Thomas de Maizière

The idea, clothed in polite diplomatic wording, was brought to the attention of Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vučić by Angela Merkel herself. She has called for the head of the Serbian government to set up temporary reception centres for refugees and migrants along the Serbian Macedonian border. In addition, the Serbian government is obliged to grant refugees unrestricted and priority passage through Serbia to its border with Hungary.

These conditions alone raise serious questions of both a financial and a legal nature. Firstly, how can order be guaranteed along the migrant route, for which Brussels is virtually demanding the provision of an extraterritorial corridor?

And secondly, who is going to pay for the set-up and, most importantly, the running of these centres that need to be established for months or possibly years, and hold hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people? The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has already reported that, according to the estimates, more than 850,000 migrants will have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe by the end of 2015-2016.

Altogether, the UN expects nearly 400,000 refugees to arrive in Europe in 2015. In 2016, this number could reach “450,000 or more”, says a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. According to his spokesperson William Spindler, the prediction for this year is already close to being realised: more than 300,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean [1]. The UN also expects that the flow of refugees will continue at the same rate until the beginning of November at least.

Meanwhile, according to a new plan for the distribution of refugees and migrants to EU countries worked out by the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker [2], the total number that the EU governments are intending to take does not exceed 160,000 people. Six countries —Hungary, Greece, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark and Ireland— have also been given the right by the European Commission not to be involved in the refugee quota system. The last three countries stipulated for appropriate privileges back during discussions on amendments to the Treaty of Lisbon on EU reforms.

It is also highly revealing that at the same time as Juncker’s plan was unveiled, European Parliament deputies passed their own non-legislative resolution [3], where they expressed concern that the basic rights of refugees seeking asylum in the EU could be violated in a refugee reception centre in the reaching of a decision about their deportation, as well as concerns about the use of barbed wire and other deterrents.

Data suggests that such a coupling of a legal document and Junker’s roadmap is no accident. I am referring to the implementation of a single plan by the European Commission and EU deputies to resolve the refugee and migrant problem as conveniently for themselves as possible. Those arriving from Africa, the Near and Middle East and other regions are expected to be divided up into three categories. Members of the first (privileged) category will gain the right to settle in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and other major EU countries with a view to improving, on top of everything else, the workforce and cheap labour situation.

Members of the second refugee and migrant category can expect to be sent to European reception centres, from where some of them, after the appropriate checks and registration, will be able to resettle in second-tier countries in the EU hierarchy like Slovakia, the Czech Republic or Poland. And finally, the third category is made up of those who, for a variety of reasons, are not wanted by the architects of a ‘United Europe’, including active and potential terrorists and criminals. They will be sent beyond the EU’s borders, namely to Serbia and other countries situated on the EU’s outer perimeter (as well as to Ukraine). As a consequence, concern for their future will also rest on Belgrade, Kiev and other capitals in the region.

It is clear that in implementing the programme referred to above, representatives of the European Commission and the leaders of major EU countries will refer to universal human values, the task of fighting terrorists of the Islamic State, their responsibility for the fate of the world and so on. The bottom line, however, will be the same geopolitical chessboard and the pawns will not just be the refugees and migrants themselves, but the national governments of Central and Eastern Europe, not to mention the candidates for EU membership. Whatever happens, they will be assigned the part of the losers.

Strategic Culture Foundation (Russia)

[1Crossings of Mediterranean Sea exceed 300,000, including 200,000 to Greece”. The UN Refugee Agency, Melissa Fleming, UNHCR, August 28, 2015.

[2E.U. Nations Urged to Accept 160,000 Migrants”, James Kanter, The New York Times, September 9, 2015

[3Fundamental rights: MEPs highlight effects of deterring migrants and austerity”, European Parliament News, September 8, 2015