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Gabi Zimmer, chair of European United Left - Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
April 16, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Transform! -- The following is a speech given by Gabi Zimmer, chair of GUE/NGL, in Athens at the International Conference “Alliance For Democracy – Against Austerity in Europe”, 18-20 March 2016
Thesis 1: Century of Refugees
The 21st century will be the Century of Refugees.
Today, 91 percent of the migrants arriving in Greece are war refugees from countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
Due to civil wars and climate catastrophes many more people will be forced to leave their homes worldwide.
Many of them will come to the EU.
UN estimates range from 50 to 350 million displaced people until 2050 worldwide.
The German government estimates that until 2020 3.6 million migrants will come to settle in Germany, that is 500.000 each year.
The worldwide movement of refugees has just started.
Our world will change, our societies will change.
The big metropolitan areas will be multicultural, the "white Europeans" a minority among others.
The rage of the angry and frustrated white man will not change this.
We must learn to live together in open, democratic, tolerant, secular and socially fair societies.
We must simply accept this.
Thesis 2: Fortress EU and nationalism will fail
Walls, fences and closed borders will never solve the problem.
I can tell this from my own biography in the former GDR.
Instead, it will worsen the humanitarian crisis.
The so called refugee crisis is not a refugee crisis. It is a political crisis!
The current situation in the EU clearly shows: Nationalism and national egoism threaten the EU's very existence.
Today's multiple crises - social, financial, economic, democratic - can only be solved on European level.
And on European level, as a community, we need a global strategy.
This is what we learn from the political crisis concerning the reception of migrants: The time for national solutions is over, once and for all. Thesis 3: EU-Turkey deal is illegal and inhumane
The deal agreed between the EU and Turkey is a deal for Chancellor Merkel.
This deal is no solution, not even temporary.
We cannot lock out our humanitarian responsibilities.
The deal is" short-sighted and inhumane" says Amnesty International".
The deal "violates European and international laws", says the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Jordan)
"These plans are simply illegal" says the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (Nils Raymond Muiznieks).
Collective expulsion is prohibited under the European Convention on Human Rights.
This deal even has a ratio for a new European Asylum law.
It is a blueprint for the next agreements - looking to Libya and other crisis regions.
Furthermore, the deal pushes Turkey deeper into authoritarianism.
It legitimises the oppression of media freedom and of the opposition.
It legitimises the war against Turkey's own citizens with Kurdish background.
What about the Kurdish-Turkish citizens which seek international protection or asylum in the EU, fleeing from Turkish authorities?
Turkey is not a safe country.
It only partially accepted Geneva Convention, only for refugees from Europe, not from Syria or other African or Arab states.
They push back refugees from Syria. There are lot of reports about it! Thesis 4: A pragmatist and humanist strategy of the Left
The Left in the EU needs a pragmatic and forthright European strategy to solve the problems.
If we follow the extreme rights analysis that a common European approach is impossible, there is a danger this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If we give in to the pressure from the right and advocate for national solutions, we will lose this battle for a more humane world before it even started.
Instead, we need to tell our own story about the many problems that need to be solved. We need short-term and mid-term solutions.
(partly taken from GUE/NGL guidelines migration)
1. Setting up a massive and robust proactive multinational rescue operation in the Mediterranean.
2. Stopping any military intervention aiming to target the boats and the smugglers.
3. Opening safe and legal access for migrants and asylum-seekers, including the use of humanitarian visas and resettlement for asylum-seekers.
4. Member states to facilitate family reunification beyond the nuclear family of both beneficiaries of international protection and migrants present in the territory of an EU member states.
5. Increased cooperation with UN actors and member states in full compliance with international law, including on Maritime Search and Rescue, non-refoulement, international protection fundamental rights, the rights of the child and the right to family life as well as ECHR court judgements.
6. We need a relocation scheme for refugees in order to share the blessings and efforts concerning the reception and inclusion of migrants. The Commission relocation key of September 2015 was a starting point. The relocation would be mandatory, using objective and quantifiable criteria.
◦ 40% of the size of the population,
◦ 40% of the GDP,
◦ 10% of the average number of past asylum applications,
◦ 10% of the unemployment rate.
Because of the difficult situation – not only in Eastern Europe – this relocation scheme is not accepted by many Member States for the moment.
7. Work on a common European Asylum System for the Schengen area.
There should not be asylum procedures in Member States anymore, but a European asylum procedure. Those countries that refuse to participate would have to leave Schengen.
8. Develop integration policies in education, employment, healthcare and housing, and ensuring EU funding support for those member states most in need. These policies shall ensure equal participation in social life.