Wednesday, September 16, 2015
The outcome is in mild terms, rather embarrassing.
Some member states like Hungary are raising fences, refusing to allow the streams of the refugees arriving from Syria and Afghanistan enter.
Under a huge pressure, Germany and other countries are suspending the Schengen agreement, jeopardizing one of the greatest benefits that EU citizens receive with their country's membership.
Additionally states like Slovakia and Cyprus are willing to accept only Christians, as if humanitarian help is extended only to homo-religious people.
Nations mainly from the Eastern block but also Denmark and the UK, are refusing to accept the proposed by the EU Commission refugee quotas, on redistributing 120,000 people across the block.
As result, Germany recently has threatened the states which refuse the quotas, with sanctions. The Germans are annoyed-and rightly so- that they are expected to accept the bulk of the refugees.
So they are pointing out that since most of those countries also happen to be nations that receive large amounts of supplemental funding from European Union, these funds could be cut off if they continue to refuse quotas. (International Business Times).
This attitude only adds oil to the fire. The real issue is the huge differences of mentality, type of economy, culture and attitude towards migration among the European states.
While Germany is trying desperately to shake off the image of the "bad guy" in the continent and appear welcoming, open and friendly, other nations do not have the same aspirations.
Many former European colonial powers like France, are well used to multiculturalism and in fact they have based and modeled their economies around migration. Other countries like Sweden have been rich and open societies for a very long time and are organized, prepared to deal with the issue.
On the other hand, Eastern countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, are only recently advancing as economies and societies. They have been caught totally unprepared for such crisis and in fact, it is doubtful that they ever expected to find themselves as refugee destination.
Until not so many decades ago, it was them who were fleeing the clusters of oppressive communist regimes, to enter the wealthier Western Europe and America. One would have expected them to be more open and welcoming to refugees, as they have been in similar conditions in their recent history.
But they aren't. The governments of Prague and Budapest in particular are strongly opposing the EU Commission quotas, infuriating many EU officials and the governments of Western European nations.
Their excuse is that Islam is "not compatible with Europe's Christian values," or that they already have many Ukrainian "refugees". In reality the first argument is contradicting the EU's very values, a union that they were so keen to join for economic reasons; yet they have difficulty accepting certain obligations attached to it.
Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights – these values are embedded in the EU treaties, that they signed for. (Europa.eu) Respect for human rights and dignity, something that is extended to all humans, as Christian Europeans do not comprise the whole humanity.
Secondly, the Ukrainian's that flee to Eastern Europe are not necessarily "refugees" as they are allowed to work and do the jobs that the locals are turning down, for better paid ones in the Western EU states. They are simply economic migrants, as many of their nationals are in other richer European states.
Yet, their attitude is partially understandable. Migration into their countries is something new.
Many of the Western nations struggled to accept their first migrants back in the '50s. As the richer nations managed to deal with the issue, so will the new EU member states one day.
It is just that they were caught unprepared like most of the continent for something like this, plus they still see themselves and countries of emigrants and workers to the West.
Contrary to all the above, the states who oppose the quotas are partially right. The EU, Europe as a whole, the UN and the rich Western or Eastern nations, should have been more generous in helping countries like Turkey and Lebanon.
These nations have been hosting refugees in greater numbers and for a considerable amount of time. Europe has failed them, because if it played a more active role in the crisis since the beginning, now it would not have to face floods of refugees arriving on its doorstep. This "welcoming" attitude is too little too late.
It is clear that European leaders have failed us-the EU citizens, the refugees and their countries, as well as these nations who were until now dealing with the problem; with little help from the rest of the international community. We should have acted a long time ago.
Now since we are forced to deal with the problem, we must show solidarity firstly among ourselves and secondly towards the refugees.
We can not allow only a handful of countries in the Mediterranean to tackle the crisis on their own, nor Germany to take full responsibility and all of the refugees.
For once, let's show real unity and solidarity in our "union" and to the world that Europe can handle the leadership that sometimes is required from it. Instead of being an example of bigotry, we should act as one of compassion and global jurisdiction that inspires others to follow suit.