3 February 2017

Last week I talked to the daily paper Trouw in the Netherlands about ESI’s proposal for a Malta Plan – a humane and effective EU border and asylum policy. Here it is (in Dutch).

 

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Filed under: Asylum,Europe,Refugees,Turkey — christian @ 12:45 pm
29 January 2017

A new ESI report on this is coming early next week – in recent weeks we presented the ideas below at many meetings to policy makers, from Athens to Stockholm, from Berlin to Brussels. 

If Europe’s current refugee and migration crisis has made anything clear over the past two years, it is this: the European Union urgently needs a credible, effective policy on asylum and border management that respects existing international and EU refugee law and controls external land and sea borders. It must treat asylum seekers respectfully while deterring irregular migration and undermining the business model of smugglers; it must save lives and respect the fundamental ethical norm of the rule of rescue, not push individuals in need into danger, which is at the heart of the UN Refugee convention (and its key article 33 on no-push backs).

The EU-Turkey agreement on refugees in the Aegean adopted on March 18, 2016, contains the elements of such a policy – but to serve as a good model it has to be fully implemented. The agreement is based on existing EU laws on asylum and on the principles of the UN Refugee Convention. It commits the EU to helping improve conditions for refugees in Turkey (the country in the world hosting the largest number of refugees today) with the most generous contribution the EU has ever made for refugees in any country in the world. It also makes improving the work and quality of the Turkish asylum service a matter of direct interest to the EU: only if Turkey has a functioning asylum system can it be considered a safe third country. Finally and crucially, it foresees substantial resettlement of refugees in an orderly manner from Turkey once flows of irregular arrivals in the Aegean are reduced. The fact that this last provision has not yet been implemented seriously does not make it any less important to the overall logic of the agreement.

Even without full implementation, the agreement has produced a dramatic and immediate impact on refugee movements in the Eastern Mediterranean. Crossings in the Aegean Sea fell from 115,000 in the first two months of the year to 3,300 in June and July. The number of people who drowned in the Aegean fell from 366 people in the first three months of the year to seven between May and July. This was achieved without pushing refugees to take other, more dangerous routes (the people arriving in Southern Italy this year were from African countries). And there have not been any mass expulsions from Greece either, something NGOs had feared would happen. In fact, more people had been sent back from Greece to Turkey in the three months preceding the agreement (967) than in the ten months since it was concluded (777).

It is obvious, however, that the EU has no current plan or credible strategy for the Central Mediterranean, and this presents a huge risk. The status quo is clearly unacceptable from a humanitarian point of view: in 2016 an unprecedented number of people (more than 4,400) drowned in the Central Mediterranean. It is also politically explosive, lending ammunition to those on the far-right across Europe (from Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to Marine Le Pen in France and the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany). They argue that the only way to control migration to Europe is by abolishing the Schengen open borders regime and restoring border controls within the European Union. The lack of a coherent EU strategy has led some to suggest looking to Australia for inspiration, praising a model whereby anyone reaching the EU by sea should be denied the right to even apply for asylum in the EU and be returned to North Africa. This would amount to the EU turning its back on the Refugee Convention, which would be a moment of existential crisis also for the UNHCR anf global policy on asylum.

A humane and effective border and asylum policy is indeed possible, and it does not involve emulating the Australian model. The first step requires implementing the EU-Turkey agreement in full. The second step would involve applying the right lessons to the Central Mediterranean as well. Both would require the EU to set up new structures, including credible EU asylum missions and instruments to resettle refugees, among others. Both depend on Greece and Italy persuading other EU countries that the challenge they face is a European one that requires innovative European solutions.

Following Through

Nearly a year after it was signed into action, the EU-Turkey agreement remains at risk – and that despite its successes so far. This is because of inadequate implementation.

On average, less than 100 people have been returned to Turkey each month; many people who arrived on the Aegean islands have remained struck there in limbo for extended periods of time, while the number of new arrivals has been some 100 a day on average in recent months.

All this creates a realistic scenario for failure. Greek authorities, under pressure and without an answer for islanders who see Lesbos and Chios turning into a European Nauru (the Pacific island where Australia sends people who arrive by boat), might move larger numbers of people from the Aegean islands to the mainland. That would again lead to rising numbers of people crossing the Aegean. Once larger groups are moved to the Greek mainland, the humanitarian situation for refugees there, which is already bad, will deteriorate further. We would see the populist-led calls to build a stronger wall north of Greece multiply.

Already now, the number one topic of conversation among migrants stranded on the Greek mainland is the cost of getting smuggled across the Balkan route, either via Macedonia or Bulgaria. It is hard to imagine Greece making a major effort to stop people from leaving the country if Greeks feel the EU has left them alone. The weak Macedonian reception and asylum system might then collapse within weeks, once more people cross the border. The Western Balkans would turn into a battleground for migrants, smugglers, border guards, soldiers and vigilante groups, destabilizing an already fragile region.

If this scenario played out, it would be a serious blow to European leaders like Angela Merkel, who argue that it is possible to have a humane and effective EU policy on border management while respecting the refugee convention. It would also be a blow to already tense EU-Turkish relations. What is needed now is the right implementation strategy.

The EU should appoint a special representative for the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement – a former prime minister or former foreign minister with the experience and authority to address urgent implementation issues on the ground. To preserve the agreement, the European Commission and Turkey should address all concerns raised about Turkey as a safe third country for those who should be returned from Greece. Such concerns can be addressed. As UNHCR noted already on March 18, 2016, everything depends on serious implementation:

“People being returned to Turkey and needing international protection must have a fair and proper determination of their claims, and within a reasonable time. Assurances against refoulement, or forced return, must be in place. Reception and other arrangements need to be readied in Turkey before anyone is returned from Greece. People determined to be needing international protection need to be able to enjoy asylum, without discrimination, in accordance with accepted international standards, including effective access to work, health care, education for children, and, as necessary, social assistance.”

Turkey would need to present a concrete proposal on how to ensure – and how to make transparent – that it is fulfilling the conditions set by EU law to be a credible safe third country for refugees of any origin, whether they are Pakistani, Afghan or Syrian, that Greece might return. It would need to guarantee – with more assistance from the EU and UNCHR, if need be – that there are sufficient asylum case workers, translators and legal aid in place to provide an efficient asylum process. There would need to be full transparency surrounding what is happening to each and every person returned, as well. Given the small number of people concerned this is all doable.

At the same time, the EU should send a European asylum mission to the Greek islands, including at least 200 case workers that should be able to take binding decisions on asylum claims (which would require an invitation by the Greek government and changes in Greek law, and assurances that any decision taken by such a mission could be suspended by a chief Greek legal officer). Those who are given protection should then be relocated across the EU immediately; all others sent back to Turkey. The principle behind an EU mission would be obvious: in times of crisis, there is a need for a substantial number of case workers, interpreters and reception officers to ensure quality standards for assessing protection requests, and with speed where most asylum requests are submitted. It would be unfair to blame Greece or any other country for being unable to deal rapidly with asylum requests of the tens of thousands of people; it would be unreasonable for Greece not to ask for such a European mission. Ultimately it is a matter of political will on the part of the EU and Turkey to deal with the few thousand asylum seekers now on the Aegean islands, in line with international norms and EU directives for their mutual benefit.

Adapting the Agreement

So far it has proven difficult to send a sufficient number of EU asylum caseworkers to Greece. At the same time, there are still no decent reception conditions for the relatively small number of people who have arrived on the islands since April 2016. These challenges cast serious doubt on proposals to slow illegal migration to Italy by setting up reception centers somewhere in North Africa; as some EU politicans have suggested, everyone who reaches Italy would be taken there to have their asylum claims processed. This is sometimes presented as a model inspired by Australia, which puts everyone who arrives via the sea in camps on the Pacific island of Nauru or on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. In fact, asylum seekers held in Nauru in recent years have been forced to wait many years for their applications to be decided. Conditions of detention were and remain intentionally harsh to deter further arrivals. And once asylum is granted, it remains unclear where refugees might go (recently the US offered to help out and promised to accept a large number of people moved to these islands by Australia; it remains unclear whether this will actually happen). It is important to note that Nauru never hosted more than a thousand people at any given time. The notion that the EU might outsource the detention of tens of thousands of asylum seekers to camps across North Africa for long periods and under similar conditions is surely a recipe for failure.

So how might the EU reduce the number of arrivals – and deaths – in the Central Mediterranean? The key lies in fast processing of asylum applications of anyone who arrives, and in fast returns of those whose claims are rejected to their countries of origin. Both of these tasks should become European responsibilities. Anyone who would not get asylum should be returned to his or her countries of origin. Prioritizing the returns of anyone who reaches Italy after a given date and does not get asylum should become the central issue to be negotiated with African countries of origin. On the other hand, those who are given asylum should be relocated across the EU to support Italy and Greece and replace the inadequate Dublin system (the notion that Dutch or German case officers would decide which refugees remain in Greece or Italy would obviously not be acceptable to these countries).

What would be the likely impact of such a policy on arrivals? It is very likely that these would fall sharply.

Nigerians were the largest group of arrivals in 2016, and the majority would be unlikely to risk their lives crossing the deadly Sahara, unstable Libya and the Central Mediterranean and spending thousands of Euros on smugglers when the likelihood of being returned to Nigeria would be upwards of 70 percent, which is the current rate of rejection of Nigerian asylum applications in the EU. As noted, ensuring that Nigeria, Senegal and other countries take back their nationals who arrive in Italy after an agreed date should be the chief priority in talks between the EU and Nigeria – similar to the commitment Turkey made to take back without delay people who arrive in Greece after March 20, 2016. This would require that an EU asylum mission in Italy is able to process all claims within weeks. Rapid readmission would bring down the number of people who stay in the EU after their applications are rejected. In this way, the number of irregular arrivals becomes manageable – with less business for smugglers and far fewer deaths at sea. The aim might be to reduce the number of all irregular arrivals by sea to below 100,000 (for an EU of over 500 million people) already in 2017. Such a goal is realistic: it is, after all, the average number of irregular arrivals into the whole EU in the years 2009-2013.

European leaders could thus demonstrate to their electorates that it is possible to control external sea borders without undermining the refugee convention or treating those who arrive badly to deter new arrivals. European leaders should simultaneously push forward the global debate on orderly transfers of refugees through resettlement. The only way to do so is to lead by example, building up EU capacity for resettlement as well boosting the UNHCR’s capacity to do more. Coalitions of willing EU states should commit to resettle a significant number of vulnerable refugees each year.

In recent decades, resettlement has never reached more than 100,000 a year in the whole world, and of these the US took the lion’s share. Until now European states have not built up the bureaucratic machinery for large-scale resettlement. For this reason, pushing the EU to fully implement the resettlement provisions in the Aegean agreement (point 4) is vital and deserves to be an advocacy priority for human rights NGOs and refugee rights defenders.

In the face of rising anti-refugee sentiment across the world, it will take a strong coalition of countries to protect the refugee convention. Such a coalition requires governments who are able to win elections on the platform that a humane asylum policy and effective border control can be combined and can even reinforce each other. Such a policy needs to be based on core principles: no-push backs; no-Nauru; discouraging irregular passage through fast readmission and fast asylum processes; expansion of resettlement of refugees; and serious financial help to host countries elsewhere. If this happens lessons from the Aegean agreement with Turkey – the only plan in recent years that dramatically reduced the numbers of people arriving without changing EU refugee law – might help develop a blueprint for protecting refugee rights in an age of anxiety. The stakes – for Europe and for the UN Refugee Convention – could not be higher.  

 

 

Filed under: Asylum,Europe,Refugees — Gerald @ 8:40 am
12 November 2016

lueger

 

Thinking a lot recently about Karl Lueger, a successful politician in Vienna, one hundred and a few years ago. Weekend reading: an excellent book by Brigitte Haman, “Hitler’s Vienna”. On the crazy and dangerous ideas and political models emerging in the middle of a cosmopolitan metropolis in a complacent era.

What seems new in our politics today is not really new at all, facebok, twitter or other social media notwithstanding. Nor is there anything new in “post-truth” politics – when was “truth” important to nationalists, colonialists, decolonisers, or communists in the 20th century? If you do not have Haman’s book ready, have a look at the below description of one of the most respected democratic politicians in the late Habsburg empire. Then replace “Jew” with “Muslim” or “foreigner” in the text below, and you have a not so secret formula, which looks set to become the inspiration for political leaders in much of what was until yesterday the West … until it stops working.

It worked then, for Karl Lueger. He won elections. He managed to run a decent city administration. He also built a lot. His statue is still up in Vienna. But the consequences of this style of politics in the short and medium term were disastrous for his city, country and continent.

As will be the consequences this time, if this style of thinking, of politics without constraints, is not contained. Or, better put: defeated in elections. This is the only response that matters.

“Karl Lueger was an outstanding example of this new kind of politician: he attempted to get a feeling for the mood of “the people”; he like to hold speeches in dialect, took account of the intellectual level of his listeners, made complex issues simple and tried to entertain his public with humorous remarks.

He was especially successful when he attacked the supposed enemies of his listeners. He stoked antipathy to politicians with different points of view as well as national and religious minorities. His polemical attacks, sometimes extremely drastically formulated, were not directed towards reason but consciously appealed to emotions and instincts. Thus he understood how to use rousing speeches to win over the Viennese population to his cause, consciously invoking stereotypical images of alleged enemies and, in particular, making use of anti-Semitic prejudice. Every set back was reduced to a simple formula: “The Jews are to blame” and stirred up hatred with statements such as: “ We will prevent the oppression of Christians and a new Palestine replacing the ancient Austrian empire of Christians”.

In the process he activated the traditional Catholic anti-Semitism directed against “the people who killed God”. He combined it with anti-liberal and anti-capitalist elements and thus addressed the widespread prejudice against “money and stock market Jews”, “press Jews”, “ink Jews”, i.e. Jewish intellectuals and businessmen. Under his leadership the Christian Socialists regarded their main political task as the reduction of the “rapidly growing power of the Jews” and the reversal of their emancipation which had only taken place in 1867.”

http://en.luegerplatz.com/lueger.html

The book itself, with its excellent analysis of the impact of Lueger, Schönerer, and many of the thinkers at the time: in English – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/871498.Hitler_s_Vienna

Filed under: Austria,Decline,Europe,Human rights — Gerald @ 2:28 pm
7 October 2016

Sometimes a speech really needs no further comment. Here is Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, speaking on 15 March 2016, the Hungarian National day. All I did is to highlight  some passages in old. For the rest, please trust me: this is worth reading.

 

15 March 2015, Budapest – speech on the occasion of Hungary’s national holiday

“Salutations to you, Hungarian freedom, on this the day you are born!”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Compatriots, Hungarians around the World,

With a cockade sewn by Júlia Szendrey pinned to his chest, a volume of poems in his pocket, and the still thrilling experience of the Revolution in his head, these are the words with which the poet Sándor Petőfi welcomed the fifteenth of March in his journal. Salutations to you, Hungarian freedom, on this the day you are born! And today also, one hundred and sixty-eight years later, it is with unfettered joy, the optimism of early spring, high hopes and an elevated spirit that across the Carpathian Basin we celebrate – from Beregszász to Szabadka, from Rimaszombat to Kézdivásárhely: every Hungarian with one heart, one soul and one will.

Just as then in the decisive battles of the Freedom Fight, now also Hungarian hearts are cheered by the fact that we have with us a Polish legion. I welcome the spirited successors of General Bem: we  welcome the sons of the Polish nation. As always throughout our shared thousand-year history, now, too, we are standing by you in the battle you are fighting for your country’s freedom and independence. We are with you, and we send this message to Brussels: more respect to the Polish people, more respect to Poland! Greetings to you. It is a sign of the shared fate of Poland and Hungary that another glorious revolution of ours – that of 1956 – was born between the Bem Statue and Kossuth tér in Budapest. It rose up with the unstoppable force of our glorious ancestors, and by the evening it had dragged the Soviet generalissimo out of his boots.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

By nature, Hungarians stand up for what is right when the need arises. What is more, they fight for it if needs be, but do not seek out trouble for its own sake. They know that they can often achieve more through patience than through sabre-rattling. This is why those like us are rarely given to revolutions. We have only gone down that path twice in one hundred and seventy years. When we did follow that path, we had reason to do so: we felt that our lungs would burst if we could not breathe in freedom. We threw ourselves into it, and once we had started a revolution, we did so in style. Modern European history has preserved both Hungarian revolutions among the glorious memories of the world: two blazing stars, two national uprisings bursting forth in 1848 and 1956 from Hungarian aspirations and Hungarian interests. Glory to the heroes, honour to the brave. Chroniclers have also recorded the revolution of 1918–19, but the memories of that period are not preserved on the pages of glory; indeed, not only are those memories written on different pages, but they appear in a different volume altogether. The 1918–19 revolution can be found in the volume devoted to Bolshevik anti-Hungarian subversions launched in the service of foreign interests and foreign ambitions; it features under the heading “appalling examples of intellectual and political degeneracy”. Yes, we Hungarians have two revolutionary traditions: one leads from 1848, through 1956 and the fall of communism, all the way to the Fundamental Law and the current constitutional order; the bloodline of the other tradition leads from Jacobin European ancestors, through 1919, to communism after World War II and the Soviet era in Hungary. Life in Hungary today is a creation of the spiritual heirs and offspring of the ’48 and ’56 revolutions. Today, as then, the heartbeat of this revolutionary tradition moves and guides the nation’s political, economic and spiritual life: equality before the law, responsible government, a national bank, the sharing of burdens, respect for human dignity and the unification of the nation. Today, as then, the ideals of ’48 and ’56 are the pulse driving the life force of the nation, and the intellectual and spiritual blood flow of the Hungarian people. Let us give thanks that this may be so, let us give thanks that finally the Lord of History has led us onto this path. Soli Deo gloria!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Not even the uplifting mood of a celebration day can let us forget that the tradition of 1919, too, is still with us – though fortunately its pulse is just a faint flicker. Yet at times it can make quite a noise. But without a host animal, its days are numbered. It is in need of another delivery of aid from abroad in the form of a major intellectual and political infusion; unless it receives this, then after its leaves and branches have withered, its roots will also dry up in the Hungarian motherland’s soil, which is hostile to internationalism. And this is all well and good.

 

