27 November 2009 – In the context of the adoption of a resolution on the European Commission’s 2009 enlargement strategy paper concerning the Western Balkan countries, the European Parliament rejected yesterday a motion submitted by the Greens/European Free Alliance calling on the EU members states to refrain from forcibly repatriating Roma to Kosovo as long as the security situation in Kosovo has not improved.
Instead, the Parliament merely “takes note” of the conclusion of bilateral readmission agreements between the countries of the Western Balkan and the EU Member States, and calls on the countries concerned “to step up their efforts to create appropriate social conditions, infrastructure and access to public services in order to ensure the fundamental rights of the Roma and to facilitate their reintegration after their return”. In addition, the Parliament “calls on Western Balkan countries and the Member States to follow up closely the reintegration of the repatriated Roma and to report back on the achievements reached to the Commission on an annual basis in order to facilitate the evaluation of the reintegration policies and the exchange of best practices”.
In a media statement, the spokes women for foreign policy issues of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Ulrika Lunacek and Franciska Brantner said: “Given the deplorable situation of over 12,000 Roma people, who are currently being deported from EU member states to Kosovo, it is irresponsible that Parliament rejected our amendment on this issue.” The two MEPs called on the EU member states to refrain from deporting refugees to Kosovo until the conditions for safe returns have been created.
Several EU member states including Austria and Hungary are currently negotiating bilateral readmission agreements with the Kosovo authorities. Germany has already deported several dozens of Roma to Kosovo on the basis of an agreement in principle which was concluded earlier this year. Following the signature, in October, of a bilateral readmission agreement with Kosovo, in October, the Belgian Secretary of State for Immigration and Asylum, Melchior Wathelet, announced the launch of a public information campaign aimed “to encourage” Kosovo Roma refugees in Belgium “to invest themselves in the local policy of their country.”