- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

Asylum shopping

Sweden wants European nations to tighten immigration policies to prevent unqualified foreigners from gaining political asylum.

Barbro Holmberg, minister for migration and asylum policy, is worried that asylum seekers rejected in one country will keep applying to other countries until they find one that will accept them.

“Migration affects all the countries of the world. For this reason, we also need to get better at cooperating globally. Our ability to deal with increasing migration is one of the most important global issues of the future,” she told our correspondent, Nicholas Kralev,on a visit to Washington.

Mrs. Holmberg said that Europe’s visa policies need to be reviewed to ensure similar requirements and criteria in each of the 15 countries that belong to the so-called “Schengen regime.”

The regime allows foreign visitors to travel to all member states with a single visa issued by any of the Schengen countries.

Named for the town in Luxembourg where seven countries signed a visa treaty in 1985, the regime now includes most of the 15 member nations of the European Union.

The treaty now includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Only Iceland and Norway are not EU members.

Mrs. Holmberg met last week with Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, to learn more about U.S. resettlement policy, hoping to help create common European practices to ease the immigration burden on the continent.

She later traveled to New York to attend the presentation of a report by the Global Commission on International Migration at the United Nations.

Timken to Germany

President Bush is expected to appoint a political supporter as the new ambassador to Germany.

German press reports yesterday said Mr. Bush has selected industrialist William Robert Timken Jr. to succeed Ambassador Daniel Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, who resigned in February. Berlin’s Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper and the German newsweekly, Der Spiegel, both carried reports on the expected announcement of his nomination.

Mr. Bush appointed Mr. Timken to chair the board of directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corp. in 2002.

Plan Colombia

William Wood, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, is defending American aid to the South American nation to help defeat a Marxist guerrilla movement fund by narco-terrorists.

Mr. Wood told the Associated Press that wiping out the illegal trade in cocaine and heroin will undercut the insurgency.

“In Colombia, terrorism without narcotics is a much more vulnerable target. If you take away drugs, you reduce incentive, the power to corrupt [and] the ability to buy weapons,” Mr. Wood said.

He predicted that Congress will approve an additional $700 million for the plan in the current fiscal year.

“There is no sign that … we’re going to take a cut,” he said.

Mr. Wood noted the damage done by a recent spate of attacks by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who killed dozens of Colombian soldiers last month.

“The intensity of the attacks are clearly a concern,” he said.

The AP referred to the setbacks in the five-year effort to eradicate the illegal drug trade, which has also corrupted U.S. soldiers stationed there. Last week, Colombian police arrested two American soldiers on charges of attempting to sell stolen U.S. ammunition to right-wing death squads.

In March, the United States arrested five American soldiers on charges of trying to smuggle cocaine aboard a U.S. military plane.

The White House has acknowledged that cocaine production increased last year, despite a concerted effort to eradicate coca fields through aerial spraying.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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