A decent person who raises their children and works hard to build the course of their life does not usually end up as a revolutionary. The right-thinking person who stands on their own two feet and has control over their future knows that upheavals and the sudden upending of the ordinary course of life rarely ends well. The person of goodwill who seeks a life of serene and peaceful progress knows that trying to take two steps at once leads to you tripping over your own legs, and instead of moving forward, you will land flat on your face. And yet these right-thinking people of goodwill, these upstanding citizens of Pest instantly rallied to the call of our revolutions, marching at the front, right behind the university students. They formed the backbone of the revolutions and freedom fights, and they were to pay with their own blood for the honour of the Hungarian people. Every revolution is like the people who make it. On the committee which oversaw order during the 15 March revolution, in the shadow of the colossal figures of Petőfi and Vasvári, we find the furrier Máté Gyurkovics, and the button-maker György Molnár. Our revolutions were led by respectable citizens, military officers, lawyers, writers, doctors, engineers, honest tradespeople, farmers and workers with a sense of national duty: Hungarians who embodied the nation’s best aspects, our homeland’s very best. Hungarian revolutionaries are not warriors for hare-brained ideologies, deranged utopias or demented, unsolicited plans for world happiness; in Pest you find no traces of the illusory visions of quack philosophers or the raging resentment of failed intellectuals. The revolutionaries of 1848 did not want to salvage stones from the ruins of absolutist oppression in order to build a temple to yet another tyranny; therefore the Hungarian revolution’s songs were not written in honour of the steel blade of the guillotine or the rope of the gallows. Our songs are not sung by lynch mobs or execution-thirsty crowds; the Pest revolution is not a hymn to chaos, revenge, or butchery. The 1848 Revolution is a solemn and dignified moment in our history, when the wounds of the glorious Hungarian nation opened once again. Springing from constitutional roots, it demanded the granting and return of the rights seized from and denied to the nation. It is exhilarating, but sober; ecstatic but practical; glorious, but temperate. It is Hungarian to the core.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Three weeks before his death in battle, in his last letter to János Arany, Sándor Petőfi asked the following question: “So what are you going to do?” When we, his modern descendants, read this, it is as if he is asking us the same question. So what are you going to do? How will you make use of your inheritance? Are the Hungarian people still worthy of their ancestors’ reputation? Do you know the law of the Hungarians of old – that whatever you do should not only be measured by its utility, but also by universal standards? This is because your deeds must pass the test not only here, but also in eternity.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We have our inheritance, the Hungarian people still exist, Buda still stands, we are who we were, and we shall be who we are. Our reputation travels far and wide; clever people and intelligent peoples acknowledge the Hungarians. We adhere to the ancient law, and also measure our deeds by universal standards. We teach our children that their horizon should be eternity. Whether we shall succeed, whether finally we see the building of a homeland which is free, independent, worthy and respected the world over – one which was raised high by our forebears from 1848, and for which they sacrificed their lives – we cannot yet know. We do know, however, that the current European constellation is an unstable one, and so we have some testing times ahead. The times in which we live press us with this question, which is like a hussar’s sabre held to our chest: “Shall we live in slavery or in freedom?” The destiny of the Hungarians has become intertwined with that of Europe’s nations, and has grown to be so much a part of the union that today not a single people – including the Hungarian people – can be free if Europe is not free. And today Europe is as fragile, weak and sickly as a flower being eaten away by a hidden worm. Today, one hundred and sixty-eight years after the great freedom fights of its peoples, Europe – our common home – is not free.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Europe is not free, because freedom begins with speaking the truth. In Europe today it is forbidden to speak the truth. A muzzle is a muzzle – even if it is made of silk. It is forbidden to say that today we are not witnessing the arrival of refugees, but a Europe being threatened by mass migration. It is forbidden to say that tens of millions are ready to set out in our direction. It is forbidden to say that immigration brings crime and terrorism to our countries. It is forbidden to say that the masses of people coming from different civilisations pose a threat to our way of life, our culture, our customs, and our Christian traditions. It is forbidden to say that, instead of integrating, those who arrived here earlier have built a world of their own, with their own laws and ideals, which is forcing apart the thousand-year-old structure of Europe. It is forbidden to say that this is not accidental and not a chain of unintentional consequences, but a planned, orchestrated campaign, a mass of people directed towards us. It is forbidden to say that in Brussels they are constructing schemes to transport foreigners here as quickly as possible and to settle them here among us. It is forbidden to say that the purpose of settling these people here is to redraw the religious and cultural map of Europe and to reconfigure its ethnic foundations, thereby eliminating nation states, which are the last obstacle to the international movement. It is forbidden to say that Brussels is stealthily devouring ever more slices of our national sovereignty, and that in Brussels today many are working on a plan for a United States of Europe, for which no one has ever given authorisation.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Today’s enemies of freedom are cut from a different cloth than the royal and imperial rulers of old, or those who ran the Soviet system; they use a different set of tools to force us into submission. Today they do not imprison us, they do not transport us to camps, and they do not send in tanks to occupy countries loyal to freedom. Today the international media’s artillery bombardments, denunciations, threats and blackmail are enough – or rather have been enough so far. The peoples of Europe are slowly awakening, they are regrouping, and will soon regain ground. Europe’s beams laid on the suppression of truth are creaking and cracking. The peoples of Europe may have finally understood that their future is at stake: not only are their prosperity, their comfort and their jobs at stake, but their very security and the peaceful order of their lives are in danger. The peoples of Europe, who have been slumbering in abundance and prosperity, have finally understood that the principles of life upon which we built Europe are in mortal danger. Europe is a community of Christian, free and independent nations; it is the equality of men and women, fair competition and solidarity, pride and humility, justice and mercy.

 

This danger is not now threatening us as wars and natural disasters do, which take the ground from under our feet in an instant. Mass migration is like a slow and steady current of water which washes away the shore. It appears in the guise of humanitarian action, but its true nature is the occupation of territory; and their gain in territory is our loss of territory. Hordes of implacable human rights warriors feel an unquenchable desire to lecture and accuse us. It is claimed that we are xenophobic and hostile, but the truth is that the history of our nation is also one of inclusion and the intertwining of cultures. Those who have sought to come here as new family members, as allies or as displaced persons fearing for their lives have been let in to make a new home for themselves. But those who have come here with the intention of changing our country and shaping our nation in their own image, those who have come with violence and against our will, have always been met with resistance.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

At first, they are only talking about a few hundred, a thousand or two thousand relocated people. But not a single responsible European leader would dare to swear under oath that this couple of thousand will not eventually increase to tens or hundreds of thousands. If we want to stop this mass migration, we must first of all curb Brussels. The main danger to Europe’s future does not come from those who want to come here, but from Brussels’ fanatics of internationalism. We cannot allow Brussels to place itself above the law. We shall not allow it to force upon us the bitter fruit of its cosmopolitan immigration policy. We shall not import to Hungary crime, terrorism, homophobia and synagogue-burning anti-Semitism. There shall be no urban districts beyond the reach of the law, there shall be no mass disorder or immigrant riots here, and there shall be no gangs hunting down our women and daughters. We shall not allow others to tell us whom we can let into our home and country, whom we will live alongside, and whom we will share our country with. We know how these things go. First we allow them to tell us whom we must take in, then they force us to serve foreigners in our country. In the end we find ourselves being told to pack up and leave our own land. Therefore we reject the forced resettlement scheme, and we shall tolerate neither blackmail, nor threats.

The time has come to ring the warning bell. The time has come for opposition and resistance. The time has come to gather allies to us. The time has come to raise the flag of proud nations. The time has come to prevent the destruction of Europe, and to save the future of Europe. To this end, regardless of party affiliation, we call on every citizen of Hungary to unite, and we call on every European nation to unite. The leaders and citizens of Europe must no longer live in two separate worlds. We must restore the unity of Europe. We the peoples of Europe cannot be free individually if we are not free together. If we unite our forces, we shall succeed; if we pull in different directions, we shall fail. Together we are strength, disunited we are weakness. Either together, or not at all – today this is the law.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In 1848 it was written in the book of fate that nothing could be done against the Habsburg Empire. If then we had resigned ourselves to that outcome, our fate would have been sealed and the German sea would have swallowed up the Hungarians. In 1956 it was written in the book of fate that we were to remain an occupied and sovietised country until patriotism was extinguished in the very last Hungarian. If then we had resigned ourselves to that outcome, our fate would have been sealed, and the Soviet sea would have swallowed up the Hungarians. Today it is written in the book of fate that hidden, faceless world powers will eliminate everything that is unique, autonomous, age-old and national. They will blend cultures, religions and populations, until our many-faceted and proud Europe will finally become bloodless and docile. And if we resign ourselves to this outcome, our fate will be sealed, and we will be swallowed up in the enormous belly of the United States of Europe. The task which awaits the Hungarian people, the nations of Central Europe and the other European nations which have not yet lost all common sense is to defeat, rewrite and transform the fate intended for us. We Hungarians and Poles know how to do this. We have been taught that only if you are brave enough do you look danger in the face. We must therefore drag the ancient virtue of courage out from under the silt of oblivion. First of all we must put steel in our spines, and we must clearly answer the foremost, the single most important question determining our fate with a voice so loud so that it can be heard far and wide. The question upon which the future of Europe stands or falls is this: “Shall we live in slavery or in freedom?” That is the question – give your answer!

 

Go for it Hungary, go for it Hungarians!

 

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gerald @ 5:14 pm
27 September 2016
Forschung in Lesbos - hier im Rathaus

Forschung in Lesbos – hier im Rathaus

Ein Artikel in der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung vom 27 September 2016 (Brüssel: Vertrag mit Türkei bewährt sich, FAZ, Seite 2, Dienstag) zeigt zweierlei: die Europäische Kommission erkennt nicht, was notwendig ist, um das EU-Türkei Abkommen umzusetzen. Sie versäumt es, Politiker und die Öffentlichkeit aufzurütteln. Stattdessen verschleiert sie Probleme. Das ist unverantwortlich und gefährlich. Wenn nichts passiert, könnte das Abkommen in den nächsten Wochen in sich zusammenbrechen. In diesem kurzen Überblick stehen die Aussagen der Kommission, die in dem Artikel zitiert werden, den tatsächlichen Entwicklungen gegenüber. Ein aufmerksamer Leser kann von selbst erkennen, dass hier vieles nicht zusammenpasst:

Die Zahl der Flüchtlinge, die in der Ägäis ankommen

Der Artikel beginnt optimistisch:

„Das vor sechs Monaten zwischen der EU und der Türkei vereinbarte Flüchtlingsabkommen scheint sich insgesamt zu bewähren. Zu dieser positiven Einschätzung ist die Europäische Kommission in einer Bilanz gelangt. ‚Ich habe keine großen Befürchtungen, dass das Abkommen zwischen der EU und der Türkei scheitert. Es steht für beide Seiten zu viel auf dem Spiel’, sagte ein mit dem Dossier betrauter Beamter am Montag.“

Dafür bietet der ungenannte Beamte folgende Argumente:

„Die Zahl der über die Ägäis aus der Türkei auf die griechischen Inseln gelangenden Flüchtlinge sei mit zuletzt durchschnittlich hundert am Tag auf einem ‚historisch niedrigen Stand’.“

Ankunft von Flüchtlingen aus der Türkei auf griechischen Inseln (2016)[1]

Datum Ankommende Flüchtlinge
Täglicher Durchschnitt Januar 1,932
Täglicher Durchschnitt Februar 1,904
Täglicher Durchschnitt 1-20 März 1,148
Täglicher Durchschnitt 21-31 März 333
Täglicher Durchschnitt April 121
Täglicher Durchschnitt Mai 55
Täglicher Durchschnitt Juni 51
Täglicher Durchschnitt Juli 59
Täglicher Durchschnitt August 111

 

Die Zahl der ankommenden Flüchtlinge lag im August bei durchschnittlich 111 am Tag. Das sind doppelt so viel wie im Mai oder Juni. Dieser Trend ist besorgniserregend. Es ist auch kein „historisch niedriger Stand“: auf ein Jahr umgelegt bedeuten 111 Ankommende am Tag insgesamt etwa 40,000 Ankommende im Jahr.

Um das einzuordnen hilft es, sich die Gesamtzahl ALLER, die die EU Außengrenzen in den letzten Jahren überquert haben, vor Augen zu halten: das waren von 2009 bis 2013 jährlich durchschnittlich 110,000 an ALLEN EU Außengrenzen. 40,000 im Jahr nur in der Ägäis wären eine historisch hohe Zahl, die nur verglichen mit dem Ausnahmejahr 2015 (als über 800,000 ankamen) „niedrig“ erscheinen mag. Dass der negative Trend der letzten Wochen nicht einmal erwähnt wird ist auch merkwürdig.

 

Die Zahl jener, die von den Inseln in die Türkei zurückgeschickt werden

„Positiv wird in der Kommission herausgestellt, dass seit Inkrafttreten des Abkommens von den griechischen Inseln bis zum Montag insgesamt 578 Flüchtlinge in die Türkei zurückgeschickt worden seien. Allein am Montag brachte ein Schiff 70 Migranten von der Insel Lesbos in die Türkei Dikili zurück.“

Das bedeutet, dass seit Inkrafttreten des Abkommens im Durchschnitt pro Monat weniger als 100 Flüchtlinge in die Türkei zurückgeschickt wurden – weniger als derzeit täglich auf den Inseln ankommen.

Was die Kommission nicht erklärt, ist erneut der tatsächliche Trend. Der sieht nämlich so aus: auch im September wurden insgesamt nur 90 Leute zurückgebracht. Im August waren es 16, im Juli niemand, im Juni 21 und im Mai 55. Die allermeisten wurden zu Beginn des Abkommens, im April (386), zurückgebracht. In der ersten Oktoberwoche ist noch einmal ein Transfer von 75 Menschen geplant. Doch danach ist es wieder unklar aus wie es weitergeht. Von einer Trendwende kann derzeit keine Rede sein.

Transfer von Migranten aus Griechenland in die Türkei bis 27 September 2016[2]

Date Transfers
4 April 202
8 April 123
26 April 49
27 April 12
18 May 4
20 May 51
8 June 8
9 June 13
16 June 6
17 August 8
18 August 6
25 August 2
7 September 5
8 September 13
23 September 7
26 September 70
Total 579
   

 

Die Kommission erklärt übrigens selbst, warum es auch in den nächsten Monaten nur sehr wenige Rückführungen geben wird:

„Derzeit gibt es mit jeweils drei Mitgliedern besetzte Berufungsgremien, die derzeit monatlich nur 200 Fälle zum Abschluss bringen können Zur Bewältigung dieses ‚Flaschenhalses’ müssten die Verfahren gestrafft, mehr Personal müsse eingestellt werden. Ziel sei es, die Dauer des Prüfverfahrens auf zwei bis drei Wochen zu begrenzen.”

Das bedeutet: egal wie viele Fälle die Asylbehörde in erster Instanz derzeit bearbeitet (und es sind nicht viele – siehe weiter unten), die erwartete Zahl derjenigen, die von der zweiten Instanz monatlich „zum Abschluss“ gebracht wird, liegt bei „nur 200“ … und das bedeutet noch nicht, dass alle 200 auch in die Türkei zurückgebracht werden.

Derzeit gibt es noch keine Erfahrung mit den Berufungsgremien, aber selbst wenn ALLE 200 Fälle pro Monat in einem Rückführungsentscheid in die Türkei enden, wären das weniger als derzeit in ZWEI TAGEN auf die Inseln kommen.

Die kleine griechische Asylbehörde ist der Aufgabe auf den Inseln nicht gewachsen.

„In der EU-Behörde wird zudem erwartet, dass auch die Zahl der ‚Rückführungen’ von Flüchtlingen aus Griechenland in die Türkei in Kürze deutlich zunehmen wird. Inzwischen sei in Griechenland über die Zulässigkeit von rund 3500 Asylanträgen – davon gut 3000 von syrischen Flüchtlingen – entschieden worden. Dies entspricht der im März gegebenen Zusage, Asylanträge im Schnellverfahren zu prüfen.“

Doch selbst wenn 3,500 Anträge in sechs Monaten entschieden wurden, dann sind das weniger als 600 im Monat. Derzeit kommen PRO WOCHE mehr Flüchtlinge und Migranten auf den Inseln an.

Man kann es drehen wie man will: sechs Monate nach Inkrafttreten des Abkommens haben weder die erste Instanz der Asylbehörde, noch die Berufungskommissionen, noch die – immer noch dramatisch unterbesetzte – EASO Mission auch nur ansatzweise die Ressourcen, die notwendig wären zu verhindern, dass die Schere zwischen der Zahl der Ankommenden und der Zahl der in die Türkei zurückgeführten nicht weiter aufgeht.

