New Eastern Outlook
by Vladimir Odintsov
According to the European border agency, Frontex, approximately 340,000 immigrants arrived in European Union countries in the first seven months of 2015 which is an almost threefold increase in immigration to the EU compared to 2014.
The number of immigrants who arrived in July this year alone was 107,500 people, which is three times more than in July of last year.
Let’s not forget that in 2014 Europe took a total of 123,500 asylum seekers.
Over the course of the last two months, the largest influx of illegal immigrants has been observed in Greece, where in June alone 50,000 migrants arrived in the search for European asylum, “landing” on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos, which are the main tourist destinations in Greece, and for which cause Greece and the Greek tourist industry has already suffered a significant economic and social blow.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that as many immigrants arrived in the past week alone as did in the last six months of last year.
According to Frontex, 160,000 immigrants arrived in Greece in the first half of this year by sea, and a further 1700 people arrived by land – crossing the Greek-Turkish border.
Italy is another European country which has been bearing the brunt of the influx of immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East, which has gained momentum in the last few years. In the first half of this year, it took 90,000 illegal immigrants.
Since the beginning of the year, thousands of illegal immigrants have died in the Mediterranean sea in their attempts to reach Europe.
The International Organization for Migration announced that 3472 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean last year.
The previous year saw approximately 700 people die. The exponential rise can clearly be seen. However, it’s important to clarify that these figures only comprise data about those who died at sea and information that was published in the press. If, however, we take into account those who tried to get to Europe by land then the situation looks altogether worse.
We should also recognise the fact that the deaths in the Mediterranean of those seeking asylum, unfortunately has already become run-of-the-mill and commonplace, however it has a much greater significance if we acknowledge the tragedy of the hundreds of thousands of people in Africa and the Middle East trying to find a way of survival after the wars and the so-called “democratic revolutions” unleashed by the USA and its allies.
The crisis of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa has led to a significant dividing line between EU member-states and has put a few of the widely-held fundamental principles of the union to the test.
At the end of June, heated arguments broke out between European leaders at a meeting in Brussels about the quota system for refugees proposed by the EC.
The European Commission’s doubts are understandable:
Europe is not yet in a position to formally reject its ideological foundations – protecting human rights and granting asylum to all, whose lives are at risk.
However, according to a number of observers, the rejection of these principles is but a question of time, for otherwise the entire European framework is threatened with collapse.
In the meantime, the European Commission has shown itself to be completely incompetent in the face of the migration crisis.
The latest report about refugees by Amnesty International showed that despite an increased budget for aiding global development, currently approximately 50 million people have become refugees.
What’s more, the process of illegal migration has not only encompassed regions connected with the military conflicts unleashed by the West in the Middle East, but also Africa, where the “assiduous efforts” of certain political bigwigs of Washington, London, Paris and other European countries brought about the destruction of economic infrastructure and thus gave rise to a wave of economic migrants.
In these conditions more and more European states have started to erect walls and barriers to keep migrants out.
Such work has begun in Spain, where attempts are being made to curb the refugee influx with a barrier.
However, similar demarcation constructions are already in place on the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders.
A number of other states have recently set about actively building such “structures.”
Of particular note, Hungary decided to build a wall on its border with Serbia last month and Great Britain and France are currently reinforcing a demarcation fence to stop illegal migrants. (The new fence in Calais, which is approximately one mile long, has been paid for by UK tax payers and cost 7 million GBP, the BBC News reported.)
In a word, patting themselves on the bank for tearing down the Berlin Wall, which was an “inexcusable demarcation line between different worlds and cultures,” Western politicians are now clamouring about the need to erect similar new walls, to fence themselves off from the rest of the world!
EU politicians are even putting forward suggestions of rethinking the Dublin Regulation, according to which, countries return refugees to the first country through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU. However, should changes to this regulation be made, peripheral states such as Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain will not be able to cope with the growing influx of migrants.
British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, in the inherently inhumane manner of English conservatives goes even further and believes that “the number one priority of national security is the deportation of migrants” who are not entitled to apply for asylum at the border.
Steve Symonds of Amnesty International UK described the British Foreign Secretary’s statements as “shameful” and suggested that he should be working with the UK’s EU partners to ensure that people don’t drown in the Mediterranean or get crushed beneath lorries at Calais.
According to many political commentators, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for London and its allies to speed up their official review of identifying specific perpetrators of the military aggression in the Middle East and Africa with a view to not only punishing those involved, but also forcing those who played an active role in stirring up the overall chaos to take all responsibility (financial and otherwise) for finding a solution and eradicating the current situation.
However, London has decided to take another path and is intent on financing an information campaign designed to scare off migrants by debunking the myth of finding high living standards in the UK.
Representatives of the authorities emphasised that the government’s new plans to limit access to housing and health services as well as banning employers from employing illegal workers should make life for illegal migrants in the UK not only less pleasant, but even unbearable.
In particular, Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced that immigrants, arriving from other EU countries will be denied the possibility of receiving benefits in the first four years in the UK.
With the aim of capping the number of immigrants, arriving in Germany, the country’s authorities are looking at reintroducing border controls, believing that the Schengen Zone, which allows passport-free travel across mainland Europe, can no longer “exist” and that the policies on free movement within the EU itself need to be reconsidered.
According to German politicians’ assessments, Germany is the EU state that is currently suffering the most from the “influx of refugees.”
The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that approximately 800,000 people, claiming asylum, will arrive in Germany this year, which is almost double last year’s figures.
In view of the serious immigration crisis, the German state and local government will conduct an emergency meeting at the end of September and regional Employment Centres are demanding that the state set aside additional funds for the integration of refugees and immigrants into the labour market.
However, the population, primarily in East Germany, is greeting the new arrivals with mistrust and enmity and there have been multiple cases of attacks and arson attacks on refugee accommodation.
Right-wing radicals are particularly actively railing against the “guests.”
Germany is laying the main responsibility for the unprecedented influx of refugees with Italy and Greece, who, according to Berlin, are obliged to process the asylum applications of new arrivals and provide them with accommodation and essentials under the Dublin Regulation, but instead, refugees are being systemically allowed further into the European Union without documents.
However, a significant number of Europeans believe that the USA is to blame for the events with illegal immigrants that are currently ongoing in Europe. It’s believed that the USA has conducted a single-minded policy of destabilisation not only in the Middle East and Africa, but also in Europe and pays the transport facilitators bringing immigrants into Europe via the Mediterranean.
After all, all these transport facilitators, just like the American agents in the Arab Spring, are fully technically equipped and are supported on Facebook, Twitter and Skype.
The Austrian publication Info-Direkt recently came forward with these exact accusations, citing leaks from the secret services.
Such accusations can hardly be unfounded, especially if we consider what the military-financial spheres in the USA “gain” from this ubiquitous chaos.
Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.