Immigration and Europe’s Limitations

People are drowning in the Mediterranean. I’m not sure if anyone has calculated the percentage of Arabs and Africans that have drowned in trying to get to Europe. Even though more than 1,800 have drowned this year, there are millions of people willing to risk everything to take the journey. Hundreds of thousands have already gotten to Italy, Spain or Greece. It seems that the influx won’t end.

Humanitarian crisis is a hot topic. Politicians, various activists, but also ordinary citizens are rightly pressuring for something to be done. But what?

One frequently mentioned idea is to try and capture those that organize the passage of immigrants. Evidently, they run a very profitable business. Though they do carry risk, it seems that the benefits are worth it. But catching them would only slightly slow down the waves of immigrants, but not stop them.

Western politicians believe that it’s possible to lead a war with only a half-hearted effort. The best way is from the air, and by using drones. Yet, this isn’t the way to win a war. Libya is a textbook example. Air raids will typically only aggravate the counterparty. They can perhaps slow down the Islamic State, but they won’t stop it. As far as I know, none of the politicians who advocated the overthrow of the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi have admitted that things went wrong afterwards. Gaddafi was unquestionably a violent and dangerous man. His state had no civil liberties, yet it was relatively prosperous, and served as a barrier stemming the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. This case confirms the banal truth: it is always easier to destroy something than build it. In contradistinction, modern-day Germany and Japan are democratic states, largely because they were totally crushed at the end of the Second World War. Had the Allies been satisfied with a half-hearted victory, democratic Europe as we know it today would not have materialized. But today’s Europe doesn’t have the appetite to lead and to win a war.

Theoretically, one can distinguish between ‘economic’ and ‘political’ migrants. But as opposed to the Cold war, today it’s much harder to distinguish between economic and political migrants who mostly come from dysfunctional states such as Eritrea and Somalia, not to mention Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

What’s interesting is, that the situation in some of the countries from which the migrants come from (especially the African countries) has not worsened over the last three or four years. So why has the flow of immigrants from these countries increased, and will it stop?

The answer is, there is now a well-worn path into Europe. Because Europe has lost its will to protect itself and has no vision for its future. So when will it stop? Once Europe experiences the same chaos that the migrants do in their home countries.

In 2013, 1.1 billion people lived in Africa. Perhaps about one hundred million have a standard of living comparable to European average. That leaves one billion candidates for the trip across the Sahara and Mediterranean. If we deduct 700 million as not having the desire, nerve, being sick or too old, that leaves us of those who do not have the nerves, are sick, too old, that leaves 300 million potential migrants from Africa alone. Around 507 million people live in the EU. In that case, the EU-given quota for receiving migrants into the Czech Republic would be 6.2 million. Though it can be a consolation that they would not come all at once, on the other hand, I was only referring to Africa.

Finally, there is also the question of security. No one knows how many of the migrants from the Middle East are loyal fighters of the Islamic State. The secret services have no doubt, that such people are present amongst the migrants.

In the end, I agree with Roman Joch and Václav Vlk, who say that the only solution is to stop the flow. This by no means suggests that Africa should be left without assistance. Europeans can sacrifice some of their well-being and help in meaningful projects that would improve the lives of African people. These states must, however, allow Europeans to oversee the process, so as to ensure that the assistance will not be stolen. Such measures are not meant to humiliate or demean Africans, but to help them.

If we don’t implement radical and long-term solutions, we run the risk of the fate of the Roman Empire, which for a long time, held back the Germanic invaders at the border created by Danube and Rhine rivers. The border was eventually broken, and this ultimately destroyed the Roman Empire. Does anyone wish to see Europe perish? Would this help the people in Africa or the Middle East?

Czech Prime Minister Sobotka says, that if we accept 525 refugees, there is a chance that from here they will go on to Germany or Sweden. The Czechs aren’t stupid as to think that 525 Syrians and Iraqis would present an overwhelming problem. Czechs are opposed to the quotas, because they know it’s only the beginning. Next year it won’t be 525, but 5250, and the year after 52,500. These are the concerns that policymakers should be disproving. Yet no mainstream politician wants to talk about long-term solutions. Therefore they shouldn’t be surprised when it is the extremists who do.

Translated from Czech by Natalie Rybová

Edited and shortened by TNP. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of TNP or Přítomnost.

published: 12. 6. 2015