Thursday

14th Dec 2017

Sweden grants asylum to citizen from EU candidate Romania

Sweden has granted political asylum to a controversial yoga teacher from EU candidate state Romania, with the Romanian leader referring to the case as an example of shortcomings in the country's legal system less than a year before accession is scheduled.

The Swedish Migration Board at the beginning of this week granted refugee status to Mr Gregorian Bivolaru, a 53 year-old yoga-instructor on the grounds that he may face persecution due to his religious views in Romania, and that a trial against him in his home country would not be fair.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Romanian accession to the EU might face delay, says prime minister Tariceanu (Photo: European Commission)

Last October, the Swedish government rejected a Romanian justice ministry's request for Mr Bivolaru's extradition on the same grounds.

Mr Bivolaru, founder of the Movement for the Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA) is standing trial in Romania for, amongst other things, rape, tax fraud and anti-Semite statements.

The Swedish Supreme Court, on whose statement the Swedish government bases its dismissal of the extradition request, noted that the evidence put forward against Mr Bivolaru from Bucharest was insufficient.

Bucharest in its extradition request included statements by Romanian MPs in a parliamentary debate as "facts", without substantial proof to back the claims.

The request referred to MPs describing Mr Bivolaru as "Satan", "psychopath" and "terrorist".

The Swedish court also referred to a report from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bucharest, stating that witnesses had been forced to declare false testimony against Bivolaru.

The organisation's executive director, Diana Calinescu, called the case a "slap in the face" for the Romanian legal system, and told EUobserver that the Romanian judiciary must take into account that it did not manage to convince the Swedish court that Mr Bivolaru would enjoy a fair trial in Romania.

Romanian PM concerned about accession

The Romanian prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu on Monday (9 January) pointed to the case as an example of shortcomings in the Romanian legal system, warning that these might jeopardise Romania's bid to join the EU in January 2007.

"If the yoga teacher is granted asylum in Sweden because his fundamental rights are not respected here in Romania, than that is a clear proof of the fact that justice does not function here," he said according to press reports.

Referring to further deficiencies in the country's legal system, Mr Tariceanu said "We see a lot of strange sentences, causing doubts about the honesty of judges".

Romania and Bulgaria signed their accession treaties on 25 April 2005, but these treaties for the first time contain a clause with the option to delay the 2007 entry date until 2008 if entry preparations are insufficient.

EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said Brussels would "not hesitate" to make use of the option in its recommendation on the entry date to EU member states, due in April or May 2006.

Mr Tariceanu also referred to this option, saying that "if accession fails to happen in 2007, we cannot be certain that it can happen in 2008," referring to the sceptical climate on enlargement currently characterising the EU.

MEPs concerned

A number of MEPs earlier expressed concern over the Bivolaru case, with the chairman of the European Parliament External Affairs Committee, Elmar Brok, sending a letter to Bucharest officials after the Swedish authorities first rejected the extradition request in November.

Socialist MEP Veronique de Keyser and her Danish eurosceptic colleague Jens-Peter Bonde have also pledged to keep a critical eye on the case.

Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership

Bucharest expects other member states to decide on its accession to the passport-free area before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019 - amid criticism of a controversial new justice reform.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact

European data protection authorities tell US to improve oversight on 'Privacy Shield' scheme, otherwise they would go to the EU's highest court.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Pro-Kremlin trolls targeted Scottish referendum
  2. MEPs vote to allow phosphate additives in kebabs
  3. Babis government sworn in in Czech Republic
  4. Russia looks to crypto-currencies to evade EU sanctions
  5. Juncker embroiled in Luxembourg wire-tapping trial
  6. Kurz close to forming new Austrian right-wing government
  7. Ministers reach deal on fish quotas but overfishing continues
  8. UK parliament to vote on right to veto final Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  2. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  3. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  4. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  7. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  8. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  9. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  10. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  11. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  12. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe

Latest News

  1. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  2. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short
  3. Brits in EU-27 are uncertain, alone and far from protected
  4. 2018 fishing quotas agreed - but Brexit muddies waters
  5. Medical HQ to spearhead EU military push
  6. Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland
  7. EU renews glyphosate approval, pledges transparency
  8. Romania searching for EU respectability

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  2. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  4. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  5. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  6. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  7. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  8. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  10. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives
  11. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  12. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations