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Europe does not know the refugee problem in depth and behaves in an outrageously naive manner

07 October 2015 / 20:10:28  GRReporter
3809 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

On the day that a record number of 7,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Athens, the Greek police detected one of the biggest trafficking channels that ensured the passage of hundreds of applicants to Western Europe through Greece.

In the operation they arrested 12 foreigners, nine of whom nationals of Pakistan, one Egyptian, one Iraqi and one woman from Syria.

They had acted together since May this year, creating six sub-groups that carried out different activities. Depending on how they helped the candidates to go to Europe, they used a different methodology. The first way was to assist foreigners to illegally arrive in Greece by air, the second to help them illegally leave Greece by crossing the land and sea borders, the third to receive the migrants arriving from Turkey to Kos and the fourth to secure their illegal sea crossing from Turkey to Greece.

In these cases, their collaborators in Turkey fuelled the boats with a small amount of fuel not sufficient for them to be able to continue their journey so that the Greek coast guard could find the people and transport them safely to the island of Kos. After the migrants arrived in Greece and before they departed to Western Europe, the traffickers kept them locked in a flat to avoid the likelihood of them contacting other trafficking networks. Those who were involved in the network issued fake identification documents to their customers by changing the photo of their actual owner with that of the migrant who wanted to leave. In addition, they "issued" fake Pakistani and Syrian passports. They used modern equipment and the end result seemed quite authentic. The police are still investigating the case to find their accomplices.

Earlier today, the European Commission spokeswoman said that the centres for registration of refugees in Greece would start operating within two weeks at the latest. Additional staff and experts would probably be sent to Greece to help the Frontex forces.

Meanwhile, boats full of migrants and refugees continue to arrive on the island of Lesbos and the debate about how long this flow will continue and if Europe is able to take so many people is intensifying. The voices of analysts who warn that their integration into European societies is impossible and the forced cohabitation will inevitably lead to clashes are already frequently heard.

GRReporter asked for comment Andreas Andrianopoulos, director of the Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations at the American College of Greece. He is a former minister and political analyst with extensive knowledge of the countries of Central and South Asia. He is the author of several books, two of which are devoted to Islam and its spreading.

Mr. Adrianopoulous, why do you determine the numerous migrant and refugee waves as an Islamic invasion in Europe?

I am saying that this is likely to happen. I have no evidence that this is true at present but I have sufficient reasons to suppose so. We should not forget that the civil war in Syria began three years ago. Why have we witnessed a mass and sudden influx of Syrian refugees over the past six months?

The second issue is that about five months ago the Islamic caliphate announced that it would fill Europe with 500,000 migrants, among which there would be Islamic militants. The moment it was announced we witnessed an intensifying refugee wave.

The third question is why nobody is setting off to the rich Muslim countries and all are turning to the West. Significantly, a large number of the so-called refugees are travelling to Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. These are Muslim countries that however have serious social and economic problems and are unable to take care of them and send them to other countries, for example in Europe.

We see, however, that no refugees are going to countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that these countries are close to Syria. The same is true for Azerbaijan.

Nor is it correct to assert that all participants in these migrant flows are refugees. For example, about 270,000-300,000 migrants have arrived in Hungary over the past four months, only 30% of them being from Syria. The rest have arrived from 18 other countries. Therefore, why on earth should we talk of political migrants fleeing Syria?

All these things are making me ponder what is happening. I think that the West has not explored the issue in depth, behaving in an outrageously naive manner.

Hungary has already reproached Greece for the increased flow to Western Europe. What is the responsibility of the Greek government? Is it an accidental coincidence with SYRIZA coming to power?

I think that the statements that Greece is responsible for the increased flow to Hungary were not particularly successful, because not only Greece is facing the challenge to deal with refugees. The same is true for Italy. Other countries would have a problem with the refugee flow if they were located not so far away and if they had not taken timely measures.

Countries such as Greece, because of the border with Turkey and its proximity to the Middle East, and Italy, because of its proximity to North Africa and mainly to Libya, are the first edge of Europe. The Greek governments are certainly responsible because they have taken no measures and have made it clear that Greece is an open space that anyone can enter without any problem.

It is impossible for such a large number of migrants to be in the country and for the Greek government to tolerate the criticism that it is not treating them well. Its budget cannot bear the burden of taking care of tens of thousands of migrants without any assistance and support from anyone, neither in terms of border protection nor in connection with the finances required for this.

Surely, the government that was elected at the beginning of the year is responsible, especially in the face of indescribable former Minister for Migration Tasia Christodoulopoulou who created the impression that Greece could be freely entered and that the state would take care of those who arrived there, without being concerned over who entered the country and what would happen to those people later. It was outrageous behaviour.

However, the problem is more general. Greece needs a migration policy to specify who is actually a refugee and who is persecuted. For me, this term implies nothing negative. This is a migrant who enters the country without legal documents. These people are crossing the sea, losing their documents and we do know either who they are or where they are coming from. At some point, this issue must be resolved.

What measures should Europe take to deal with the problem?

The first measure should be to make clear who of those people are political migrants and who are persecuted. It should grant a residence permit to such a person, supervise where he is living and what he is doing, the prospect being for him to return to his country at some point and to be integrated into the community to which he belongs. All others should be extradited. And if they hide their country of origin, they have to be returned to the country from which they have entered. I.e. the people who come to Greece from Turkey should be returned there and the authorities in Turkey should address them. The third thing is that all these people have to understand that they cannot impose their values ​​and habits on the society in which they have arrived. My position is firm in this respect. Nobody has invited them to come. The moment the Muslims arrive here, they have to stop looking at society through the prism of Islam. If they want to come, they must comply with the laws and values ​​of the societies of the receiving countries.

Some analysts argue that Syrians are more moderate as the Sunni majority in the country have peacefully coexisted with both Muslim Shiites and Christians, and therefore they could integrate more easily into European societies for the time they stay in Europe. What is your comment?

Do the people who have said this know Islam and read the Quran? I doubt it.

For me it is an indicative fact that publications by Muslims appeared in the Bavarian media last week, Muslims who are already integrated into German society and who plead an end to the Oktoberfest, the famous beer festival, arguing that it violates the Islamic values. Some publications even state that it violates not only them but also the values ​​of migrants and refugees.

What does it mean? Do we need to change our values ​​and principles in accordance with those of the people who are coming?

Furthermore, the Quran describes Mohammed’s departure from Mecca and relocation to Medina. Having conquered it, he returned to Mecca to conquer it too. The Quran requires believers to follow his example. Therefore, the people who do not know Islam and have not read the Quran cannot understand. What we do is that we judge Muslims based on Christian beliefs and values. This is a mistake in my opinion.

Do you think that the arrival of so many migrants may cause conflicts and even clashes in Europe?

I think that is quite possible. We have a serious problem. If Europe is full of populations with different values ​​and different views and does not require them to abandon them and adopt the values ​​of those societies that have received them, we will inevitably have twists and clashes after some time.

It is logical. These things are already happening in Western countries such as Denmark, the UK and largely Germany where the percentage of Muslim population is high. These people want their values to be respected ​​and change the values ​​of the local societies in which assumingly they have come to live. This phenomenon will grow and conflicts will be serious.

Tags: SocietyDivide between refugees and illegal migrantsEuropeIslamMigration policy
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