OP/ED: The Friday that will change our lives?

OP/ED: The Friday that will change our lives?

Athens, November 15, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

The irrational multiple terrorist attacks in Paris plunged the global community in mourning and sparked discussions from another perspective on the refugee crisis.

It is easy for one to blame the refugee crisis for the attacks in Paris. But they would not be right and the two shouldn’t be connected. A cold look at the facts shows that the attacks in Paris are not related to the refugee crisis. It was not possible for refugees to organize attacks in an unknown Paris for them. The real killers knew Paris very well. At least one of them had French citizenship, while others drove cars rented in Belgium. The human mind is not rational and minutes since the events became known, many people began to link the two issues, terrorist attacks and refugees. And they were not only Europeans. These two must be disconnected, but one needs to understand why they are being linked.

These terrorist attacks will intensify the feeling of insecurity in Europe. If the feeling that there is control returns, political repercussions will be severe. Already there is a stream of support for the extreme right growing in Europe, anti-European or anti-immigrant groups in Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden and France. The movement against the EU in Britain is also expected to benefit. So is the Prime Minister Victor Orban of Hungary.

The French President, Fracois Hollande, is expected to announce the intensification of French military engagement in the Middle East. The National Front of Marine Le Pen might be strengthened in regional elections in France next month.

Pressure on Merkel to shut the borders of Germany will increase. But Merkel knows the consequences such a move would have for the Balkan countries. The Balkans and especially Greece will become countries that will accept the entire burden of the refugee crisis with uncontrollable consequences.

Western policy in the Middle East might focus more on fighting ISIS – and less on removing Assad – although a radical shift against Assad is not expected in coming weeks. But there is no time.

Europe needs to restore security, stability and trust. France and its allies must show that it is possible to maintain a tolerant society and to fight against the terrorism of ISIS.

In the long term, Europe needs a coherent military strategy.

In the short term, it needs to maintain free movement within the Union and to prevent the wave of the far right; Europe must regain control of its external borders, creating refugee identification centers at entry points and patrolling its shores. Greece alone cannot cope without EU assistance. The EU cannot solve the issue without Turkey.

Europe must return to its  main principles for a “Europe of the citizens”. Everything is interconnected and terrorists are taking advantage of the division of Europe and use it as a theater of their own business and objectives.

Fear must not prevail. If this happens terrorists will have won the battle. Europe must not lose the few elements that are deeply rooted in its DNA; freedom, democracy, solidarity and humanism. Only in this way it can find its way again and overcome the crisis.