Die letzte der zitierten Aussagen der Kommission wirkt vor diesem Hintergrund bemerkenswert:

„Günstig habe sich zuletzt die Versorgungslage für die Flüchtlinge entwickelt.“

Dass sich die „Versorgungslage“ auf den Inseln günstig entwickelt haben soll, nachdem das wichtigste Lager Moria auf Lesbos erst vor kurzem brannte, während die Differenz zwischen Bedarf und Resourcen immer grösser wird, und obwohl Proteste der Bevölkerung auf den Inseln immer mehr zunehmen, ist schwer zu glauben. Es widerspricht auch dem, was Journalisten und Menschenrechtsorganisationen von den Inseln berichten. Abgesehen davon ist jedem Laien klar was es bedeutet, wenn

  • sich heute doppelt so viele Menschen auf den Inseln befinden als Kapazitäten vorhanden sind, sie gut zu versorgen (UNHCR);
  • jeden Tag so viele Menschen auf den Inseln ankommen wie durchschnittlich im Monat in die Türkei gebracht werden;
  • der Trend zeigt, dass die Zahl der Ankommenden steigt, die Effizienz der Behörden aber seit Monaten stagniert.

All das wirft die Frage auf: Wie kann eine Organisation, die bestehende Probleme und alarmierende Trends nicht wahrnimmt, diese Probleme lösen? Und was macht die Europäische Kommission, wenn in wenigen Wochen die griechischen Behörden das Handtuch werfen müssen und tausende von den Inseln wegbringen, und damit den Schlepper in der Türkei signalisieren, dass das ganze Abkommen einzustürzen beginnt?

 

Kapazität und Auslastung in den Lagern auf den griechischen Inseln, 13. September 2016[3]

 

Island Kapazität Auslastung
Lesvos 3,500 5,660
Chios 1,100 3,598
Kos 1,000 1,540
Samos 850 1,425
Leros 1,000 702
Rhodes 136
Karpathos 71
Kalymnos 24
Megisti 14
Total 7,450 13,171

 

 PS: Was tatsächlich – schnell – passieren müsste hat ESI erst vor kurzem in diesem Papier beschrieben: Background paper: On solid ground? Eleven facts about the EU-Turkey Agreement (12 September 2016)

Wir haben unsere Vorschläge auch in vielen Gesprächen, in internationalen Medien oder bei Veranstaltungen in Den Haag, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Wien und Berlin erkläutert:

Flüchtlinge auf Lesbos

Flüchtlinge auf Lesbos

 

[1]             Source: UNHCR (Weekly report, 4 August 2016)

[2]             Source: European Commission

[3]             Source: UNHCR

Filed under: Asylum,Europe,Greece,Refugees — Gerald @ 11:32 pm

A few thoughts, written one year ago in autumn in the sunny garden of the Museum of Modern Art in Moscow, where I was then a visiting fellow.

The dark clouds of that moment – the sense of fragility of our institutions and norms and moral emotions – are very much more obvious today. Then was the moment of Willkommenskultur in Germany and Austria, a generous, emotional, fragile sense of possibility, that was real – perhaps my forebodings came from observing it from Russia, with sympathy and concern.

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27 September 2015 (Facebook)

(Sonntag, im Garten des Museums für Moderne Kunst in Moskau)

Wir sollte uns keinen Illusionen hingeben.

Das Recht auf Asyl – all die Konventionen, auf die wir uns heute noch berufen können, in Kommentaren oder vor Gerichten – verschwindet in dem Moment, in dem Mehrheiten das wollen. Oder in dem die Minderheiten, die das wollen strategischer vorgehen als die Verteidiger der Menschenrechte.

Das hat Orban gerade wieder gezeigt, unbestraft; seine “Asylverfahren” an der Grenze sind eine Farce, doch seine Zustimmung steigt.

Das zeigen uns seit Jahren andere Mitglieder des Europarates. Azerbaijan war Vorsitzender des Europarates, verhaftete alle Menschenrechtsaktivisten … wo war die Reaktion? (jenseits der Menschenrechtsorganisationen, die das Regime einfach ignoriert). Wo war der Europäische Menschenrechtsgerichtshof? Abgemeldet, vom Regime ignoriert, vollkommen ungestraft. Heute, wo wir ihn brauchen, ist der Europarat eine unglaubwürdige Institution. Wir haben diese Entwicklung ignoriert, weil viele dachten, das betrifft nur Autokraten im fernen Osten Europas. Das war ein großer Fehler. Einer von vielen der die Menschenrechte in Europa in Gefahr bringt.

Jede, auch die grundlegendste, Menschenrechtsnorm, ist ständig in Gefahr sich im Nichts aufzulösen, wenn der Rückhalt schwindet. (Die Folter wurde in Russland Anfang der 19 Jahrhunderts von einem russischen Zaren abgeschafft; wir wissen was später passierte …).

Orban weiß das: er hat das Ende des Kommunismus, mit allen seinen Normen, erlebt. Er weiß, dass alles Menschliche vergänglich ist. Nun erwartet er, dass dies auch für das europäische Bekenntnis zu Asyl gilt, wenn er nur die Angst vor Muslimen instrumentalisieren kann.

Wenn die Briten über einen Austritt aus dem Menschenrechtsgerichtshof laut nachdenken, ja, eine Regierungspartei damit Wahlkampf macht, und gewinnt, warum dann nicht Ungarn? Warum nicht Österreich, unter einem Bundeskanzler Strache? Was bleibt dann? Wenn mehr Regierungen wie Orban denken, wer verteidigt dann “europäische” Standards? Diese werden dann einfach umdefiniert. Darauf setzt er. Daran arbeitet er.

Diese Krise sieht er als eine große Gelegenheit. Und die, die nicht seiner Meinung sind – wie mächtig auch ihre Positionen, ob nun Bundeskanzlerin in Berlin oder Präsident der Kommission in Brüssel – setzen ihm derzeit nichts entgegen: keine Strategie, nur Hilflosigkeit. Oder Ärger. Das aber stört ihn nicht; im Gegenteil.

Die Situation ist brandgefährlich. Das “Ende der Scham”, der Moment in dem Menschenrechte grundsätzlich in Frage gestellt werden, sinnentleert werden, umdefiniert werden, betrifft längst nicht nur Azerbaijan oder Russland.

Das Fundament auf dem unsere Grundrechte stehen kann zerbrechen. Das ist schon oft geschehen in der europäischen Geschichte. Darum geht es in diesem Ringen heute.

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Journal of Democracy, Gerald Knaus, “Europe and Azerbaijan: The End of Shame” (July 2015)

Filed under: Council of Europe,Human rights,Russia — Gerald @ 12:53 pm
20 September 2016

“Totales Misstrauen”

Interview Gerald Knaus für Der Spiegel

Das Interview ist hier: Spiegel Spezial “Brennpunkt Türkei” – 1/2016

Ausschnitt:

Spiegel: Die Türkei ist extrem enttäuscht darüber, dass kein europäischer Spitzenpolitiker das Land nach dem Putschversuch Mitte Juli besucht hat.  Zurecht?

