Op-Ed/It’s not a refugee crisis, it’s the result of certain policies

Op-Ed/It’s not a refugee crisis, it’s the result of certain policies

Nicosia, August 27, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Neoklis Sylikiotis – AKEL MEP, Vice President of the Group of the European United Left

Since early 2015, 235.000 refugees arrived on the coasts of Italy and Greece (over 100,000 in Italy and around 135,000 in Greece). At the same time the International Organisation for Migration estimates that in 2015 (by the end of July) 2,000 people had been drowned in their effort to cross the Mediterranean. In Germany, in the city Chaintenaou, the neo-Nazis and others racist elements attacked an asylum of the German State injuring 31 policemen.

“This is not the Europe I dreamed”, Mr Juncker said on the crisis created by the arrival of refugees from Syria, the continued refusal of states to accept migrants and the racist treatment of the citizens and States to Syrian refugees. It might not be the Europe that Mr Juncker dreamed, but unfortunately it is the Europe he tolerates and continues to promote.

The EU has a large share of responsibility for the war in Syria, as well as the tensions in the region. With EU tolerance, both France and Germany were arming or are even still arming, both indirectly and directly the jihadists, while together with the US and with other EU countries they have contributed to the destabilisation of the Middle East and North Africa by promoting wars and financing the “Arab spring”. The Union supports the imperialist wars and destabilisation in the Middle East and North Africa, continuing neo-colonial dependency relations practices of those countries to the advantage of multinationals and of big funds. The EU has faced and is facing the crisis of refugees by militarising its borders, while at the same time slashing funds from social development policy. In this year’s budget of the Union is provided once again a reduction of social funds, while the corresponding military expenditure for the service of policing the Union’s borders (FRONTEX) increases.

Now there is an attempt in Germany to remove certain restrictions of the Dublin II agreement, thus allowing more asylum seekers to remain there. But this is not enough. There is still much to be done. The EU must assume its obligations towards refugees and migrants and to reject the Dublin II completely, while at the same time promote a plan for the fair redistribution of weights, according to the ability of each Member State and a common asylum system that is based on actual solidarity between EU nations. From 2009 to 2011 important steps were taken in this direction. With our initiative, as Minister of Interior of the Cyprus Republic, together with colleagues from other countries, we formed the front of the Mediterranean countries, we organised in Cyprus a meeting of southern countries on the immigration issue, and we tabled together documents in the EU in favour of the two axes of migration policy, namely in favour of fair burden sharing and the common asylum system. At the time our proposals had fallen on deaf ears, as the North had not yet felt the pressure of refugees. Unfortunately, subsequently life vindicated us.

As a Left we have a clear position. Instead the EU acting as the geostrategic tail of the imperialist wars and US interests it should and must support the countries of the Middle East to achieve peace and prosperity in the region. As such, we expect the EU to stop strengthening the forces of repression and the wall at the borders, which is turning Europe into a fortress, and to start directly promoting policies for the tangible support of Asian countries and sub-Saharan Africa. The EU has a duty to enhance its humanitarian assistance, the forces for human rescue, but also help to promote development policies in the countries were migrants come from and to support Member States bordering countries in crisis.

But to make this, first there is the need to change the philosophy of the directorate in Brussels and the countries of the North, finally making those concessions that will allow fair burden-sharing according to the GDP of each state and the development of a common asylum system. To this end, we battle as the Left in the European Parliament and in any bastion of work and struggle. Because solidarity is not only an ideological issue, it is first and foremost a deeply humanitarian one.