Economics and politics - comment and analysis
31. January 2016 I Will Denayer I General

More irrational responses to the refugee crisis

Greece’s migration minister Mouzalas said on 28 January on the BBC that the Belgian secretary for migration asked him to break the law and ‘push migrants back into the sea’ (see link below). This happened at an informal meeting in Amsterdam on 25 January when EU interior and justice ministers exchanged views on how to deal with the refugee crisis. All the other ministers strongly disagreed with Francken. The Greek minister fears that Greece will be expelled from the Schengen area. Francken proposes to set up closed camps in Greece for 400.000 people and close off all entries from the Mediterranean.

In Germany, the chairwoman of the extreme right wing AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) Petry said that, in extreme cases, the use of firearms is justified to keep unregistered refugees out. AfD politician Pretzell proposed to defend German borders ‘by force of arms as a last resort’ in the past. According to polls, the AfD became the third party in Germany, behind the CDU/CSU and the SPD. Condemnation from the other parties is universal. National police chairman Radek stressed that German law forbids the use of firearms for offenses (such as crossing a border illegally): ‘Whoever proposes such a radical approach, apparently wants to overturn the rule of law and turn the police into something that we once had in Germany and we will never go back to that.’ The SPD parliamentary leader Oppermann commented that the last German politician who shot at refugees was Honnecker. He added ‘This shows: this party is really dangerous.’

The latest news is that the so-called Samsom-plan (from the head of the Dutch social-democrats) is winning widespread support. All immigrants entering Greece through Turkey would be sent back. This proposal is contrary to international law because, as human rights organisations emphasise, Turkey cannot be considered a ‘safe country.’ However, within the EU the plan is seen as the ‘last chance’ to get the refugee crisis under control.

All of this is nonsense. The 1951 Convention is very clear. How is Turkey going to take care of these people? They will end up in refugee camps. The population of Europe as a whole is over 700 million (508 in the EU). One million refugees on a population of 29 member states amounts to an increase with 0.14%. Where are the international proposals for the pacification of Syria, so that people can return and live in peace? Where is the recognition of our involvement and our responsibility in this war?

You can watch the BBC interview with Yiannis Mouzalas here. An article by Heiner Flassbeck on the refugee crisis from last October can be found here. His fears materialised in the meantime.