(KL) – The German minister of European affairs, Michael Roth, does not believe anymore in a European solution for the distribution of refugees on all member states of the European Union. “I have dropped all hope that we, as the European Union, can agree on a distribution mechanism”. But, “we work now for several months to establish a coalition of countries prepared to welcome refugees saved in the Mediterranean Sea.” Finding such a solution becomes more than urgent – after the scandal about the “Sea Watch 3” and the temporary arrest of Captain Carola Rackete, another German vessel, the “Aylan Kurdi” run by the NGO “Sea Eye” has been refused access to Italy and also to Malta.
The main problem is to find a safe harbor where the rescue vessels can bring the refugees saved on the Mediterranean Sea. “We cannot provide such a harbor in Germany”, said Michael Roth, “so we have to call on countries like Italy, Malta or others. We must be able to offer these countries a very fast distribution of these refugees on other European countries”. To support this proposal, Roth stated that it would be necessary “to create refugee centers in these countries, where the refugees are well treated and where their asylum procedures can be handled”. But even this practical approach requires a concertation on the European level – and everybody knows which countries have hindered so far all attempts to find European solutions to this European problem.
But it will also be necessary to intervene on the African continent, said the German minister for Development Aid, Gerd Müller. Not only he proposes a “new deal about maritime rescue operations”, but he wants to intervene directly in Libya, giving a precise account on what is awaiting refugees shipped back to the Libyan shores: “People in these terrible camps have the choice of dying in these camps by violence or hunger, or they die on the way back through the desert or they drown in the Mediterranean Sea.” So, the European Union and the United Nations must launch humanitarian operations in Libya to end the utmost criminal actions against refugees in Libya.
The European Union seems to have no means to convince the “Visegrad States” (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland) to change their attitude which consists in a pure refusal to accept any refugees in their countries. But as long as these countries continue to block any European solution to this situation, the European Union should seriously consider to freeze the European subventions for these countries who obviously regard Europe as a sort of supermarket where one buys only the things he likes. These countries, having enjoyed at many occasion the European solidarity (back in 1956, some 250 000 Hungarians fled their country and were welcomed mainly in other European countries), should now be invited to change their attitude – otherwise it would be useful to cut the European money transfers to these countries.
Creating a “coalition of the willing” would be an appropriate response to the current situation where rescue vessels cruise in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea, not knowing where to bring the refugees on land. The “Aylan Kurdi” transports some 65 refugees rescued on high sea and these people need to be taken care of.
Hopefully, this “coalition of the willing” can be formed rapidly, but then again, it is mandatory to find a European position for this problem. Those who refuse to participate in an operation of European solidarity should ask themselves what exactly they do within the European Union. If the only reason for the “Visegrad States” is to pocket subventions, then it is about time to think on a different European organization form – without these countries who condemn refugees to a cold death in the Mediterranean Sea or on the slave markets in North Africa. In any case, the inability of the European Union to find a common attitude for this problem, is a shame.