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Issue #1703      September 23, 2015


Europe’s breaking union

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had announced that all were welcome – winning her a reputation as the most humane leader in all Europe. But suddenly the line was changed; German crossing points from Austria were shut down. Then Austria closed its entry points from Hungary, while Hungary, by far the most brutal, plugged up its entry points from Serbia with razor wire and, when it felt necessary, with batons, tear gas and multiple arrests.Now Serbia has followed suit, followed by Croatia and those Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and other refuge-seekers who survived dangerous crossings through ever stormier seas are caught in a series of mouse-traps. Their loud chants of “Germany, Germany” and joyful waving of Merkel portraits have largely vanished.

It has been suggested that Merkel’s mercy was really motivated by hopes that a large increase in population, especially by young people of working age, would not only counteract the demographic threat of a Germany with ever fewer babies but also build up a reserve army of eager workers, useful in counteracting fights for wage increases by a work force already hit hard by a growing number of temporary, part-time, low-paid jobs, always harder to organise and easier to exploit.

But her reversal was also based on the refusal of the European Union to take in more than 120,000 of the 1,000,000 expected in Germany alone. Few member countries have accepted even modest quotas; Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Baltic countries – many now celebrating “velvet revolutions for human rights” a quarter of a century ago – refuse to take in even a handful.

The quarrel is threatening the very basis of the highly-heralded European Union, especially one of its key achievements – visa-free borders, unhindered travel and migration from Estonia to Malta, from the North Cape (Norway) to the Rock of Gibraltar.

One long-lasting cause is the colony-like treatment of poorer countries. Most African immigrants (aside from Eritrea, a different story) are from Nigeria. With over 50 years of oil exploitation, vast stretches have poor water quality; there is pollution, disruption and degradation of farmlands and fishing ports, destruction of wildlife and biodiversity, loss of fertile soil.

Moreover, there has been no provision of adequate compensation or a planned mitigation policy for the areas affected. The response in the form of protest and campaigns against the activities of the multinational oil companies, has led and continues to lead to violations of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the form of extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and unlawful restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. These restrictions are imposed by security agents mostly with the complicit support of oil multinationals.

But behind all the recent human surges are wars started or supported by the “western democracies.” Large numbers have fled from Iraq and Afghanistan, both thrown into deathly turmoil by illegal foreign invasions.

In Syria, Germany and other major powers have provided all sides with weapons for years, even poison gas, while repeatedly rejecting peace negotiations unless Assad is eliminated, an impossible condition for any realistic efforts. The worst killer in the region, ISIS, has constantly exported oil (and valuable antique objects) via that friendly Western ally Turkey, now carrying out a merciless bombing campaign against left-wing Kurdish groups, far and away the most effective force in fighting ISIS.

Main sources of ISIS weapons, it is clear, have been Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, close US allies, who also use them to fight Saudi’s chosen new foes, the Houthis, destroying much of Yemen in the process. They, in turn, were supplied for years by just those western countries which complain most loudly about ISIS cruelty.

While the USA is the main supplier, Germany has also sold them arms worth billions. In February and March it sold huge amounts of ammo and spare parts for tanks and ground-air missile equipment.

It is clear; humane treatment is a must in accepting the refugees, while the only way to stop more such waves is to end the wars and the armament sales.

Next article – CPA solidarity with Simón Trinidad

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