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Radu Dobriţoiu

8 Septembrie 2019
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Migrants and their pressure on Europe – an important issue for European stability and security, impacting the continent's future.

Migration: A new major crisis for Europe?


RADIO ROMANIA NEWS "Euroatlantica" Producer, Radu Dobriţoiu: Migrants and their pressure on Europe – an important issue for European stability and security, impacting the continent's future. After a peaceful period, when Turkey showed willingness to keep migrants in refugee camps, it seems that the problem of refugees has reappeared at the southeastern border of the continent, but also in the Mediterranean, crossed by migrants coming from Africa. This problem is pressing Europe more and more, both at its borders and in the countries where tens of thousands of immigrants have already arrived. Brussels authorities have found that the number of migrants’ arrivals from Turkey has seen a significant increase in recent times, which shows that the agreement between the European Union and Turkey is not working properly. "Euroatlantica" analyzes this issue with Special Guest Liviu Mureşan, Executive President of EURISC Foundation and with press correspondents from Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy. 

Radu Dobriţoiu: Mr. Liviu Mureşan, over the last five years, the waves of migrants heading to Europe have been on top of agendas of discussions for the European security and stability. The Arab Spring, followed by the Syrian crisis, insecurity in large areas of the Middle East - are these the main causes that led to massive population exodus?

Liviu Mureșan: If we look at the main area where problems arose as a result of conflict, population movements inside and outside the borders - I refer to Syria, we will understand that this is a very complex problem. Departures are also in a desperate search for a quiet area, especially since we see that most of the refugees are with families. So, the opening of Europe to the Syrian tragedy and European population in 2015 justified, to some extent, opening of the gates of Europe for the coming waves. There are also phenomena that we did not think about, that is, Syrians trying to cross the border just to return home later, to reconstruct their homes, or the fact that there are areas where they can find shelter, even if places they come from were destroyed. There is also a program funded by the Syrian reconstruction authorities at local level, until larger reconstruction programs of entire areas become operational. This phenomenon is particularly complex and Europe has not known, does not know, and does not show it understands the long-term consequences. What is being discussed is just the number of refugees registered on the border of a western European country, how many are accommodated.

Radu Dobriţoiu: With Turkey /..../

Liviu Mureşan: We’ll talk about Turkey.... How many are put in camps, how many are on the move. There is no clear picture of the over one million people who entered Europe, who went from south to north and all the consequences. If only 1% of them are related to terrorist or organized crime activities then there is a particular problem ...

Radu Dobriţoiu: A threat.

Liviu Mureşan: Now Turkey has a special situation. It is also a problem of Turkey, but it is a problem of Europe. So Europe has had a commitment to Turkey, which it has not respected for years.

Radu Dobriţoiu: All in all, yes.

Liviu Mureșan: The respective amounts did not come on time and came to a much smaller extent, given that in Turkey there are two, three million people. 

Radu Dobriţoiu: 2,500,000 declared.

Liviu Mureșan: ... Declared, who, at any time, can be helped to leave to Europe. In addition to the aces Turkey has, it also has this migration weapon. And the first victim is Greece, by its proximity and traditional relations with ...

Radu Dobriţoiu: We will also talk about Greece, but until then, Mr. Liviu Muresan, another question related to the precedent. Europe, the EU said it did not fully understand the Syrian crisis, but shouldn’t Europe have had to take action at other levers besides negotiating with Turkey, for example a greater involvement in Syria's reconstruction process, perhaps even alongside the United States? Why not with alongside Russia which has some areas over there, because once certain areas of Syria are rebuilt and money is invested there, crisis developed in Europe by arrival of migrants can be reduced. In other words, I think that this problem should have been solved at its core rather than its logical course.

