Many people in Europe are asking what will happen if tens of millions of foreign refugees flood the continent? There are already a number of Muslim enclaves in Western Europe and most Muslims do not assimilate to the European culture. In fact, they challenge the European authorities by demanding the application of their own laws and customs. How much longer will Europe survive culturally and politically under such pressure?
By Nicholas Dima | September 14, 2015
Unchecked international migration is threatening the national fabric of Europe currently in the middle of a deep refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving annually, but recently the wave of refugees has gotten out of hand. It is the biggest refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War. The EU authorities are overwhelmed and are trying to make each member country accept specific quotas. This has upset many people and several national governments.
During most of 2015, Italy and Greece were overwhelmed by refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Currently, however, Macedonia and Serbia are assailed by an unstoppable river of refugees from war torn Africa and the Middle East. According to the latest reports, the migrants are crossing the two countries on foot or by various means trying to reach Hungary to enter the EU. Some 160,000 migrants have already reached Hungary this year, and many more are trying to do so daily. Faced with such an influx of migrants, Hungary has complained that its national culture is in danger and its stability is being threatened. Consequently, Budapest has decided to erect a 13-foot wall of razor wire on its border with Serbia. The EU authorities have demanded that Budapest reconsider its plan. Most of the fence is already erected, but refugees continue to enter Hungary by digging under it or by climbing over it.
While thousands of refugees are stalled at the border, others have reached Budapest and have camped near the main railroad station waiting for trains to take them to Germany. Among them, there are many children and elderly people, and the camping conditions are unsafe and unsanitary. The Hungarian public is outrage while the authorities are embarrassed. The situation is not much better further West either. Some 3,000 to 4,000 migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa are camped in France near Calais, trying to reach Britain through the Chunnel or on ferries.
The EU acknowledged that Europe has acted too slowly to handle the migrants and stressed that it must work faster to set up special processing centers to identify those in need of protection and those fleeing poverty. The distinction is that political refugees flee to save their lives while economic refugees are looking for better opportunities. However, separating the two categories is not easy. The process is tedious, confusing and time-consuming. When I was a refugee in Austria in 1968 only about 3-to-4 percent received political asylum. The others were processed and accepted by various countries as regular immigrants.
While from a humanitarian point of view Western countries are open to asylum seekers, demographically they are overwhelmed by economic refugees. However, the EU’s policy is incoherent and each country applies its own criteria. In the meantime, the wave of refugees continues and various countries are at odds about them. German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked EU nations to stop trading accusations and do more to share the responsibility for refugees seeking asylum. She added that Germany took more asylum-seekers than any other country and pressed anew for quotas to spread the migrants more evenly among the EU bloc. Germany also insists that refugees be processed in Hungary, the first EU country they reach. Refugees, however, want to avoid settling in Hungary in order to reach the richer countries of the West. No country knows how to address the issue.
The Czech government asked the European authorities to close the Schengen space and demanded that NATO troops defend the EU borders. Slovakia announced that it will never agree with a system that would require EU members to accept set quotas of refugees. Actually, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland oppose the plan of spreading the refugees all over East and Central Europe. As of this year, Germany alone is expected to receive over 800,000 new people. Nevertheless, recently, a group of Germans booed Chancellor Merkel for being lenient toward the new migrants. On the other hand, after 71 illegal migrants were found suffocated in a truck outside Vienna, a group of Austrians demonstrated for a more humane treatment of the refugees. At the same time, many Germans rallied in Munich in support of the refugees. Obviously, Europe is overwhelmed, confused and divided.
The recent crisis in the Middle East is threatening Europe and some people are blaming America for having destabilized the area without regard to consequences. Libyan refugees try to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Italy and hundreds of them are drowning. Along with them, there are African refugees from various countries. The Syrians come mostly through Turkey and Greece assuming a lower risk. Once in Europe, refugees are confronted with uncertainty and daily difficulties. While controlled migration is necessary for economic development to be mutually beneficial, unchecked migration challenges the stability of the host countries.
Many people in Europe are asking what will happen if tens of millions of refugees flood the continent? There are already a number of Muslim enclaves in Western Europe and most Muslims do not assimilate to the European culture. In fact, they challenge the European authorities by demanding the application of their own Sharia laws and customs. How much longer will Europe survive culturally and politically under such pressure?
Nicholas Dima, Ph.D, is a former professor and author of numerous books and articles including the autobiographical memoir, Journey to Freedom, a description of the effects of communist dictatorship on a nation, a family and an individual. He currently lectures and is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.