Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has hit back at criticism from the British government towards economic migrants from his country attempting to exploit Britain’s asylum system to gain access to the U.K. He suggested that if Britain doesn’t want Albanians arriving illegally on boats via the English Channel, it should do more to secure its borders.
Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight on Wednesday, Rama described U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent comments as “crazy” after she called the arrival of economic migrants and asylum seekers on Britain’s southern shores an “invasion.” He said he had found it “impossible to not react” to her statement.
“I admire everything that Britain represents,” Rama told the program, “but I really am disgusted about this kind of politics that at the end is doomed to fail.”
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He accused Braverman of “fueling xenophobia and targeting, singling out a community.”
In a series of tweets posted on Wednesday, Rama went further, saying Braverman’s decision to target Albanians “as the cause of Britain’s crime and border problems makes for easy rhetoric but ignores hard fact.”
He said Albania is a NATO country and is negotiating its EU membership, claiming that “it is also a safe country of origin” and thus not one that requires nationals to seek asylum elsewhere.
Rama tweeted that when Germany had a similar problem with Albanian economic migrants attempting to use its asylum system to reside in the country, “it tightened its own systems,” and suggested that “the UK can and should do the same.”
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More than 12,000 Albanian economic migrants comprise the 40,000 people who have crossed the English Channel so far this year with a view to claiming asylum in the U.K.
Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney revealed to parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee last week that 10,000 of those arriving from Albania are single, adult males — an exponential rise in Albanian nationals arriving through irregular channels into Britain, O’Mahoney said.
“Two years ago, 50 Albanians arrived in the U.K. in small boats. Last year, it was 800,” he explained.
It is understood Home Office officials are due to travel to Albania in the near future to discuss a fast-track return route for those deemed ineligible for asylum in the U.K., and Rama insists his team is “ready to work closer with the U.K.” but says “facts are crucial. So is mutual respect.”