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Refugees and migrants in the Western Balkans: the need for collective action and equitable sharing of responsibilities

“Europe has so far failed to find a proper, sustainable response to the refugee and migration crisis in the Western Balkans. Mutual trust and confidence have been undermined by unilateral actions”. Furthermore, in Europe “the focus has shifted to border controls”; “the only apparent response to all other problems is money”, said the PACE Committee on Migration, meeting in Tbilisi today.

Adopting a draft resolution based on the report by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), the Committee underlined “the need for collective action and equitable sharing of responsibility”, with full respect for the human rights of refugees and migrants and the basic principles of international and European law.

The adopted text calls on the “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece and Austria to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement at their borders of asylum-seekers claiming international protection, to refrain from implementing policies that deny access to protection on discriminatory grounds of nationality and to ensure that police and security forces implement border control without recourse to excessive force.

For its part, the EU should ensure that human rights are given priority and that relevant EU law is implemented in full by all member states, in particular the reception conditions, asylum procedures and refugee status qualification directives. The Dublin system should be reformed with a view to a more equitable sharing of responsibility.

In presenting her report to the Committee, the rapporteur said that she intended to monitor the situation, particularly in the light of the recent agreement between the EU and Turkey, in order to ensure that the Assembly was kept up-to-date with the latest developments in the debate during the April part-session.