20 October 2009 – According to Belgian media, Belgium has just signed a bilateral readmission agreement with the Kosovo authorities. With this agreement, the Kosovo authorities commit themselves to readmit persons of Kosovo origin who do not meet the regularisation criteria that have been established by the Belgian government. Another agreement involving all three Benelux countries and Kosovo is still in the pipeline.

In a media statement, the Secretary of State for Migration and asylum, Melchior Wathelet said that the conclusion of this agreement should be seen as a strong signal both for persons from Kosovo, who do not have a legal residence status, and by the Belgian population. He further announced that the Belgian immigration board will launch a public information campaign targeting in particular Roma from southeast Kosovo who should be encouraged “to invest themselves into the local policy of their country”.

Several West European countries have been negotiating bilateral readmission agreements with the Kosovo authorities which set the basis for the repatriation of the Kosovo authorities. Germany has already repatriated several dozens of Kosovo Roma on the basis of an agreement which has not yet been officially finalised. Switzerland is about to conclude an agreement, and Austria has just embarked on negotiations.

According to the UNHCR, Kosovo Roma and Serbs are still at risk to become victims of ethnically motivated violence in Kosovo and should be granted international protection.

Chachipe a.s.b.l.

Sources:

RTBF : Accord avec le Kosovo sur le retour des Kosovars illégaux, 20 October 2009

De Morgen: Eerste Kosovaars bilateraal akkoord over verwijdering illegalen in België, 20 October 2009

De Tijd: Leterme ontmoet Kosovaarse ambtgenoot, 9 October 2009

22.10.09: According to an article which was published by the Kosovo newspaper Infopress and quoted according to the afternoon edition of UNMIK’s Media Monitoring of 22 October 2009, the Kosovo Ministry of Internal Affairs has already prepared similar agreements with other countries including Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary, and Austria. According to the same source, the Kosovo Ministry does not expect a large number of persons to be repatriated from Belgium, since most persons from Kosovo in Belgium have been able to regulate their status.