European Parliament President Antonio Tajani claims there could be as many as 30 million migrants heading to Europe in the coming years and advocates “refugee cities” as an answer to the crisis.
The European Union (EU) president addressed the migrant crisis and its focus which has shifted sharply to the Mediterranean route from North Africa to his native Italy. Tajani admitted that terror groups like Islamic State have used the migrant crisis to sneak fighters into Europe to commit terror attacks and noted that immigration, terrorism, and the economy were top on his agenda in an interview with German newspaper, Die Welt.
On the subject of migration from Africa, Tajani said: “Africa is in a dramatic position: The desert eats agricultural land, the terrorist organisation Boko Haram persecutes Christians and moderate Muslims. Nigeria and Niger are in poverty. In Somalia, there is drought and civil war.”
“If we do not manage to solve the central problems in African countries, 10, 20, or even 30 million immigrants will come to the European Union in ten years,” he added.
To solve the crisis, Tajani said the EU member states should invest billions into the economies of African nations. The EU leader noted the Chinese presence in Africa but did not think the Chinese were interested in stability. “Africa is now risking becoming a Chinese colony, but the Chinese want only the raw materials. Stability does not interest them,” he said.
One of the solutions Tajani proposes is to create “refugee cities” similar to proposals made by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz. “I imagine provisional cities with hospitals and facilities for children, where people can live temporarily. We must prevent the migrants from getting caught in the traffickers’ traps and dying while travelling through the desert or across the Mediterranean,” he said.
Tajani is also worried by the potential of terror groups like Boko Haram of Nigeria travelling to Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, but stressed the main source of terrorism flowing into the bloc comes via the Balkan route.
He said that Europeans should not stay at home because of terrorism and should go out and be social but added: “We will, therefore, have to get used to increased police checks. I would be happy to be more controlled by the police.”
The topic of Islamisation was also touched upon as Tajani mentioned the character of Europe being specifically Christian. “Whoever has a strong identity does not need to be afraid of others. We must defend our identity,” he said. “If we do not defend our values, the newcomers will make their rules. The U.S. shows how to do it. There is a flag in front of many houses.”
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org