Refugees Crisis Splits European Countries (I)
Pyotr ISKENDEROV | 17.09.2015 | WORLD / Europe

Refugees Crisis Splits European Countries (I)

Inside the European Union the discords are growing between Germany allied with Austria and the states of Central and Eastern Europe. The latter have grounds to believe that Berlin and Vienna – tacitly supported by Brussels – try to shift the heavy financial, political, social and cultural burden on their shoulders.

Hungary is a good example. The government of Victor Orban plans to stop the free flow of refugees across its territory to Germany and Austria. Zoltán Kovács, the government spokesperson, assured that Hungary will comply with its obligations, defend its borders and try to register all coming migrants. He said, German and Austrian leaders encourage migration and make them believe they are welcome. As a result, they refuse to cooperate with authorities and register. Austria has let in thousands without identification. He said the governments of these countries don’t even know whom they allow to enter.

Later, Victor Orban called on Germany and Austria to close their borders to migrants. Budapest says that the Dublin agreement makes the first country asylum seekers enter inside the EU responsible for their fate. In other words, the majority of refugees go to Germany or Austria but Hungary is in hot water because it is the first EU country on their route.

Besides, Orban reiterated his opposition to European Commission’s plans to introduce refugee quotas: “Without providing strict border control, just to speak about a quota system, it's an invitation for those who will come, who would like to come. That's a problem."

Germany – a decisive member of the European Commission on problems related to Central Europe – is trying to do its best to ease own refugee burden while positioning itself as a “friend of migrants” and an attractive island of stability and well-being. Obviously, these are two contradictory goals. According to the estimates of German experts, all in all Germany will have to allocate around 10 billion euros to accommodate migrants, which is 4 times the sum it spent last year. Back then around 200 thousand asylum seekers entered the country. This year Germany plans to receive a total of 800 thousand people. Annual cost per refugee stands at between 12,000 and 13,000 euros, which covers accommodation, meals, pocket money, health costs and administrative expenses.

There is another aspect of the problem. Neither the European Commission, nor Germany can undertake resolute measures to cope with the situation without damage to their political image, which is, to great extent, built on so called multiculturalism. Increasing radicalization of Central Europe and Germany is obvious. Chancellor Angela Merkel had to rush to Saxony and reduce tensions there. And suddenly it springs to mind that it was Germany who gave birth to National Socialism…

Despite that, the European Commission and the German government prefer to live in the world of illusions. Besides, the Brussels bureaucracy cannot influence the events in the countries where refugees come from.

Wars are raging in the vicinity of safe and rich Europe and people have no choice but to flee and save their lives. Refugee flows will continue.

Polish media argues that the flows would stop only if there were no wars or if asylum seeking became an equally dangerous endeavor. In other words, it’s either Europe intervenes into the conflicts that result in refugee flows, or stops the migration by force... It’s hard to imagine any of these scenarios. If the government estimates are right and 800 thousand people do really come to Germany, the public reaction will change in the long run and the Schengen agreement will be doomed…

The Brussels bureaucracy is mired in unprecedentedly cynical and, at the same time, listless haggling: should national governments be temporarily allowed to “buy out” from complying with the refugee quotas? For instance, the European Commission is considering the possibility of substituting compulsory quotas for some EU members with financial contributions. It is painted as taking into consideration the concerns of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other states that display discontent with the policy of Brussels accusing it of trying to solve the refugees’ related problems at their expense.

Even here the European Commission implements an ambiguous policy. Brussels says the payments to a special fund will allow some states to avoid the compliance with extended compulsory quotas, but only temporarily.

In other words, Slovakia or Hungary will have to pay for preserving its demographic, social, economic, cultural and national balances. But it will not last forever. After a while it is going to start all over again, or may be new payments to the European Commission will be introduced.

Besides, Brussels insists that any refusal to comply with quotas should be substantiated by “objective reasons”. And it will be up to European commissars and Mrs Angela Merkel to decide if the reasons are objective enough.

(To be continued)

Tags: European Union