[Stop-traffic] NEWS/SLOVAKIA: SLOVAKIA, BELGIUM PLEDGE COOPERATION AGAINST PEOPLE SMUGGLIN

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] NEWS/SLOVAKIA: SLOVAKIA, BELGIUM PLEDGE COOPERATION AGAINST PEOPLE SMUGGLIN
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Jan 26 2001 - 09:19:41 EST


17/Jan/01 SLOVAKIA: SLOVAKIA, BELGIUM PLEDGE COOPERATION AGAINST PEOPLE
SMUGGLING.
Source: CTK news agency, Prague, in English 1908 gmt 15 Jan 01
Excerpt from report in English by the Czech news agency CTK
Bratislava, 15 January: Belgian Interior Minister Antoine Duquesne and
Slovak Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner today at a meeting in the Slovak
capital Bratislava both signed a joint document in which they pledged,
among other things, to cooperate against organized smuggling of people to
Belgium.
Pittner told reporters that the signed agreement was mainly aimed at
increasing cooperation between police authorities in both Slovakia and
Belgium in order to uncover organized smuggling of people from Slovakia to
Belgium and other EU countries. The two ministers also agreed to improve
exchange of information between both countries.
Regarding when Belgium might get rid of its practice of requiring visas
from citizens of Slovakia, Duquesne did not specify when the visa
requirements could be abolished. He did say, however, that he was convinced
that as soon as informativeness got better in Slovakia about the condition
of Belgian legislation and provided that Slovakia continued efforts to help
its ethnic minorities, a visa requirement would no longer be needed.
Belgium introduced visa requirements for Slovak citizens some time ago
after large numbers of people, mostly Romanies claiming to be victims of
racism in Slovakia, began seeking asylum in Belgium.
Duquesne said that tightening of Belgium's asylum policy had led to a
decrease in numbers of requests for asylum in Belgium. He said that Belgium
had as of 3 January stopped providing financial assistance to people
requesting asylum in order to discourage anyone who might intend to abuse
the asylum process. He said people requesting asylum in Belgium were now
only being provided food and accommodation while they waited for either
approval or rejection of their requests. He went on to say that Belgium had
speeded up its handling of people's requests for asylum and that Belgian
authorities were trying to decide on them within 20 days.
Duquesne, commenting about Slovakia's decision to introduce its own visa
requirements for people from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, told reporters he
could fully understand Slovakia's reasons for doing so...
(c) The British Broadcasting Corporation 17/01/2001. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced except with the express permission of The
British Broadcasting Corporation.
BBC MONITORING SERVICE
BBC MONITORING SERVICE: CENTRAL EUROPE & BALKANS 17/01/2001
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