Secretary of State Theo Francken travelled to Albania on Wednesday on a mission to dissuade Albanians from fleeing their country to seek a better life in Belgium. Many of the Albanians try to apply for asylum which, in their case, has little chance of succeeding.
Francken, who is responsible for Asylum and Migration in Belgium’s Federal Government, is scheduled to remain in Albania until Friday. While there, he will meet the country’s political and police authorities.
In recent years, the European Union, particularly Member States such as Belgium, has received a significant number of asylum applications from Albanians, more than any other European nationals. In France, Albanians were the largest contingent of asylum seekers in 2017, more even than Afghans, Sudanese, Syrians or nationals of any other crisis country.
Europe, including Belgium, qualifies Albania as a “safe country”. This does not, however, prevent the authorities from examining individual demands for asylum from that country, in keeping with the Geneva Convention, which protects potential victims of persecution, for reasons of race, religion, social group or political opinion, from any country.
Applications from citizens of safe countries are handled according to a fast-track procedure, but for Albanians, the rate of approval is particularly low. In Belgium it is 5%.