Thomas Hammarberg (High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe) held a working lunch with the representatives of the EU’s main institutions. Representing the European Parliament’s largest political group, the European People’s Party (EPP), MEP Lívia Járóka discussed the issue of Kosovar Roma repatriated from EU Member States with the High Commissioner.
Thomas Hammarberg came to Brussels to present his issue paper on “Criminalisation of Migration in Europe” and to meet with representatives of the European Union’s three main institutions in order to discuss the human rights implications of immigration. During the working lunch, Lívia Járóka (Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union, EPP) asked the High Commissioner about the implementation of the bilateral readmission agreement between Kosovo and Germany. During the war in 1999 and the following years, over 14 000 Roma fled from Kosovo to Germany, who due to the process, have lost their status of “toleration” providing the right to stay in the country and since staying in Kosovo at least officially “does not represent a direct threat to life and limb” they must leave Germany.
Járóka reminded that 25 % of Roma threatened by the forced deportation had been born in Germany having no ties to Kosovo at all and Kosovar authorities had proven to be unable to resettle not more than 480 internally displaced persons from the scandalous lead contaminated camps of Cesmin Lug and Leposavić. “The security situation is also unsatisfactory and ethnically motivated violence is still wide-spread – she added. Hammarberg replied that regarding the serious malfunctions of Kosovar economy and the contradictory will of the refugees, he was also concerned about repatriation and that he wrote an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he asked to consider suspending the repatriations, prolong the status of toleration and implement the readmission agreement only on voluntary basis.
Regarding NGOs, Hammarberg said that most civil organizations left a great deal to be desired both in terms of their professional capacity and their independence from politics. However, the contribution of strong, professional and independent NGOs would be essential in bringing up and discussing most issues related to human rights – added the High Commissioner. Hammarberg agreed with Járóka upon the necessity of empowering stakeholder NGOs in terms of both financial and human resources. Further participants of the negotiation included Hans Nilsson, Head of Unit of the Secretariat General of the EU, Thierry Bechet, Adviser of the European Commission’s Directorate General for External Relations, as well as members of the European Parliament Ulrika Lunacek and Cecilia Wikström.