Liviu Mureşan: Right. I remember comments from the 2015 German press, which spoke about the positive effect of these population movements from Syria to Germany, because, they said, in Germany the number of doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. will increase. These comments never considered that all those people leaving Syria will not have help to rebuild their country. So, kind of a selfish thinking - very well, some of them are qualified, we need them ... - forgetting that in the opposite side (n.a) the problem, the wound remains open. This is a very simple matter. It is useless to prepare redistribution programs, it’s people we are talking about, not numbers, people with families, there are social, cultural, religious problems, with great complexity. The effort is made to the maximum on this problem of crossing the border and less on leaving the area of Africa, the Middle East and others, and arriving at the destination and their integration.

Radu Dobriţoiu: It seems that Turkey no longer supports the agreement with the European Union and allows migrants to go to Greece or to follow other routes, to south - east Europe. For a period, stopped by Ankara, the exodus of migrants from the Turkish camps to Europe was apparently resumed. 

Radio Romania News correspondent in Athens, Michaela Lamprinidou, for "Eurotrantica": The issue of migration was one of the main topics on the agenda of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's meetings, with counterparts from France, Germany and the Netherlands. As Greek Prime Minister stressed, it is a mistake to restrict this file only to the states in which the migrants arrive, when in fact we are all part of the problem, and the burden should not be borne exclusively by the states at the external borders of Europe. Brussels authorities were alarmed that the number of arrivals from Turkey registered a significant increase for both the Greek islands and the land border, which shows that the EU-Turkey agreement signed in 2016 is no longer working. The EU has expressed deep concern, but Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has rejected EU officials' assertions that there is a growing influx of migrants from Turkey to Greece, although Ankara has repeatedly threatened in the past that it will no longer apply the agreement, unhappy with the delay in eliminating visas for Turkish citizens. However, statistical data show that about 20,000 new migrants arrived in 2019 join the approximately 60,000 asylum seekers, already housed in the reception centers on the Greek islands, which are nearing the limit, indicating a clear potential for a new massive wave of migrants if no prompt action is taken. In light of these developments, mayors from eastern Aegean islands held talks with EU officials on Wednesday to develop a joint action plan on migration, while the new Greek Government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, approved a set measures to decongest the Aegean refugee camps, by intensifying transfers to mainland Greece, streamlining the asylum application process and deporting faster to Turkey those who do not qualify, according to the agreement signed between EU and Turkey.

Radu Dobriţoiu: Therefore, in southeastern Europe we can say that Greece is the first target for this corridor from Turkey. We know very well, on the other hand, as you also said it, that migration is another weapon Turkey has. E all know that there is also a "historical conflict" between Greece and Turkey. And there it is, migrants put pressure on Greece first.

Liviu Mureşan: Migrants create problems all the way, from the starting point, stationary to the "final destination" - with the quotation marks.

Radu Dobriţoiu: That is why we call them migrants and not immigrants, because they do not have a direct target, departure-arrival, they are just heading for a certain direction in Europe.

Liviu Mureşan: Three years ago, there was a European conference in the Netherlands on critical infrastructures, their vulnerabilities and we were talking about a possible impact of migrants on these critical infrastructures, voluntarily or not. So, there are houses, there are localities, there are islands that are no longer deal with this situation in Greece.

Radu Dobriţoiu: They are suffocated, yes.

Liviu Mureşan: They are suffocated by the number of people.

Radu Dobriţoiu: And we even saw pictures of some migrants who took advantage of the fires in Greece, they really amplified them.

Liviu Mureșan: This is where I wanted to get. So it is gradually coming to a form of blackmailing the authorities through these simple forms for now, which can be identified, setting fires, but in the future we have to consider the possibility of these people attacking vulnerable areas just to get some rights.

Radu Dobriţoiu: In recent weeks, Bulgaria daily returns 100-150 illegal migrants to Greece, who are trying to reach Serbia, on their way to Germany and the Scandinavian countries. The information was announced in Berlin by Prime Minister Boiko Borisov. 

