Norway PM: ‘Great uncertainty’ on asylum figures

Norway PM: ‘Great uncertainty’ on asylum figures
This year's budget predicts 33,000 asylum seekers. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix
Prime Minister Erna Solberg thinks that a good return agreement may curb the flow of refugees toward Europe but said that Norway must still be prepared for many new arrivals.
The national budget has estimated that 33,000 asylum seekers will come to Norway this year and Solberg told VG that she foresees no major changes to that figure. 
“There is first and foremost great uncertainty about how many people will come to Norway. We must be prepared for major arrivals  and have plans that can be rapidly implemented. There may still be secondary waves in which Norway will be the first country of asylum,” the PM said. 
Solberg will not be included when EU political leaders meet with Turkish officials to put in place the conditions for an agreement on the return of migrants who cross the Aegean Sea to Greece illegally. She will nevertheless travel to Brussels for a meeting of the European People’s Party, the Conservatives’ Europeans sister party.
Both the UN and the Council of Europe have said that a collective return of asylum seekers would constitute a violation of international law, but European Council President Donald Tusk has vowed that everyone would get an individual assessment. Solberg said she assumes that an agreement will be reached that safeguards basic human rights. 
“We must take the starting point that EU respects the European Convention of Human Rights. But much is still unclear, although we can now see the main lines of the agreement,” she said.