Eighteen months ago, on March 21, 2014, GIS published a statement on ‘Europe's demographic tsunami.’ Even then, it was obvious that tectonic shifts in geopolitics were causing a massive wave of immigrants to build up south of the European Union, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
The European Commission and national governments of the EU member states chose to ignore the growing problem, hiding behind a screen of bureaucratic palliatives.
I have to admit, as a European, that I am ashamed. I am ashamed of the unpreparedness of individual governments and the EU as a whole, and of the pettiness of their response.
In its miserly way, the community used `fairness’ as a yardstick for apportioning refugee quotas to each country. Never mind that a`fair’ redistribution of refugees is a way of avoiding deeper consideration of the problem.
In any case, the total agreed by EU interior ministers yesterday in Brussels – 120,000 – is laughably small compared with the influx we are facing. Some 4 million refugees from Syria alone are now stuck in camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. There is plenty more in North Africa, not to mention economic migrants from the Balkans.
Meanwhile, the EU has treated us to haggling and low comedy. The interior ministers reportedly considered a solution allowing countries to accept fewer refugees by paying a 6,500-euros fine for each person below the quota. Even that did not ensure unanimity. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the mandatory allocations, while Finland abstained, according to reports.
Such embarrassments demand scapegoats. Hungary has been declared the bad guy, for building a wall and treating refugees badly. Unlike many of its critics, Hungary is a border country and a first destination for refugees. Under the EU’s Dublin convention, that means it is responsible for carrying out the asylum procedure and obliged to secure the bloc’s external frontier.
It is easy and no doubt satisfying for Berlin to criticise Budapest. Such criticism turned into hypocrisy, however, the moment Germany closed its borders to refugees.
Building walls against immigrants does not make sense. Yet Hungary’s claim that it was forced to do so by its Schengen Treaty obligations is essentially correct.
Finger pointing is irrelevant in any case. The numbers of refugees will inexorably increase and the pressure of migration is only beginning. Europe likes to split hairs about refugees from war zones and immigrants looking for a better life, but the tsunami that is building up in Africa will sweep away any such distinctions. It cannot be stopped.
Pettiness, hypocrisy, blaming others and hoping the problem will go away have left us with a policy of too little, too late. It is time to face the facts.
Europe’s demographic tsunami