Fewer refugees - crisis solved?

Since the conclusion of the Turkey deal and the closure of the Balkan route fewer migrants have arrived in the EU. But does this mean the EU now has the refugee crisis under control? Only superficially, commentators conclude.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Short-sighted, hypocritical and cowardly

Europe is acting as if there were quick turnkey solutions for the refugee problem, the daily Corriere della Sera objects:

“Time, patience, far-sightedness and resolve are needed. But a few things can be done now. Firstly, providing help for the refugees in their home countries, but proper help, not hypocrisy, paltry sums, gifts to dictators and 1980s-style development aid. Enough of that. The international trade regulations that condemn developing countries to stagnation in order to protect the status quo of the West must be changed. Secondly, the arms deliveries to countries at war must stop. How many Eritreans have been forced to flee in boats to us after experiencing first-hand in their villages and in their families the 'quality' of weapons sold by weapons manufacturers - including Italian and European ones - to Isayas Afewerki's regime? Do we expect them to stay obediently in their home country and sacrifice themselves so that they can continue buying our weapons?”

El País (ES) /

Spain suddenly a model

Not so long ago the EU criticised Spain for what has now been decided and implemented at the pan-European level, El País daily observes:

“Only a year ago EU authorities harshly criticised the Spanish government for the existence of razor-wire fences and the policy of immediate repatriation of those who were able to cross them. The Syrian war and the refugee crisis have changed the dimensions of the problem and its perception in Europe to such an extent that Spain's approach in Melilla is now regarded as a model to be studied and even copied. … As with the EU's deal with Turkey, Spain considers Morocco a safe third country, but the humanitarian organisations have no way of checking the fate of migrants who are deported or repatriated.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Absurd praise for Ankara's refugee policy

On his visit to Ankara, EU Council President Donald Tusk said that "today Turkey is the best example for the whole world on how we should treat refugees." An outrage, Girgos Leventis, Director of the International Security Forum, writes in the Cyprus Mail:

“Tusk’s statement is an affront to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian victims as well as the tens of thousands of Turkish and Syrian Kurdish victims that the five year old Turkish meddling and expansionism has created in the region. The Turkish armed forces pound inhabited areas in the southeast nonstop, killing innocent Kurds, citizens of the country. Turkey’s Kurds cry out every single day: 'This is genocide'. The EU should not support Turkey’s creeping invasion in Syrian and Iraq, neither to condone the genocidal war within Turkey against its own Kurdish population. One should ask the real question: What did the EU do for promoting the peace process in Syria?”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Europe a continent of borders once more

Europe's measures in the refugee crisis are paradoxically reminiscent of the continent's recent past, warns Dutch daily De Volkskrant:

“There was a time when fences protected the Soviet Union's zone of influence, now they protect the European Union's zone of influence. Once again Europe has extra impermeable borders. Before 1989 the authorities built them to prevent people leaving their countries in droves. Today the authorities want to prevent people from coming to their countries in droves. … In 2016 the barriers aren't being built by those countries from which people are fleeing but by the countries people want to reach. … The essence of the European Union's agreement with Erdoğan is that Turkey is being paid to keep as many Syrian refugees as possible. This 'paying for refugees' practice is a reversal of a practice common in Europe before 1989: back then countries were paid to let people go.”