Norway PM pushed to follow Merkel on asylum

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg is under pressure to follow her German counterpart and stop sending refugees back to the country in which they first arrived in Europe.

Norway PM pushed to follow Merkel on asylum
Christian Democrat leader Knut Arild Hareide on Sunday called on Solberg to suspend the Dublin Regulation.
Germany on Wednesday suspended the Dublin regulation, which since 1997 has meant that refugees should seek asylum in the first country they arrive at within the European Union. 

“Angela Merkel took a leadership position in Europe by stopping sending back Syrians under the Dublin Agreement. Now I want to ask the Norwegian Government to do the same,” Knut Arild Hareide, leader of Christian Democrat party, told Aftenposten on Sunday. 

“In reality, the system based around the Dublin Agreement has already collapsed because of the situation we are in now.” 

On Monday, the Socialist Left Party backed Hareide’s call, while  Ann-Magritt Austenå, Secretary General of the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS), attacked Solberg’s refusal to respond to the demand.  

“It’s totally shabby,” she told NTB. “Why should Erna Solberg be so much less of a stateswoman in this than Angela Merkel?” 

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council said that the Dublin agreement should be scrapped. 

“I think the whole Dublin scheme belongs on the scrap heap of history,” he said. “It was created in a very different time.” 

According to the Police Immigration Service, Norway has already expelled 634 asylum seekers under the Dublin regulation this year, many of them being returned to Italy. 

On Sunday, Solberg said that, while Norway would no longer send refugees back to Greece, it would continue to apply the Dublin agreement for all other cases. 

“Most Syrians arrive via Greece, where we already have a scheme under which Norway does not send people back under the Dublin regulation,” she said. 

“To say that as a general rule, we should not return refugees to the country where they arrived, even if that country receives significantly fewer refugees that us and has less stress in its systems, I don't agree with. If Syrians arrive in countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, there is no reason why these countries should not take responsibility.” 

A survey for Norway's Aftenposten newspaper, published on Friday, showed that 63 percent of Norwegians now thought it was right for Norway to take in 8,000 Syrian refugees, the quota agreed by the parliament, compared to 25 percent against.