|Migrants camp in Sarajevo Photo: BIRN|
As EU leaders met in Brussels for a crunch summit on Thursday and Friday to discuss migration among other issues – and following rows in Albania over whether its government had agreed to host processing camps – Bosnia and Montenegro have stepped in to say they will also not host such centres.
Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic on Wednesday said Bosnia and Herzegovina would not permit the formation of any such centre or camp on its territory.
“Camps and reception centres are out of the question! I don’t care about anybody’s money, not even the EU’s money – refugee camps will not be built in Bosnia. I was clear on that,” Mektic said in Sarajevo.
At the same time, answering questions on the issue, Montenegro’s Prime Minister, Dusko Marovic, also said Montenegro would not host processing centres at the request of the EU.
“Montenegro will deal with migrants in accordance with its constitutional and democratic principles, based on the law; on the principle of solidarity. Only such a Montenegro has a perspective and a future,” Marovic said.
The EU is increasingly divided on the issue of migration, with Mediterranean countries pushing for an end to the so-called Dublin Regulation, under which asylum seekers must request asylum and be screened in the first EU country they reach.
Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain say this puts an unfair burden on them, as most migrants and refugees heading for Europe cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.
A number of EU countries, including France, are believed to be pushing for the establishment of closed processing centres on the periphery of the EU – which is why Albania, Tunisia and some countries have been mentioned as possible hosts.
Meanwhile, numbers of migrants and refugees are also on the rise on land routes in southeast Europe.
From January to the end of May, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania registered more than 6,700 new migrants and asylum-seekers, more than twice the 2,600 registered in the three countries over the whole of 2017.
Media reports say migrants and refugees crossing the Balkans come mainly from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Iraq.