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The Times: Talks Between London and Yerevan Over Illegal Immigration; Armenian Authorities Deny Such Talks


The Times: Talks Between London and Yerevan Over Illegal Immigration; Armenian Authorities Deny Such Talks

The United Kingdom (UK) has initiated discussions with several countries to address the issue of illegal immigration. The Times newspaper has reported that talks are underway with Armenia, Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, and Costa Rica. These discussions stem from documents obtained by The Times from the UK Foreign Office.


London aims to establish agreements similar to the one previously made with Rwanda, with these four countries. The UK has been actively seeking partners for around a year and a half to accommodate illegal immigrants expelled from its borders. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had hoped to finalize such agreements last autumn. However, negotiations hit a snag as no illegal immigrants have been successfully relocated to Rwanda yet.


According to The Times, technical negotiations with Yerevan began in September last year when UK Deputy Foreign Minister Leo Docherty visited Armenia. Armenian authorities have been closely monitoring the situation with Rwanda since the UK Parliament voted in favor of a new law. The agreement with Rwanda entails that expelled illegal immigrants from the UK could seek asylum there rather than being sent back to potentially risky situations in their home countries.


However, the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has refuted claims of substantive negotiations with the UK regarding the relocation of illegal immigrants. Ani Badalyan, MFA Spokesperson, clarified that while Armenia and the UK maintain a comprehensive political dialogue, no substantial or technical negotiations have occurred on the specific issue raised in The Times' publication. Nelly Davtyan, deputy head of the Migration and Citizenship Service of the Armenian Ministry of Internal Affairs, echoed this statement, denying any involvement in such negotiations.


The issue of illegal immigration has long plagued the UK, with the government seeking solutions to combat smuggling by organized criminal groups. The Conservative government hopes that the prospect of deportation to Rwanda or other potential countries will deter illegal immigrants from countries like Albania, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, who predominantly arrive in the UK illegally via sea routes from France.


According to Sky News TV, over 100,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in the UK since 2018 via rubber dinghies across the English Channel, with asylum applications exceeding 175,000. While awaiting processing, refugees are housed in specialized migration centers, but there is a persistent shortage of accommodation. The cost of supporting illegal immigrants is estimated to be around £4 billion ($5 billion) annually, borne by British taxpayers.

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