Macedonia urges its citizens to stop seeking asylum in EU

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Macedonian Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska on Wednesday urged his country's nationals not to seek asylum in member states of the European visa-free Schengen zone.

"The ministry calls on citizens not to travel abroad and seek asylum, exposing themselves to financial expenses, as their request will not be approved," Jankuloska said as 38 Macedonian asylum-seekers were returned from Germany.

Several EU countries have reported a worrying stream of asylum-seekers from Serbia and Macedonia, prompting European Union officials to warn that this could jeopardise the process of visa liberalisation.

In December 2009, the EU granted citizens of the former Yugoslav republics of Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro the right to travel without a visa to the 25 European countries that are part of the visa-free Schengen travel zone.

The privilege is to be extended next week to citizens of Albania and Bosnia.

Almost all EU countries are members of this area of free movement of people, except for Britain, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.

Bulgaria and neighbouring Romania hope to join the zone in March 2011.

© 2010 AFP

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