Knaus: Ja. Wenn der deutsche oder der französische oder der italienische Außenminister, am besten alle drei gemeinsam, in den Tagen nach dem Putsch gekommen wären, das Parlament besucht hätten, ins Spital gegangen wären, etwa den türkischen Botschafter in Deutschland, Avni Karslıoğlu, der ja von den Putschisten verletzt wurde, besucht hätten – dann wäre das ein wichtiges Signal der Unterstützung für die Demokratie gewesen. Dann wären auch Ratschläge, bei der Bewältigung der Putschfolgen nicht über das Ziel hinauszuschießen, heute glaubwürdiger. Das Misstrauen der Türkei, das es schon nach der schwachen europäischen Reaktion auf den Militärputsch in Ägypten gab, hat sich durch die Abwesenheit von hochrangigen Besuchern aus Europa noch verstärkt. Und viele Türken in allen politischen Lagern vermuten, das Ausland habe entweder auf den Erfolg der Putschisten gehofft, oder sie vielleicht sogar unterstützt. Da dies bei Putschen in der Vergangenheit – 1960, 1980 – tatsächlich der Fall war, fallen solche Theorien in der Türkei auf fruchtbaren Boden.

SPIEGEL: Was sollte Europa jetzt tun?

Knaus: Die EU sollte unbedingt an der Position festhalten, dass eine rechtsstaatliche Türkei ein sehr wichtiger Partner wäre. Sie sollte aber auch klare rote Linie ziehen die für alle Beitrittskandidaten gelten – das hat Brüssel bei der Todesstrafe gemacht, und es sollte auch für systematische Folter gelten, die man in keinem Europaratsmitglied tolerieren darf. Wir sollten nicht sagen, es ist hoffnungslos, wir geben auf, oder uns gar der Illusion hingeben, man könnte a la Trump, auf dem Balkan eine Mauer bauen und hinter der fänden in der Türkei dann Dinge statt, um die man sich nicht kümmern müsste. Gleichzeitig kann man den Beitrittsprozess, so wie er jetzt strukturiert ist, auch nicht einfach weiterführen ohne Änderungen. Verhandlungskapitel öffnen, ohne dass irgendetwas passiert, nährt nur Zynismus, in der EU und in der Türkei.  Die EU müsste den Zustand der Justiz, und konkrete Prozessbeobachtungen, in das Zentrum ihrer Arbeit stellen. Denn was die Türkei am meisten braucht, ist ein Ausweg aus einer Welt des totalen Misstrauens, wo jeder immer nur einen Schritt vom Gefängnis entfernt ist.

SPIEGEL: Der österreichische Bundeskanzler hat den Abbruch der Beitrittsverhandlungen gefordert. War das ein Fehler?

Knaus: In diesem Moment auf jeden Fall. Erstens gibt es dafür in der EU keine Unterstützung, aus vielen guten Gründen. Man zweitens sollte man den Menschen in der Türkei, die sich weiterhin für Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Menschenrechte einsetzen, zeigen, dass die EU nach wie vor daran interessiert ist was dort passiert.

SPIEGEL: Kann das Flüchtlingsabkommen zwischen EU und Türkei angesichts der politischen Krise noch aufrechterhalten werden?

Knaus: Es gibt in Ankara weiterhin den Willen, daran festzuhalten, allerdings ist es schwieriger geworden, für beide Seiten. In der Türkei fragt man sich, wie die EU in dieser Situation eine Veränderung des Antiterrorgesetzes fordern kann. Und in der EU fragt man sich, wie man in dieser Situation die Visa-Freiheit einführen kann. Das wurde leider zu einer Frage der Würde stilisiert, als ob die EU ihre Werte verraten würde, wenn die Türkei nur 70 von 72 Forderungen erfüllt, die die EU am Beginn der Verhandlungen aufstellte. Es geht hier um Verhandlungen, wo beide Seiten Interessen haben. Als Serbien oder  Mazedonien Visafreiheit erhielten stellte die EU nur 45 Bedingungen. Vor allem aber: wem würde es nützen, wenn man jetzt die Visa-Liberalisierung vom Tisch nähme, dann die Türkei das Rücknahmeabkommen aufkündigt und dann das Flüchtlingsabkommen scheitert? Würde das der EU und ihrem Einfluss in der Türkei helfen, oder Menschenrechtsaktivisten dort? Was bedeutet es für Griechenland und Bulgarien? Bei einem Scheitern verlieren alle. Das ist keine kluge Politik.

SPIEGEL: Erdoğan hat mehrmals damit gedroht, das Flüchtlingsabkommen platzen zu lassen, falls die Visa-Freiheit nicht bis Oktober kommt. Wie glaubhaft ist diese Drohung?

Knaus: Das Problem ist, dass in der EU missverstanden wird, was wir von der Türkei im Gegenzug für die Visaliberalisierung wirklich verlangen sollten. Damit das Flüchtlingsabkommen funktioniert, muss die Türkei zu einem nachweisbar sicheren Drittstaat werden für all jene, die jetzt auf den griechischen Inseln festsitzen. Wir brauchen nicht nur die erklärte Bereitschaft der Türkei, jene zurückzunehmen, die die Griechen schicken. Ankara muss auch klarstellen, dass dort, wo diese Flüchtlinge hingebracht werden, glaubwürdige Asylprozesse mit qualifizierten Asylbeamten, mit Übersetzern und mit transparenten Entscheiden und fairen Bedingungen existieren. Wenn das nicht klappt, wird Griechenland nie einen Asylantragsteller zurückschicken können. Dann verwandelt sich das Abkommen von selbst vom Merkel-Plan in einen Orbán-Plan, wo nur ein Element übrigbliebe, nämlich das unbegrenzte Festhalten von Flüchtlingen auf den griechischen Inseln. Das ginge aber höchstens noch ein paar Wochen gut. Man braucht Anstrengungen in der Türkei etwas aufzubauen, was auch in manchen EU-Mitgliedsländern nicht existiert, nämlich schnelle und glaubhafte Asylverfahren. Das muss sofort passieren. Man sollte der Türkei durchaus Bedingungen stellen, und diese mit der Visa-Liberalisierung verknüpfen, es müssten nur die richtigen sein.

SPIEGEL: Bislang wurden auch, anders als versprochen, so gut wie keine Flüchtlingen aus der Türkei nach Europa umgesiedelt. Warum nicht?

Knaus: Die EU und die Türkei sollten anerkennen, dass in den letzten Monaten die Zahl der Ankommenden in der Ägäis so stark zurückgegangen ist, dass man mit der freiwilligen Umsiedlung von Flüchtlingen jetzt beginnen müsste. Und dass die erste Phase, in der man das unselige Austauschprogramm hatte, wo für jeden zurückgeschickten Syrer ein Syrer aufgenommen werden sollte, beendet ist. Wenn man allerdings dazu übergehen will, eine größere Zahl von Flüchtlingen umzusiedeln, dann zeigt sich, dass die Verwaltungen auch in den bestorganisierten Ländern gar nicht drauf eingestellt sind. Auch nicht in der Türkei.  

SPIEGEL: Man müsste diese Verwaltungen also erst aufbauen?

