Meeting for Senior Officials from Migration and Border Management Structures
On 6-8 May 2001, the SMB and UNHCR jointly convened a meeting of senior migration and border guard officials in Söderköping, Sweden. This initiative represented a joint proactive step to promote improved co-operation on asylum and migration related issues between the countries that are situated on what soon will be the EU new eastern border.
Senior migration and border guard officials from Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, and representatives of the SMB, the Swedish Government and UNHCR, as well as observers from the EC and IOM attended the meeting.
Country representatives gave overviews of the situation in the field of asylum, migration and border management and in the field of cross-border co-operation. They were followed by contributions from the Swedish Government, the SMB, UNHCR, IOM and the EC.
To focus more on specific issues emerged from the initial presentations, the participants continued discussions in working groups on (1) harmonisation in migration management, (2) improving border management, (3) the safe third country concept and readmission agreements, and (4) practices related to the reception of aliens, asylum seekers and irregular migrants and the return of rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants. The groups identified the major issues and problems in each area and discussed achievements reached and gaps remained, which was translated into recommendations.
These recommendations, inter alia, included to:
re-affirm the need for concerted and coherent efforts to address the cross-border challenges in the asylum and migration areas, including combating irregular migration;
call for a differentiated approach due to different levels of development and different actual or potential co-operation of the four participating states with the EU;
address the lack of agreement on the safe third country concept and its application along with the lack of readmission agreements in the region at all-European level;
stress the need for human approach to migration and border management issues as well as the need for observance of minimal standards in safeguarding the rights of forced and irregular migrants;
emphasise the need for true burden-sharing in building human asylum, migration and border management systems in Belarus and Ukraine;
organise a second meeting at a more expert level to endure launching of a process.