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Not a refugee but a systemic crisis


by Panos Trigazis

 

The dominant media and representatives of various governments describe the on-going, unprecedented and growing waves of refugees heading for Europe as a ''refugee crisis''. In my view, this term does not express the reality, and may imply that the refugees are to blame for the problems associated with their entry into and settlement in the host countries.

In fact, this phenomenon is yet another aspect of the crisis in the system of international relations and international institutions, the purpose of which is to defend international peace and security and protect the rights of peoples and societies.

I am referring primarily to the United Nations which, if its role had not been weakened and undermined, could have contributed to preventing, de-escalating and settling crises like the one in Syria. As a result, its responsibility for ending the war in Syria has now passed into the hands of the US and Russia, while the EU is conspicuous by its absence.

The refugee-migrant issue is also reflected in the EU crisis. What other meaning can be attributed to the refusal by a number of member-states to accept even the inadequate Juncker plan for receiving and settling refugees on their soil, thus fulfilling their obligation under international law?

Let me also add that the influx of refugees is not a symptom of the European crisis but rather indicative of the fact that, on the pretext of the refugee-migrant issue, an upsurge in the abhorrent phenomena of xenophobia, racism and neo-Nazism has been observed in many countries. In a democratic and social Europe, these phenomena would not have found fertile soil because governments would have considered them unthinkable. Now we have the government of Hungary, which is building fences and even reached the point of using mobile courts to prevent the ''illegal'' entry of migrants and refugees into Hungary which, it should be noted, is a multicultural society.

Another symptom of the EU crisis is that its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has not been activated in favour of drawing up a peace programme for the Middle East and the Mediterranean. This should have been the reply by Europe (including Russia) to the terrorist action by ISIS in Paris, rather than new wars in the Middle East, or the reappearance of pseudo-dilemmas of the ''security or democracy'' type. In this direction, the government of Greece can play a role. It has done very well on the refugee-migrant issue, assisted by the amazing movement of solidarity with the refugees developed by the residents of the Aegean islands.

Speaking of the European peace programme for the Middle East and the Mediterranean, what are the views of the New Democracy and Democratic Coalition (PASOK, DIMAR) parties? The question is addressed mainly to Fofi Gennimata, President of PASOK, as she frequently cites the legacy of Andreas Papandreou, who in the very difficult years, was in the front ranks of international peace initiatives, thereby upgrading our country’s international position and role.

In conclusion, since the refugee-migrant situation is also associated with the major issue of terrorism, and in particular with the activity of ISIS, I would like to raise the question of whether the so-called Islamic State can be effectively confronted by new wars in the Middle East, a view that ignores the deeper causes of the spread of this terrible phenomenon.

The Left in Greece and in Europe rejects the ''theory of the clash of civilisations'', by pointing out the social and political causes of the terrorist phenomenon. Because, let’s face it, terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda and ISIS find fertile ground in some societies owing to the unfair, unjust and anti-democratic international class that rules the world today. This fact, however, is beyond the understanding of our country’s conservative forces.

 

Panos Trigazis is a member of the Central Committee and coordinator of the International Relations and Peace Affairs Department of SYRIZA

 

*The above article was published on February in the Athens daily ''Efimerida ton Syntakton'', an independent left newspaper

 

posted on March 3, 2016