Monthly Archives: April 2015

Europe´s refugee crisis: What should be done?

The current situation in the Mediterranean Sea, where huge numbers of refugees and labor migrants were drowning in the last weeks puts a lot of public pressure on the EU. Some time ago, the EU operations in that area were scaled back, from ‘Mare Nostrum’ to ‘Triton’. Simultaneously, troubled societies and failing states created an atmosphere that triggered people in ever more countries to leave. Organized criminal gangs took advantage of this, trading unsecure ways of transport to Europe against secure cash. The EU was taken by surprise, suprisingly. There are policy deficits, not enough money earmarked for the problem, and distribution problems between governments. Now, emergency summit meetings try to cope with the pictures from people drowning in the sea.

The difficult question is now: Should the EU take as many refugees as possible, under the motto “saving human lives no matter what”? Or should it consider the likely consequences, like opening the gates a bit more would encourage many more people to come? Why are most EU countries very hesitant to accept refugees, while a few EU member states (Italy, Germany, Sweden, Malta, Austria) take almost all of them? Would camps for refugees in Northern Africa be a good idea, for screening their expected asylum applications already there? Is there a special responsibility for Europe to address this question, or just geographical contingency?

Under what conditions should reparations and restitution claims be accepted?

Representatives of Greece are using the opportunity – their sailing along the shore of insolvency – to claim reparations, or interest rates for forced state loans from the German government during WWII. Germany has so far resisted these requests.

How many decades, or centuries, back is there a possibly legitimate basis for such claims? There are still the comfort women in Korea and China, asking Japan for justice payments. There are the successors of former slaves in the US and aborigines in Australia. In a more general sense, mutual territorial claims are one of the core issues between Israel and Palestine. Is it simply politically and socially wise to accept what happened in the past, mourn, and move on, giving up on all potential claims?

, , , , , ,