Albania has rejected claims that it will process asylum seekers crossing the channel from France to the UK after deputy prime minister Dominic Raab and The Times stated that is the case.
Albania’s foreign minister Olta Xhaçka and its ambassador to the UK Qirjako Qirko, labelled the claims as “fake news”, but Raab told Sky News that Albania is just “one” of the countries the government is looking at.
But Xhaçka angrily tweeted the claims splashed on the front page of The Times, saying: “Same old fake news, this time in the front page of a respected paper as The Times!
“And btw I am not a ‘he’ but a ‘she’ who has always admired the quality of British media. Sad.”
Albania ‘will never agree to UK’s approach’ – here’s why
Qirko expressed fury towards the story, saying he told The Times “at least 10 times that Albania will never, ever agree to this kind of approach regarding immigrants coming from France”.
“It is totally fake. They don’t mention a single word regarding the reality and they write what they prefer,” he told The Guardian.
He added: “I’m a lawyer. Albania has no jurisdiction to decide if an immigrant is legal or illegal. The international convention has arranged everything in detail regarding the process of assessing asylum seekers. The British courts will decide, not the Albania courts.”
In a letter of complaint to The Times, Qirko reinforced the fact that there are no talks between Albania and the UK of processing centres for illegal immigrants crossing the English Channel because this “violates international law”.
He said: “This is a desperate measure from a government that can only think of how to show cruelty and heartlessness towards our fellow human beings in search of safety.
“Offshore processing in Albania won’t work as a deterrent, leading to longer delays and an even more dysfunctional asylum system, as well as being a big waste of money.
“Instead this government should focus on addressing Channel crossings through an ambitious expansion of existing safe routes, introducing a humanitarian visa system and recognising that many people seeking asylum will have no other option but to take dangerous journeys and they should always be given a fair hearing on UK soil.”
Meanwhile, Raab also said the UK government aims to “try and reduce the pull factor”.
It comes after last month Priti Patel claimed those crossing the Channel are not real asylum seekers and are making the journey because they want to stay in UK hotels.
The Home Secretary insisted single men coming on small boats are in fact “economic migrants” and that the hotels used by the Home Office to host them have been a “pull factor” for people to come to the UK ‘illegally’.