As soon as it became apparent that not everyone in Europe was ready to welcome the influx of refugees fleeing Syria with open arms, a cold German beer, and a selfie photo opp with a world leader, we warned that in some countries, a heightened sense of xenophobia could trigger an intense and possibly dangerous sense of nationalism and that this would only be exacerbated by the threat (real or perceived) of terrorism exported from the war-torn Middle East.
That warning proved prescient when, struggling to cope with thousands of migrants streaming into the country on their way to Germany, Hungary constructed a 100 mile, razor wire fence along its border with Serbia and proceeded to dispatch riot police armed with water cannons and tear gas when hundreds of refugees stranded on the Serbian side of the barrier “became aggressive.”
We also predicted that the situation would be made immeasurably worse should the EU move to force recalcitrant countries to take in migrants as part of a mandatory quota system proposed by Jean-Claude Juncker.
Here’s how we put it last week: "...the perception that Germany is forcing an unwanted demographic shift might well serve to fan the flames not only of nationalism but of religious intolerance, especially given the likelihood that those opposed to settling the migrants will be predisposed to stirring up fears of ISIS operatives slipping into Europe disguised as refugees."
For its part, Slovakia predicted that such a system would bring “the end of the EU.”
Well don’t look now but the EU has agreed on a plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across the bloc and despite the fact that the deal was opposed by Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania, the allocation will be mandatory. Here’s WSJ:
The European Union reached agreement Tuesday on a plan to relocate 120,000 migrants who have arrived in the bloc across the continent over the next two years, European officials said.
Four governments, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania opposed the proposal, possibly setting the stage for intensified friction within the blocover the contentious issue.
Under the plan, some 66,000 asylum seekers will be relocated from Italy and Greece to other EU member states in coming months. That will leave a reserve of 54,000 people who could be relocated from other countries if they experience a sudden influx of migrants.
The plan will be mandatory for all EU member states except the three who have a partial opt-out from EU migration rules; the UK, Ireland and Denmark, officials said. That means that even countries which opposed the decision will have to take in asylum seekers if they are allocated migrants under the scheme.
From The New York Times:
European Union ministers on Tuesday approved a plan for individual countries in the bloc to accept a share of the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking asylum on the continent — but only after overruling four former Soviet bloc countries.
The home affairs and interior ministers, meeting in an emergency session here, voted on a plan to apportion 120,000 refugees — still only a small fraction of those flowing into Europe — among members of the European Union.
The dissenters were the ministers representing the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Under European law, three of the countries — the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia — would be required to accept migrants against their will, said one European Union diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity shortly after the vote.
Needless to say, the countries who opposed the plan are not particularly thrilled with the idea that Brussels is set to force them to accept and settle asylum seekers. Here's Slovak PM Robert FICO:
- SLOVAK PREMIER FICO SPEAKS IN PARLIAMENT IN BRATISAVA
- SLOVAKIA WON’T BACK QUOTAS, READY TO FACE INFRINGEMENT: FICO
- EU MINISTERS’ REFUGEE DECISION IS ’MAJORITY’S DICTAT’: FICO
And yesterday from Hungary's Viktor Orban who has now authorized the use of rubber bullets against refugees (via Reuters):
"Our borders are under threat, our life based on a respect for laws...and the whole of Europe. We are being run over," Orban told parliament.
He reiterated that the migrant quotas proposed by Brussels were not a "European action plan" as first the borders must be protected and the flow of migrants stopped.
Based on the proportions outlined in the original version of the plan, here's an look at the numbers:
And so it begins. It goes without saying that this sets up a potentially disastrous scenario for migrants relocated to countries that opposed the quotas and indeed it's difficult to image that Europe doesn't understand the risk it's taking with the plan. Only time will tell whether this, as Slovakia claims, ultimately marks the beginning of the end for the EU, but one thing seems certain: if these allotments are implemented by force, the bloc's collective commitment to basic human rights is about to face a strenuous test.
We close with the following from IBTimes which we will leave it to readers to interpret:
A Syrian refugee who was tripped by a Hungarian journalist has gained international recognition and the sympathy of the masses after his image went viral. However, a report from Syria claims that the football coach was part of Al Qaeda's Nusra front before fleeing the country with his family.
The image of Osama Abdul Mohsen shows theSyrian refugee being kicked and tripped over by a Hungarian camerawoman while running across the border from Hungary to Serbia along with his eight-year-old son. The image went viral and sparked international uproar.
The international community reacted with outrage and came all out in support of Mohsen. The camerawoman has been fired, while Mohsen has been invited to live in Spain by a football academy, where he has also been offered a job. Even Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid met with the family during a match.
It has, however, now emerged that the first division football coach was not only a member of the radical al-Nusra front, but he also fought the Kurds, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) -- pro-Kurdish political unit based in Northern Syria -- alleged.