Switzerland and Serbia have agreed to boost cooperation to counter the growing number of asylum seekers and to combat crime.
The two issues were the focus of a meeting in Bern on Monday between Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga and Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic.
Over the past two years, the fourth highest number of people seeking asylum in Switzerland have come from Serbia, despite the fact that refugee status is only conferred on a very small percentage since the country is considered safe. Around 80 per cent of applications came from the Roma ethnic group.
Switzerland attributes the rise in part to the removal of visa obligations for Serbs in 2009. But Sommaruga however praised Serbia’s efforts to counter abuses in the asylum process.
The two ministers also agreed to improve police cooperation in order to crack down on Serbian criminal groups involved in the drugs trade and in human trafficking in Switzerland. An accord on police collaboration has been in place for the past year.
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