Switzerland and North Macedonia conclude migration partnership
Bern, 07.11.2022 - Switzerland and North Macedonia are now linked by a migration partnership. Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter and the Minister of the Interior of North Macedonia, Oliver Spasovski, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to this effect on 7 November in Bern. Switzerland has thus now concluded migration partnerships with four Western Balkan countries.
The Memorandum of Understanding creates a framework for all aspects of migration cooperation between Switzerland and North Macedonia. It provides for the establishment of a process of joint dialogue and reflection to expand cooperation in several areas between the two countries, including the prevention of irregular migration, readmission, promotion of regular migration, and synergies between migration and development.
Partnerships with four Balkan countries
Switzerland has now concluded a total of eight migration partnerships, four of which are with countries in the Western Balkans. The first partnerships were concluded with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in 2009, followed by Kosovo the following year. The region plays a crucial role for Switzerland and the whole of Europe with regard to migration. As the first country after Greece for migrants seeking to reach Western Europe via the Balkan route, North Macedonia faced major challenges during the 2015-16 migration crisis. It is again facing major challenges owing to the resurgence in migration following the easing of COVID-19-related measures.
In recent years, Switzerland and North Macedonia have strengthened their cooperation to ensure effective migration management. Switzerland currently supports a project implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) which aims to strengthen cross-border cooperation and border management capacities in North Macedonia.
Furthermore, since 2012 the two countries have had a joint readmission agreement, as a result of which the number of asylum applications made in Switzerland by citizens of North Macedonia has fallen considerably. In 2012, 1,137 people applied for asylum in Switzerland, while in 2021 applications were down to just 69. Similarly, the 2009 decision to abolish the visa requirement for entry into the Schengen area, which also applied to citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, led to increased bilateral cooperation.
Switzerland has also been active in North Macedonia for many years through the work of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Switzerland's new 2021-24 cooperation programme has set three priorities: democratic governance, sustainable economic development, the environment and sustainable public utility services.
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Last modification 06.09.2022