Dutch Liberals Follow Christian Democrats, Ask About Reintroduction Visa for Albanians

After an item from Dutch public television program Nieuwsuur, in which the chief of the Rotterdam Police Frank Paauw warned that within three years the Albanian mafia in the Netherlands has significantly increased its activities, Liberal-Conservative VVD deputies Foort van Oosten and Malik Azmani have sent parliamentary questions to the Minister of Justice and Security Ferdinand Grapperhaus.

According to Nieuwsuur, Albanian criminal activity in the Netherlands has tripled from 2015 with 300 incidents to 1,000 in 2016. Rotterdam Police chief Paauw declared:

Cocaine and human trafficking are their core business. They occupy an ever more prominent role and collaborate with groups of other ethnicities. Criminal Albanians are the rising group in drug trafficking in the Netherlands, both within and outside Europe.

Dutch deputies Van Oosten and Azmani have asked clarification from the minister regarding the claims made by Paauw, and whether it is prudent to wait with the withdrawal of the visa exemption for Albania on the European Commission’s Western Balkans monitor, which is expected to be published in December.

With their question, the two liberal-conservative deputies follow up on questions by three Christian-democrats, who directed similar parliamentary questions to the Ministry of Justice and Security in late August, after Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf raised the alarm about the increased presence of Albanian mafia in the Netherlands, whose growth coincides with the period in which Albania had fallen prey to widespread cannabis cultivation under the apparent protection of then Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri, who has recently been linked to an Albanian drug trafficking organization operating in Italy.

Back then, the dismissive response of Albanian ambassador in the Netherlands Adia Sakiqi raised several eyebrows, and it now seems the facts can no longer be dismissed.

Now that both the liberal-conservative VVD, part of the majority and the party Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the Christian-democratic CDA of the opposition have openly argued for a reevaluation of the visa-exempt status, there appears to be a broad platform, and possibly a majority, in Dutch Parliament for revoking it.

As Exit explained, according to recent legislative changes in the EU, a simple majority of EU countries can request the temporary revocation of visa exemption for the Schengen Zone, and force the European Commission to renegotiate with the country in question. Considering the fact that the UK, France, Italy, and the Netherlands all report a serious rise in Albanian crime, such a measure may not be unlikely, although much will depend on the European Commission’s Western Balkans monitor.