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June 25, 2022

Europe 2016: A year of challenges (III)

The refugee flow.

In a certain way, terrorist acts that followed one another last year in an increasing rhythm, thus projecting the image of a threat that imperatively must be annihilated immediately, from the symbolic Jihadist attack at the headquarters of “Charlie Hebdo” on January 6 to the massive war-announcing attack in Paris on November – all of these were conjugated with the amplitudes reached by the waves of refugees from the Middle East. Therefore, as a result of events in the night of New Year’s Eve 2012 in several German cities, involving apparently organized groups of refugees, the two threats were almost mistaken one for the other.

Which does not reflect the truth in any way. The terrorist threat should not be mistaken for the flow of refugee, although it is not impossible that the ISIL panoply of action would include such instrument as well (these conspiracy theories, as most observers describe them, were issued by some of the highest political authorities).

Yet, the statement that the wave of refugees represents a terrorist threat is false, just as it is real that some people are trying to present things this way, intending to create a psychological environment that opposes these issues at the level of the entire continent.

It is not for the first time that Europe experiences such wave of immigrants – some of them were registered right after the end of the Cold War – but it would be for the first time that the recent refugee exodus would be associated to terrorism. A reader was commenting on the forum of a highly circulated publication, on January 9, 2016, that “Humans have been migrating since the beginning. From their origin in Africa they spread all over the earth. Just last week, scientists reported that DNA studies show Irish origins are as diverse as the Middle East and Russia. “DNA analysis of the Neolithic woman from Ballynahatty, near Belfast, reveals that she was most similar to modern people from Spain and Sardinia. But her ancestors ultimately came to Europe from the Middle East, where agriculture was invented.”

The thing that still raises questions is the high number of young men in the total number of refugees, in the flow of over one million registered last year. In Sweden, 71 per cent of the refugees were men, most of them young and very young, and among teenagers, according to overall evaluations on the recent wave, the proportion was of 11.3 boys per one girl. Or, applied to Germany’s case (that has a population of 82 million inhabitants and a number of approximately 10 million of them in the age range of 20 – 30, reported in 2013), the recent wave might have a tremendous changing role in the future. In one of the possible evolution scenarios, these demographic realities “could also double or triple this migration’s demographic impact, pushing Germany toward a possible future in which half the under-40 population would consist of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants and their children. “(Ross Douhat , Germany on the Brink, NYT, Jan 9, 2016 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/opinion/sunday/germany-on-the-brink.html?_r=2).

Or, the absorption of such impact would exceed even the capacity of a society at the level of German one. Closing borders – therefore, cancelling Schengen , at least temporarily – appears with increasing frequency as the only solution for the German society to preserve its specific data, and Merkel should pay politically for her mistake by being dismissed from her present position. We are referring to another opinion quoted from the forums, representing therefore a voice of regular citizens: “the solution is not in Germany: it’s in the Middle East. Simply put: Western nations, including the USA have to get together and begin opening factories there making stuff. I don’t care what. Popcorn to feed fish or pack up Ferraris for the rich, but SOMETHING. The poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity (…) is the basic problem. Women are competitors on the market.”

These opinions do not contain, obviously, the entire variety of the ones circulated in public regarding this issue that has suddenly become, since last summer, one of the most threatening for the solidity and even for the existence of the EU. For a renowned expert ( G. Rachman from “Financial Times”) , the migration in 2015, which is still ongoing, represents a reverse trend to the one imposed for hundreds of years by Europe to the entire globe in colonial times, when massive crowds of immigrants from Europe moved to all continents under the flag of the civilisation-spreading mission of the “white man”.

Actually, this trend of European colonisation of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries continued until the start of the twentieth century and represented – in this perception – a “demographic imperialism”, creating colonies everywhere and granting immigrants economical opportunities and, therefore, today’s migration is a mere response.
On the contrary, a politician in a position of high responsibility stresses out (Jean- Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission), this massive challenge was a test to European solidarity and Europe has given a positive response – Juncker considers. From tripling the presence of the EU at the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to decrease, if not stop losses of immigrants’ lives to the measures adopted against criminal networks of traffickers and peddlers, from their quota-based relocation in member states to the agreement with Turkey, destined to identify common solutions, Juncker does not hesitate in being optimistic and firm: “But we will not concede defeat. We will not give in to fear by rebuilding walls so recently torn down. We will not confuse the perpetrators of these heinous crimes with those fleeing in their wake.” ( https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/european-solidarity-greek-crisis-refugees-by-jean-claude-juncker-2016-01).

The plan conceived by the EU in order to deal with the refugee crisis was started being implemented in January 2016 and it is hoped that, by the end of March, it would be applied in its entirety.

Building walls is not an adequate means to reduce this human flow that will seek other breeches – much riskier than present ones – to get to their targeted countries, especially Germany. It is evaluated at the time being, even by the highest European authorities, that Europe has no more than two or three months ahead to fix things and to find a way to control the massive immigration of South.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, declared over a week ago that “We have no more than two months to get things under control,” warning that the EU Summit-ul UE in Brussels on March 17-18 “will be the last moment to see if our strategy works.” (http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-01-19/doctors-without-borders-condemns-attempts-to-deter-migrants) From this perspective, it is to be noted that a few experts notice the confusion Europeans experience these days.

In comparison with their colonial past, when they justified colonisation as a civilising mission, in post-Imperial and post-Holocaust Europe, this purpose ( in which the Bible has played a major role) “has replaced a belief in its civilising mission and the Bible with an emphasis on universal values, individual rights and international treaties.”( Gideon Rachman, “Mass migration into Europe is unstoppable”, January 11, 2016, http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/64d058c4-b84f-11e5-b151-8e15c9a029fb ). Other experts have emphasised that a mission of the entire international community, not just of the EU, is to conceive a global, robust and efficient system to grant solutions to these complex issues. The only problem is, these experts point out, that this necessary and salutary construction would be intensely obstructed if torrents of refugees on a global scale would be considered as mere fight weapons in a malefic plan to turn Europe into an Eur-abia or to apply the vision presented by French writer Michel Houellebecq in his novel “Submission”, when the streets of the continent will become the battlefield of bloody conflicts between locals and newcomers or their offspring. (P. Sutherland, “A Better Year for Migrants?”, January 12, 2016-https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/refugee-crisis-europe-by-peter-sutherland-2016-01#YeUmDZ3MlMlKR3Cu.99).

Not to mention that such perception “plays” in favour of extremist, reactionary parties that oppose Liberal values and thus act in the direction of weakening social cohesion, especially in targeted countries or in the ones found on the traveling route of the refugee flow.
And, on the other hand, security challenges affecting the stability of the continent are closely connected among them, and such strengthening of extremist, reactionary and nationalist-extremist political trends will support – willingly or not – the assault launched on Eastern borders, destined to create a new power balance intended by Moscow.

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Helsinki – 16 July 2018