14 August 2009 – According to a radio feature which was broadcasted by the Austrian national broadcaster ORF, the Austrian government has been negotiating a readmission agreement with the Kosovo authorities since July when it declared Kosovo a safe country. In exchange for accepting the swift readmission of rejected asylum seekers, Kosovo will be granted support in the development of its executive power including the police.
In a quote, the Austrian Minister for Home Affairs, Maria Fekter justifies the decision of the government which was heavily criticized by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and the UNHCR, saying that each asylum application will still be assessed on the basis of its individual merits. However, she conceded that it will be much more difficult in future for people from Kosovo to gain asylum in Austria.
In another quote, the Austrian Ambassador in Pristina, Walter Maria Stojan, defended Austria against the criticism to ignore the persistent discrimination and abuse against Roma. According to him, it would be necessary to verify whether there are still cases where a persecution has taken place.
The Austrian Greens strongly reacted to the statement of the Minister for Home Affairs. In a press release the spokesperson for Integration, Migration and Human Rights, Alev Korun, accused her to embellish the human rights situation in Kosovo which could have severe consequences for the victims of persecution. “Members of ethnic minorities including Roma continue to be persecuted,” Korun said.