• Sophie Haaland Matláry

Who will take the blame? The refugee crisis 2020:

Published in Aftenposten on the 03.02.2020: https://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/debatt/i/wPQEKP/europas-hyklerske-loesning-paa-flyktningkrisen-2020-sophie-matlary

Whose fault is it that refugees are entering Europe? Is it Chancellor Merkel's fault, as she did not manage to negotiate a deal with Erdogan? Is it the President of Turkey, as he is pushing through his aspirations in Syria - by using threats against Europe? Or, is it the refugees themselves that are in the wrong, because they believe that life is better in the West?

On one hand, President Erdogan keeps frustrating us, as he has Europe on lockdown, and simply keeps forcing through his own ways - no one dares to stop him. His weapon is that of migrants, a weapon he uses until Europe starts listening and supporting his policies. On the other hand, in regards to Merkel and her policies - why has she designed a refugee policy since 2016, which is a policy failure, and does not work in reality? Was she unwise when she joined in on a horse trade - and gave away 6 billion €, European tax money that until now has not produced any clear results?

The refugee crisis in 2015 was a shock to Europe: no one knew how many people were coming, how to mass-process asylum applications, and who should be granted asylum. But the most difficult matter to deal with was perhaps how to decide how "humanitarian" we Europeans should treat migrants.

Europe, and especially Western European ethics and politics are based on a strong belief and trust in international law, human rights, the UN Refugee Convention, and the Dublin Convention; where everyone who comes to Europe is allowed to apply for asylum. Adhering to these beliefs, while at the same time saying that you want to protect yourself from migrants, by building border fences, is quite absurd.

What can we expect this time?

Over the next few weeks and months, many will say that we must close our outer borders so that no refugees will enter. No one from Turkey should be allowed to enter Greece, or upwards into Europe. And although it is a breach of the EU's Dublin Convention, all 27 member states will decide for themselves whether they want to open or close borders, as they did last time. In fact there is no real governing body that can force countries to accept refugees.

After studying the EU's refugee policies since 2015, I now believe that European self-isolation is just another temporary solution, a short-term idea such as the detention camps in Libya clearly are.

This brings me to an important point that needs to be analyzed: Are we aware, or do we care to be aware of the fact that Europe is being very hypocritical in constructing short-term solutions to a long-term problem?

Should one continue to pretend that one believes in solving the global refugee crisis from a humanist perspective, but still build fences against those who want to legally ask for asylum?

We promote our values ​​everywhere outside the West, but we would rather not have to apply these at home.

And as one diplomat friend from the Middle-East recently said: “These days Europe is paying the price for the continent's inability to resolve conflicts. The refugee crisis is just a picture of how weak Europe is at making decisions as a unit. One cannot be conflict-shy and at the same time principle-firm in international negotiations ».

Erdogan can't be tamed by Merkel, but the deal made in 2016 - where he was asked to stop and contain all refugees who came into Turkey, cannot be paid for by money as Merkel has thought. Every country has a maximum sustainable capacity when it comes to taking in refugees, and with 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, this capacity was reached a long time ago.

Where do we go now?

It is not easy to predict what will happen next, but one conceivable consequence of mass-immigration is that right-wing political parties in Europe will seize this opportunity to strengthen and position themselves. This might happen at the same time as the continent is trying to isolate itself more and more.

The paradox here is that the solutions found, and the necessary way forward, are in themselves opposites. What we desperately need now is competent and balanced politicians, who are neither too right nor left-wing politically, as well as them being the skilled diplomats - who effectively can handle their own native voters, and at the same time also negotiate with the defiant, eastern heads of state.

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