‘I decide’ who goes to UN meeting: Danish PM

At least one Danish minister will be present at next week’s UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration at meetings in Morocco.

'I decide' who goes to UN meeting: Danish PM
PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen speaks to press on Wednesday. Photo: Jens Astrup/Ritzau Scanpix

That means that either Minister for Immigration and Integration Inger Støjberg or Minister for International Development Ulla Tørnæs could attend, despite both having recently stated they would not be going.

Rasmussen said after a meeting at the Christiansborg parliament Wednesday that the final decision on the matter rested with him.

“I’m currently looking at how other countries are represented and we will then send a minister in line with that. I decide who will be sent to the meeting,” Rasmussen said.

“It’s possible that it could be the minister for development or the minister for integration. It might be the foreign minister [Anders Samuelsen, ed.]. It could be myself,” he added.

“This comes down to me making a decision when I have evaluated what others are doing and when we have looked at people’s schedules,” he said.

The identity of Denmark’s representative at the meeting will be resolved in the coming days, the PM said.

Both Støjberg and Tørnæs were reported earlier this week to have pulled out of the meeting after both were initially scheduled to go.

The UN compact marks the first time the world organization has agreed on a list of global objectives to tackle the challenges involved in migration for individual migrants, and at the same time to maximize benefits for the countries taking in immigrants.

A legally non-binding agreement, it includes a stated intention to give vulnerable migrants equal status to refugees and to work against economic support for media that spread intolerant views on migrants.

The text also provides for easier repatriation of migrants and is intended to help organize migration more effectively.

Not every country supports it. Among others, the United States, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Slovakia have spoken out against the pact.

In Denmark, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl has opposed Denmark’s participation, saying the compact will oblige Denmark to make concessions to migrants.

But Rasmussen said that Denmark would not lose any sovereignty through signing the compact.

“I want to be clear: the UN migration compact is not legally binding,” he said.

“It will not create new laws in Denmark. Nor does the declaration take away our sovereignty over immigration.

“It does not change on comma of Danish immigration policy,” he said.

Rasmussen said it was important Denmark said the declaration in order to demonstrate international responsibility.

“The declaration is an important symbol of the importance of multilateralism in a world in which that is under threat. It is a symbol of whether or not you want to be part of international partnerships,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark's immigration minister to skip international meeting on UN's migration pact


‘We’ll take quota refugees’: Denmark to UN

Denmark is set to resume accepting refugees under the UN’s quota system after a three-year hiatus.

'We’ll take quota refugees': Denmark to UN
Syrian refugees at the al-Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan in 2012. File photo: Majed Jaber / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix

Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye has informed the UN’s arm for refugees, UNHCR, that Denmark will take in refugees protected under the UNHCR quota system from this year.

“I informed (the UN on July 11th) that Denmark wishes to accept a small group of quota refugees who require special [medical, ed.] assistance from 2019,” Tesfaye told newspaper Politiken in a written message.

A number of steps are involved in the process of deciding which refugees will be taken in by Denmark, the minister said.

“It’s too early to say when the first quota refugees can be accepted, just as the exact number for 2019 is yet to be confirmed,” he said.

Previous annual numbers of UN quota refugees have been around 500.

The government decision on the issue was set out in the agreement reached between Tesfaye’s party, the Social Democrats, and three left-wing allied parties in the political agreement which followed the general election in June.

That deal enabled the Social Democrats to form a minority government as Denmark’s left won an overall majority in the election.

In addition to the group cited by Tesfaye, the immigration ministry has also informed UNHCR that it will accept general quota refugees from 2020.

Denmark first refused to take refugees from the UN’s quota system for resettlement from its UNHCR camps under the previous government in 2016, citing a need for “breathing space” to manage those already in the country. The policy was renewed annually up to and including last year.

The UNHCR’s North Europe spokesperson Caroline Bach praised the decision by the Danish government.

“With an increasing number of refugees who have a pressing need to be resettled, these gestures of solidarity are more important than ever,” Bach said according to Politken’s report.

The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF) called the decision a “break of campaign promises” by the Social Democrats.

“We consider this a break of campaign promises made by the Social Democrats during the election to retain a strict immigration policy,” DF parliamentary group leader Peter Skaarup said.

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