16.10.2015 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

What will be with refugees in the EU

3242354352222The situation with refugees in the EU from the region of the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks kept on worsening and became the dominating factor in development of policy of the “United Europe”. That is why migrants crisis and situation in Syria became the central topics of a meeting of Foreign Ministers of 28 EU countries, which took place recently in Luxembourg, until the end of the year taking the presidency in the Council of the European Union.

The Ministers discussed migration in light of the International Conference on the route of the Western Balkans, which took place on October 8, and also in the framework of preparation for the EuroAfrican Summit on migration to be held in Valletta on November 11-12; and they agreed that the migrants crisis will be included into the agenda of all nearest meetings absolutely at different levels. “It only the beginning of the process. The dialogue will proceed for the next months and years”, Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg emphasized.

According to the European Commission, only since the beginning of the year more than 600 thousand migrants have submitted official applications on granting a shelter in 28 EU countries. Moreover, as the President of the European Council Donald Tusk declared, the European Union expects that millions of migrants from various states including those, who are not affected by wars or the last crises will try to get to Europe soon. “In Syria nowadays there are 8 million internally displaced persons, and 4 million more are in the neighbouring countries. We have to expect millions of refugees only from Syria”, he told, having emphasized that there are still migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions, who also wish to get to Europe.

In this circumstances within the last months the EU actively tries to find the answer to a question: what to do with an ongoing flow of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

According to the speeches of a number of heads of foreign policy ministries of EU states at the meeting in Luxembourg, the European Union intends to turn back the flow of the migrants. For this intent the EU will deport a certain number of refugees back home and for that purpose Brussels promised to allocate additional means, and the European Commission prepares the necessary amendments to the legislation. As the Minister of Internal Affairs of Great Britain Theresa Mai declared: “Great Britain always insisted that we have to send economic migrants back to the countries of their origin. We have to finish with those who abuses the right for a shelter”.

The Federal Minister of the Interior of Germany Thomas de Maizière added, echoing what was said by his British colleague: “It is always hard to come back, it is true. But now, when we are reaching the agreement, we clearly distinguish those who truly need protection and who does not. And however hard it may be, the second ones should leave Europe”. The following migrants are considered to be “redundant” among others in Europe: citizens of Burkina Faso, Congo, Niger, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and some other African States where there are no open hostilities.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini only pointed out at the press-conference devoted to the results of the meeting on the plan of deportation: “We decided to work together with the countries of origin of illegal migrants, discussing coming back and reintegration of the citizens who don’t have the right to the international protection”.

Moreover, it is necessary to remind that on the eve of the Conference in Luxembourg the British Times has published information on “the secret plan of the European Union”. Allegedly, according to the plan, the Frontex, the EU’s external border agency, in the next weeks deports 400 thousand illegal immigrants, i.e. those who has not got the status of a refugee. There was no direct or indirect confirmation of this information before or after the meeting in Luxembourg; however, even if such plan doesn’t exist nowadays, it is quite probable that it will appear and it will happen very soon.

“In the next months it is necessary, first of all, to create a legal framework. And then to work through all questions which will allow to specify the procedure of homecoming for those migrants, who was refused in asylum in the EU”, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn said.

Among the detailed steps, which participants of the meeting in Luxembourg offered in order to overcome the present difficulties with the excessive flow of migrants to Europe, the intention of the certain countries to use Turkey in this matter more actively is outstanding. In particular, such an offer was made by the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier who tried to specifically highlight importance of Ankara as the key partner of the EU and the leading player in the region by which it is possible to reduce the migrants’ pressure upon Europe. In this regard he lobbied maintenance of activity of Brussels on “the emergency turn towards Turkey” and contribution to opening additional camps for refugees encompassing 2-2.5 million people at the territory of Turkey.

However, the German Foreign Affairs Ministry perfectly understands that the President of Turkey Erdogan plays his own game among others in the question of migrants for the purpose of getting the additional preferences from the EU. It is not only about getting an access to the European financial programs, but also about lobbying of a question of simplifying a visa regime for citizens of Turkey. However, taking into account need of formation of a rigid safety and control belt on external borders of the EU, Berlin is ready to temporarily activate the dialogue with Ankara on financial questions. Though, it doesn’t raise any doubts that such position of Germany is caused by a desire to provide for loyalty of Muslim electorate in Germany towards Chancellor Merkel, as well as to reinforce hopes of Ankara (most likely unrealisable) for the entry into the “United Europe” soon and on the preferred further orientation to the EU.

Such position of Frank-Walter Steinmeier attacks special attention, inter alia, having in the background recent speech of Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel on air of the German TV channel ARD, in which she said: “I was always against membership of Turkey in the EU” and reminded that she was against integration of Turkey into the EU even before taking office of Chancellor in 2005 and she is still keeps the position.

In general, among the politicians of Germany, Great Britain and even France, an understanding appears that due to the approaching winter there will be a reorientation of migrants’ flows. As there are not any prerequisites that the number of refugees will decrease, including because of military operation of Russia in Syria, it is expected that the corresponding load of conflict potential because of migrants in the countries of south-east Europe, in particular, in Greece, Bulgaria, on the Balkans, will increase, and, respectively, in the countries of Northern and Western Europe it is expected to be decreased. The political establishment of the EU intends to use the specified circumstance not only for turning the migrants’ flow back, but also for encouraging the States of the Middle East and the certain African countries for more active participation in getting refugees internally, thus putting the main migratory problems to their shoulders (first of all of those, related to the problems of safety and identification of possible presence of jihadists and ISIL emissaries in the flows of refugees), to a certain degree compensating it with financial grants.

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”