29.12.2016 Author: Grete Mautner

EU and its Migration Crises

34534234234It’s expected that the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini would be meeting a group of sixteen Foreign Ministers on January 29. Among the main topics to be discussed during the meeting one can mention illegal migration, which has become a threat to the very existence of the European Union. It’s curious that Mogherini is going to discuss the matter with the representatives of those states that rigidly oppose migration.

It goes without saying that illegal migration resulted in the radicalization of the European society and contributed big time to the growth of organized crime in the EU, for this reason in his traditional Christmas address, Czech President Milos Zeman has vocally opposed the practice of unconditional admission of migrants from Muslim countries.

German authorities in 2016 have forcibly deported a total of 24 thousand workers. Now they are going to pay financial compensation to some 50 thousand men who announced their desire to leave Germany voluntarily. The Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller has recently announced the Berlin will allocate 150 million euros to start returning refugees home.

However, migrants from other regions of the world are not the only ones to present a potential threat to the European Union. In mid-December Duisburg’s police detained two men from Kosovo, who were suspected of staging terrorist attacks. Today, Islamism and Islamic radicalization have reached the most distant areas of the EU, like the Baltic states where refugees remain a rare sight. But as an ever increasing number of Latvians embark on the trip to Syria, local Islamic communities continue publishing extravagant statements. According to the Latvian police officials there’s at least three criminal cases being investigated on the possible participation of Latvian residents in the Syrian war. In March, the head of the Latvian Security Police Normunds Mezhviets in an interview to the Latvian TV station LNT announced that at least one Latvian citizen was killed in Syria after joining ISIS together with his family, while radicals carry one recruiting an ever increasing number of young men in Latvia.

The situation in Baltic states is being aggravated by the fact that the ever growing resentment against migrants in the leading European states is affecting those who tried to find a better employment abroad. For instance, it’s been reported time and time again that Latvians don’t feel welcome in the UK anymore, and for a good reason. A total of 300 thousand workers arrived from Latvia to different European states over the last decade. Most of these migrants are living in Britain now, while the latter is expected to leave the EU and deport all those who have overstayed their welcome. This fact provokes so much frustration in the Baltic states that US Senators Lindsey Graham and John Mccain were even forced to visit the region to “reassure their allies.”

But it must be clarified that in contrast to the illegal migrants from the Middle East and Africa, that are fleeing to Europe to escape hunger, destruction and wars that destroyed their countries in the wake of the US and EU aggression, citizens of the Baltic states are heading West for entirely different reasons. It’s been reported time and time again that high unemployment rates and low wages remain the main cause of the mass emigration of the people of Lithuania and Latvia to other EU states.

In 2016 alone a total of 23 thousand people left Lithuania to look for a better life abroad, which constitutes a 6.5% increase over the previous year. It’s curious that people are fleeing even the most economically successful regions like Vilnius and Klaipeda. According to Eurostat, 29% of the population are at a risk of getting beyond poverty line and there’s been no signs of any improvement to be observed over the last eight years. In turn, the Department of Statistics would note that about 640 thousand people are actually living beyond poverty line, which accounts for 22% of the country’s population. Wages in Lithuania still remains the smallest in Europe. Every week over one hundred man leaves Lithuania, which results in at least 35 thousand people fleeing the country each year. Eurostat predicts that Lithuania will lose 38% of its indigenous population over the next decade, after losing at least 25% of its population in the quarter century after the dissolution the the Warsaw pact.

According to EU officials, more than half of labor migrants from the Baltic States are people aged 19 to 35 years that have already received education.

So, who stays home in that case? – It may seem strange to someone, but foreigners in Latvia, for example, are most concerned with how much prostitutes charge. This was the most common question for potential English-speaking tourists in 2015 according to Google. Latvia has become a European center for sex tourism sixteen years ago – after a scandalous documentary Bye Bye Beauty shot by the Swedish director Paul Holander was aired worldwide.

Aside from being a sort of a sex capital of the EU, Baltic states show increasing drinking rates. For example, the World Health Organization announced that Lithuania is among the leaders of alcohol consumption in Europe.

Latvia and Lithuania are ahead of other European states in terms of the number of people working for meager salaries. At least 25.5% of employees in Latvia receive at least two thirds of the average hourly wage. Lithuania’s spending on social protection are among the lowest in the EU as well. In this respect Lithuania can only be overcome by the neighboring Latvia, informs the Economic Observer.

In Lithuania, due to the lack of funds for the maintenance of the country’s 14 universities, authorities are planning to reduce the number of students they would provide education to each year. Minister of Education and Science Jurgita Petrauskene in an interview with a local portal recognized that the state can not provide the conditions to raise  a competitive enviroment in educational institutions.

However, even against this very poor background the ruling political elites of the Baltic states remain determined to increase military spendings at the expense of social programs. In particular, Estonia intends to increase its spendings according to the NATO recommendations to the level of 2% of GDP, as it has recently been stated by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

So the illegal migration from crisis-ridden Middle East and Africa regions in the coming years will remain a source of serious challenges for Europe, but also a mass exodus of the indigenous population from the Baltic countries because of the failed policies pursued by the political elites of these states.

Grete Mautner is an indepenent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.