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African officials far from enthusiasm about EU plans to check migrant flows

November 13, 2015, 21:21 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© Panu Pohjola/Lehtikuva via AP, Archive

MOSCOW, November 13. /TASS/. The Malta summit of African and European countries has drawn up an action plan for measures that should have been taken long ago at the start of the migrant crisis. In other words, efforts to address the problem away from Europe and thorough analysis of how to facilitate the assimilation of refugees, the head of the European political studies department at the World Economy and World Politics Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nadezhda Arbatova, told TASS.

The two-day EU-Africa summit in Valletta, Malta ended on Thursday with a declaration of the intention to create a special €1.8-billion fund for providing assistance to the African countries. The joint action plan for measures against the migrant crisis is expected to stop the flow of resettlers from Africa to Europe and to encourage those African refugees already in Europe to return home. In the countries located in the Horn of Africa and in the north of the continent the communities that agree to accommodate the migrants will be entitled to extra financing that would let them support and promote the integration of displaced persons.

However, the high-ranking officials who attended the Africa-EU summit refrained from any promises they would welcome back the African refugees who are already in Europe. Some African countries opposed the plans for the creation of centres in third countries for the accommodation of African refugees.

Arbatova believes that the European Union, originally shocked and dismayed at the sight of an unprecedented flow of refugees, has now taken a more realistic and soberly-minded stance. "The EU made a decision in favor of a more scrupulous registration of migrants in order to separate genuine political refugees who have the right to seek citizenship in the EU countries from purely economic migrants. The Balkan countries will create special centers for the registration of refugees. Also, the EU has decided to deport 400,000 economic migrants," she said.

"Alongside the decision to cooperate with third countries in the southern Mediterranean, which are closer to the hotbeds of conflicts, away from the center of Europe, with the aim to prevent an influx of illegal migrants the European Union is going to closely monitor the financial spending on efforts to address the refugee problem. Those third countries were told in very clear terms that defiance of that plan would be fraught with major trading and economic sanctions," Arbatova said.

She underscored the fact that the European Union at last stopped to think that granting citizenship to political refugees by no means guaranteed their subsequent integration with the European society. "The string of terrorist attacks in London were committed by UK subjects. The EU is getting aware that migrants from the Middle East and Africa often bring to Europe what caused them to flee their home countries — crime, chaos and ruin. The EU’s new diplomatic strategy envisages the rearing of refugees’ children at pre-school centers, the doubling of vacancies at European universities for African students and prevention of the emergence of Muslim enclaves."

At the same time Arbatova acknowledged that the problem of migrants’ adaptation to a different culture, civilization and lifestyle will be a hard and long process.

As for the departure of some EU countries from the rules of the Schengen zone, the resumption of strict passport checks and the emergence of barbed wire fences on the border, Arbatova believes they are temporary measures.

"For how much longer they will stay fact depends on the EU’s ability to cope with the flood of migrants."

Arbatova sees a far more serious problem for the EU unity: the introduction of accommodation quotas for various countries.

"For Italy, Slovenia, Greece and Croatia the introduction of quotas is good, because they are the hardest-hit by the migrants’ flows. As for the states that lie far away from southern Europe, for instance, the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, they are firmly against the distribution of refugees according to quotas."

"The problem of quotas adds to the strength of the nationalist parties and associations in Europe. They will hardly have any chances of scoring election victories, because most of the EU countries were vaccinated against xenophobia during the years of Nazi occupation. But conservative politicians may use society’s negative attitude towards migrants as their trump card in the internal political struggle," Arbatova said.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors