With Sweden struggling to provide enough beds for the record number of refugees crossing into the country, the country’s migration minister on Thursday said that asylum seekers might want to consider “go[ing] back to Germany or Denmark”.
Morgan Johansson’s comment hardly went unnoticed in Denmark, where politicians have actively tried to keep the number of refugees down in contrast to Sweden’s open-arm policy.
Danish Integration Minister Inger Støjberg reacted on Thursday evening by calling Johansson’s comment “neither good nor appropriate”.
“Sweden put itself in the situation it is in by carrying out extremely gentle immigration policies in every way. It’s not a solution to start guiding refugees to other countries. One can hope that the Swedes are beginning to take a more realistic approach to the situation,” Støjberg told Jyllands-Posten.
Støjberg rejected the notion that Denmark had essentially done the same thing Sweden is now recommending by letting refugees travel unhindered on the way to Sweden.
“I know that Finland is receiving many asylum seekers who have travelled through Sweden. So the Swedish and the Danish way of registering asylum seekers are completely the same to my knowledge,” she said.
Støjberg went on to echo Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen in saying that Denmark will not take any refugees off of Sweden’s hands.
“I don't see us taking any of the Swedish asylum seekers,” she said.
Jensen said on Thursday that the only help Denmark will offer its Swedish neighbours is inspiration from the more hard-line Danish approach.
See also: Denmark rejects Sweden's refugee appeal
“Every country has chosen its own course within the refugee area. They have chosen theirs and now they must deal with it as they’d wish,” Jensen told TV2 News.
“We know that there are some countries that are looking to Denmark and we know that Sweden has also looked to Denmark to find inspiration. That is probably the best help we can give them,” Jensen said.
Jensen’s Swedish counterpart Margot Wallström responded by saying Sweden “had done the most per capita in the EU and we have nothing to be ashamed of” and that decisions wouldn't be “based on Danish politics.”
Sweden, with a population of 9.8 million, is expecting to receive up to 190,000 asylum seekers this year. By contrast, Denmark, a country of 5.6 million, believes it will receive 20,000.
While Stockholm has offered permanent residency to everyone fleeing Syria's civil war, Copenhagen has sought to limit the number of refugees by issuing temporary residence permits, delaying family reunifications and slashing benefits for asylum seekers.
It has also placed adverts in Lebanese newspapers to discourage migrants from choosing Denmark. Sweden’s anti-immigration Sweden Democrats has been inspired by Denmark's campaign to do the same, as has the Norwegian government.