Radio Romania News Correspondent in Sofia Petio Petkov for "Euroatlantica": Prime Minister Borisov said: The agreement with Turkey is working now because of my meetings with President Erdogan. With Greece in Schengen, however, the situation is more complicated, the number of illegal migrants trying to reach Bulgaria increases. After a meeting in Berlin with Chairman of the Group of the Social-Christian Union, Alexander Dobrindt, Borisov said that in these conditions he no longer wants Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen area. "I will not welcome entry into Schengen. If Alexander Dobrindt declares' you are now in Schengen', migrants will assault us". The 180-degree change of the Prime Minister's position on joining the Schengen Area surprised Bulgarian politicians and journalists. Borisov believes that Bulgaria will be more attractive to migrants as soon as it becomes a member of the Schengen area. The German politician expressed his heartfelt thanks for Bulgaria's contribution to guard EU’s border. In Sofia, there are fears that in the event of deterioration of the Bulgarian-Turkish relations the wave of illegal migrants, who has been heading to Greece over the past weeks, could be redirected to Bulgaria.

Radu Dobriţoiu: Mr. Liviu Mureșan, we hear such an opinion from a Bulgarian official for the first time, if we are not in Schengen, we will not be a target for migrants. 

Liviu Mureșan: We should, from time to time, to look at our neighbors, to how they approach these issues politically and, without supporting the point of view expressed, however, the simple acceptance without any comment of a number of such migrants to be sent to Romania I find it absolutely risky. So, if we have to receive and contribute to this effort, Romania can set some conditions of selection. So, among the Syrian refugees, we can require a selection of Christians, so that we can really integrate them, not just for them to stay and wait for years...

Radu Dobriţoiu: Maybe to see that they have links with the Syrian community in our country.

Liviu Mureșan: That’s the point, given that we already have about 50 thousand mixed families.

Radu Dobriţoiu: Very well organized.

Liviu Mureşan: Well organized. So it would be a much more controlled absorption, easy and with a possibility to solve the core problem, not the simple closure in an area ...

Radu Dobriţoiu: An operation that should be coordinated including with this Syrian community, which could receive funds.. 

Liviu Mureșan: So this is the call I make: when there will be a political commitment, all these aspects should be taken into consideration. So far we have discussed more about this terrestrial corridor which has become a priority. Let us not forget that for two, three years ago we mainly dealt with the maritime corridor, respectively from Libya to Italy with that avalanche of ...

Radu Dobriţoiu: We have the two conflict zones, Mr. Liviu Mureşan, we have Syria and, of course, Libya, because there too is an unfinished conflict.

Liviu Mureșan: Libya is only the corridor. Few Libyans are leaving. The main reservoir is in the Sub-Saharan area and from here we start to look carefully at what is happening with this political situation in Libya and its impact.

Radu Dobriţoiu: We will also have a correspondence from Rome to address this topic. But until then, Hungary's fence on the border with Serbia seems to have blocked the entry of migrants into the country. This year about 7,300 people entered Hungary illegally. 

Radio Romania News Correspondent in Budapest, Emil Groza, for "Euroatlantica": The number of people who tried to enter Hungary illegally has dropped significantly since 2015 when the Budapest Government decided to build a border fence with Serbia and introduce more stringent regulations on immigrants and refugees. If four years ago it was necessary to take measures in 456,000 cases, in 2018 only around 5,600 people tried to cross the border or illegally entered Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister's Adviser on Security Issues György Bakondi announced that in the first eight months of this year, police detained a total of around 7,300 people who entered Hungary illegally. The Hungarian official said that every day an attempt was made to illegally cross the border, immigrants trying to enter Hungary with the help of traffickers, hidden in vehicles or through breaches in the southern border fence, and the measures taken in previous years by the Hungarian government proved to be effective. Recently, Ministry of Internal Affairs informed that it will request for another half a year the state of crisis generated by the mass migration, declared in 2016 by the Hungarian government and extended since then from six to six months.

Radu Dobriţoiu: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán again drew attention to the country's demographic problems and expressed in favor of the importance of supporting families, considering that migration is not a solution. From the correspondence of my colleague Emil Groza I noted that Viktor Orbán also said that for a successful demographic policy, there is a need for reinforcement of Christianity in Europe, for existence of partners and an increase of the Hungarian economy by at least two percent above the European average, every year until 2030. Mr. Liviu Muresan, you said earlier we should look at our neighbors ... You also mentioned the solution to the demographic problem of Europe, which can also be represented by migrants. Please refer to the information we received from Budapest.

