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Minister slammed over Danish trip

Published on 10/02/2005

10 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has come under fire for planning to visit Denmark to study its immigration policy.

Dewael’s visit is scheduled for Friday but the French-speaking socialists (PS), the greens and the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V) say he should cancel the trip.

They argue that Belgium should not even consider adopting immigration policies based on the Danish model, which has been influenced by nationalist and far right parties in the Scandinavian country.

Denmark has one of the toughest stances on immigration in Europe, cutting development aid to countries which refuse to accept the return of illegal immigrants.

The PS immediately released a statement when it heard of Dewael’s intention to visit Denmark. It said it was “astonished” to learn Dewael, a right-leaning Liberal, intended to draw inspiration from a policy that was “extreme” and barely respected international conventions and human rights.

“It’s all the more worrying because the Danish government is a coalition of the Conservative right which draws support from the extreme right (the Danish People’s Party, the sister party to Vlaams Belang).”

Denis Grimberg, CDH group leader in the Brussels parliament, also attacked the visit.

“The link between immigration and development policy is really dangerous,” he said.

“Belgium should first of all meet its commitments in terms of development aid before adding supplementary conditions.”

Ecolo federal secretary Isabelle Durant also criticised Dewael, calling on the PS to use its place in the ruling coalition to block the importation of the Danish model to Belgium.

Dewael refused to comment on the criticisms beyond saying he would try to allay fears during his Danish visit.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news