Knaus: Genau. Wenn die EU 100 000 Leute oder mehr im nächsten Jahr aus der Türkei umsiedeln will, dann muss das jemand organisieren. Denn man muss die Identität der Leute feststellen, Sicherheitsüberprüfungen machen und glaubwürdig zeigen, dass man bereit ist, die Leute aufzunehmen. Wenn man diesen Apparat nicht aufbaut, dann zeigt man, dass dieses Versprechen nicht ernst gemeint ist. Dabei gibt ja sicherlich zehntausende Flüchtlinge allein in der Türkei, die als Verwandte von bereits in Europa lebenden Asylantragstellern oder Flüchtlingen eine enorme Motivation und auch das Recht haben, einen Weg zu ihren Angehörigen zu finden, der nicht über die Ägäis oder über Schlepper führt.

SPIEGEL: Die griechische Regierung sagt, Europa brauche in der Flüchtlingskrise einen Plan B. Wie könnte der aussehen?

Knaus: Es gibt ja bereits eine Art Plan B, der bei immer mehr europäischen Regierungen auf Sympathie stößt, der allerdings um vieles aufwendiger, unsicherer und teurer wäre als das bestehende Abkommen umzusetzen. Davor warnt auch UNHCR eindringlich. Es ist der alte Plan von Viktor Orbán: eine australische Lösung, die darauf setzt, dass Flüchtlinge die EU zwar erreichen können, aber dann dort festgehalten werden, ähnlich wie das Australien auf der Pazifik-Insel Nauru macht. Der österreichische Aussenminister hat in den vergangenen Wochen immer wieder davon gesprochen, dass man von der australischen Erfahrung lernen könne, er hat allerdings nicht gesagt, ob das dann noch mit der Flüchtlingskonvention in Einklang gebracht werden muss. Oder wo diese Insel ist.

SPIEGEL: Das wäre dann ganz Griechenland, inklusive des Festlands.

Knaus: Ja. Die EU würde darauf setzen, dass die Bedingungen in Griechenland so schlecht wären, dass die Leute aus eigenem Interesse in der Türkei oder in Afghanistan blieben. Um das zu verstärken, würden noch die Grenzen auf dem Balkan militarisiert. Statt der Türkei ist die EU dann von Mazedonien und Serbien abhängig. Diese Entwicklung wird eintreten, wenn man sich vom EU-Türkei-Plan verabschieden sollte. Die Belastungen wären nicht nur für Griechenland, sondern für ganz Europa immens und in ihren Konsequenzen unüberschaubar.

spiegel-spezial

Filed under: Refugees,Turkey,Visa — Gerald @ 12:09 pm
22 May 2016

In recent days German media reported on a dispute between Turkey and EU countries concerning the resettlement of Syrian refugees. Spiegel Online, ARD and others explained that Turkey proposed to the EU mainly “vulnerable cases” for resettlement, while hindering academics or Syrians with qualifications from leaving. The evidence is anecdotal, but it made headlines (It was also on German television last night.) In fact the story appears as a smokescreen for a real problem. And the crucial information missing in most of these reports is the number of people resettled from Turkey since the EU-Turkey agreement entered into force two months ago: 177.

The EU-Turkey agreement from March 2016 has a central promise: “In order to break the business model of the smugglers and to offer migrants an alternative to putting their lives at risk, the EU and Turkey today decided to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU.” And yet, it is impossible to “offer an alternative” by resettling less than 100 refugees a month.

A little history is useful. On 4 December sherpas of a Coalition of Willing EU member states met in Brussels to discuss a proposal by the European Commission which asked how a resettlement scheme might be “effectively designed”. It suggested that its aim should be:

“expedited resettlement scheme or humanitarian admission that does not take longer than 3-6 months from the submission of the resettlement proposal from UNHCR to the Member state authorities to the physical transfer of the person concerned.”

This made fast resettlement impossible. At the time ESI proposed to set up a system starting from the assumption that the EU was in fact interested in resettling significant numbers of people, since this was key to making the EU-Turkey agreement work:

“The challenge is to find a quick way to resettle Syrian refugees from Turkey to EU MS. The quickest way is to leave out all unnecessary intermediaries.”

We pointed to existing programs for lessons:

“When Germany resettled 20,000 Syrian refugees from countries neighbouring Syria as well as Egypt between 2013 and this year under its Humanitarian Resettlement Programme for Syrian refugees (HAP – Humanitäres Aufnahmeprogramm), it chose for the first contingent of 5,000 refugees the following criteria: “Firstly particularly vulnerable refugees, secondly refugees with a link to Germany, and thirdly refugees with special qualifications that could be useful for Syria’s reconstruction.”

That German programme was less ambitious than what is needed now in terms of numbers, but the criteria are interesting: and with any larger numbers resettled there should be no conflict between these criteria. An EU protocol on how to implement the 1:1 scheme from 27 April 2016 gave the following selection criteria:

“women and girls at risk; ƒ survivors of violence and/or torture; ƒ refugees with legal and/or physical protection needs; ƒ refugees with medical needs or disabilities; ƒ children and adolescents at risk; and/or ƒ Members of the nuclear family of a person legally resident in a Participating State”

In this light, where is the scandal that Spiegel Online suggests? Is the problem not rather that each refugee is inspected and bargained over, like cattle on a cattle market, which makes substantial resettlement impossible? The Commission complained in its most recent report that some EU member states pick whom they want to take from Greece, as in the case of unaccompanied minors (whom they do not want):

“In line with the Council Decisions on relocation, Member States should prioritise the relocation of unaccompanied minors arriving in the EU. Since 12 April, no unaccompanied minor has been relocated.”

Unfortunately, relocation has been a failure of process: instead of 66,000 people relocated from Greece, as foreseen, the total so far stands at 909, in a process that started in July 2015. Now resettlement risks becoming a failure of process too.

ESI recommended a daily target of 900 resettlements some months ago. For this, processes would have to be streamlined. Do refugees pose security threats? Are they vulnerable, or families with children? Do they have relatives in the EU? Whether they have specific qualifications should not even be a consideration.

For this reason the media reporting diverts attention from the real problem: the central promise of the EU-Turkey deal – “creating legal routes to the EU for refugees” – is not being kept. 177 resettlements is a shockingly low number for two months. The key policy question should be when/if the EU will announce that it is preparing to act in accordance with provision four of the agreement. This stated:

“Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU are ending or at least have been substantially and sustainably reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated. EU Member States will contribute on a voluntary basis to this scheme.”

The numbers crossing have fallen dramatically and have remained low. The EU and Turkey should therefore declare the 1:1 exchange phase to be over. And the EU should radically review and change its guidelines and practices for both resettlement and relocation.

An internal document adopted in April 2016, setting out the “Implementation of the EU-Turkey 1:1 scheme” refered to a “Fast-track Standard Operating Procedures”, which is everything but fast. Its design precludes the resettlement of tens of thousands of people within the foreseeable future. It is failure by design.

This puts reports on the “haggling over Syrian academics” in context. The real news is not that the EU and Turkey do not agree on who should be resettled, but that a resettlement process has been designed which makes serious resettlement almost impossible and which – with 177 people resettled in more than two months – has not actually begun yet.

Filed under: Refugees,Turkey — Gerald @ 2:04 pm
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