Liviu Mureşan: Yes, it is perhaps an approach that can trigger some discussions, this call that I make, to look at other countries that set conditions to receive these people.

Radu Dobriţoiu: "The Countries of Visegrad", we know very well.

Liviu Mureșan: That's right. There are countries that impose immigrants to learn their respective languages if they really want integration. It raises the question of renouncing or of a controlled development of religious activities in the context of existing structures in the respective countries and not the creation of new religious structures with outside influence. At the same time, the alert that appeared, and lately we have not found enough elements, is this alert to the extraordinary potential of organized crime and terrorism. Italy was the victim of this pressure, it was a connection between organized crime and activities ..., corrupt authorities in Libya, terrorists who were there and wanted to infiltrate their people and structures in the Italian mafia and other criminal structures in Europe.

Radu Dobriţoiu: You have already mentioned structures with outside influence. We already have in some parts of Europe, even in Berlin, even in other..., in the Netherlands there are entire neighborhoods made up of Muslims who are simply neighborhoods influenced from outside. You reminded of Italy, which for more than a year has closed its ports because of illegal migration from Africa (…). 

Radio Romania News Correspondent in Rome, Elena Postelnicu, for "Euroatlantica": If until about a month ago Italy, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini, leader of far-right League party, had closed for almost a year ports to all humanitarian ships with migrants rescued in the Mediterranean, now with the new executive, Conte bis, that recently took the oath, the situation could change and this due to the Democratic Party of the current coalition that does not agree with certain measures in the bis security decree (anti-migrant, n.a.), approved in December 2018. The Democratic Party has always argued that management of migrants is done by confronting them at European level, starting from the assumption that these desperate people who leave Africa do not intend to reach Italy, but Europe. Both the control of flows and redistribution of migrants must be done by all the countries of the European Union; practically on paper - the Democratic Party also considers - this line has already been followed with the start of the "Sofia" operation and with the commitment to relocate the migrants, but the obligations were not respected and, in fact, only a few migrants who arrived in Italy were then received by other nations. According to the Institute for International Policy Studies in Rome, by 2020 the number of illegal migrants in Italy could exceed 670,000, almost double the 300,000 illegal migrants registered five years ago on the Peninsula. From January 1 to July 8, 2019 following the drastic measures imposed by Matteo Salvini, only 3,000 illegal migrants landed in southern Italy, a very small number compared to last year's 16,750 and compared to 2017, when over 85,000 people arrived in Italy, illegally crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Radu Dobriţoiu: Mr. Liviu Muresan, these numbers transmitted from Rome by my colleague Elena Postelnicu are worrying. In Italy alone there are 670,000 immigrants, as Elena Postelnicu says. What can we do with relocating, managing all the migrants, immigrants who already arrived in Europe? It is a growing problem pressing Europe.

Liviu Mureșan: There is little talk about the tensions that exist among these migrants. They come from different countries, different cultures. There are struggles for the control of these groups (…) and situations with leaders in touch with local criminal organizations. In this area, in Europe, there should be better coordination among services in order to have the appropriate information and I would like to point out that for about 10 years, Romania has made a great contribution, by setting up and hosting an organization in Bucharest, main regional organizations for combating cross-border organized crime, which also address some of the issues we have presented here.

Radu Dobriţoiu: An evolving situation. It will be interesting to see what Turkey will do in the future and what will happen to the new government in Italy. But surely, this issue of migrants will remain under everybody’s attention because of the importance and pressure it has on the European security and stability. "Euroatlantica" at the end. We have talked about “a new major crisis that might be caused by migrants heading to Europe”.

Source:RRA.Translated by Miruna Matei

Etichete Exclusiv RadioMichaela LamprinidouPetio PetkovElena PostelnicuEmil GrozaRadu DobritoiuLiviu MuresanNicu Popescuemisiunea Euroatlantica

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