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Norway police want Schengen review

05 may 2011, 12:19
Norway's police have called for a review of the Schengen treaty, saying the opening up of Europe's borders has spawned a surge in crime in Nordic countries which emanates from the Baltic states, AFP reports.

In an interview published Wednesday, the president of the Norwegian police association said the vast majority of crimes being committed in Scandinavia could be laid at the feet of criminals from the three former Soviet republics -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- that are now part of the European Union.

"Open borders in Europe have led to a situation where 80 percent of crimes committed in Norway and other Nordic states are carried out by criminals who are either from the Baltic states or are strongly linked to the organised crime in the Baltic states," Egil Haaland told Estonia's Posteemes daily.

Quoting from a recent letter from Norway's police force to Oslo's justice ministry, Haaland said that "if the Baltic states will not take serious steps against criminals who are also committing crimes in Nordic states, the Schengen treaty should be reviewed. Open borders have became a big problem for us."

Norwegian police recently complained to the justice ministry that budget cuts in cash-strapped Baltic states had weakened their ability to fight organised crime.

"The topic was also discussed on March 1, 2011 at the meeting of the European Confederation of Police," Haaland said.

Quoting official Norwegian crime statistics, Posteemes disputed the claims that most of the crimes in Scandinavia stemmed from the Baltic states, terming the accusations "xenophobic."

First signed in 1985 as a giant step towards European integration, the Schengen treaty has opened passport-free travel to 400 million people in 22 EU nations plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

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