World View: EU and African Leaders Clash amid Accusations of ‘Fortress Europe’

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Arms race grows between Serbia and Croatia
  • EU and African leaders clash amid accusations of ‘Fortress Europe’
  • Sweden, Slovenia and Denmark take steps to block the migrant flow

Arms race grows between Serbia and Croatia

Serb football (soccer) fans. For reasons of security, Serb fans were banned from Croatia home games versus Serbia in the World Cup qualifying competitions in 2013. (Croatia Week)
Serb football (soccer) fans. For reasons of security, Serb fans were banned from Croatia home games versus Serbia in the World Cup qualifying competitions in 2013. (Croatia Week)

Of the seven countries that formerly comprised Yugoslavia, Slovenia joined NATO in 2004 and Croatia in 2009, while Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia are aspiring members of NATO. On the other hand, Serbia has expressed no interest in membership in Nato, and it is a foreign policy objective of Russia to keep it that way.

Russia and Serbia have close ties that date back centuries. They are both Orthodox Christian countries, and they were allies in World War I, which was launched in 1914 when a Serb, Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his pregnant wife Sophie. Gavrilo Princip is still considered by Serbs to be a national Serb hero.

Neighboring Croatia, in cooperation with the U.S., recently launched a weapons procurement program that includes sixteen Kiowa combat helicopters and sixteen 240-millimeter ballistic missile launchers with a 200-mile range.

Russia is going to provide Serbia with weapons to maintain the balance of power. Russia has agreed to refurbish four Serbian Air Force MiG-29s and ten MiG-21s, and will provide Serbia with several state-of-the-art Mi-17 and Mi-171 helicopters.

According to Serbia’s President Aleksander Vucic, “We are following what is happening in the region and will not allow a military imbalance.” Jamestown

EU and African leaders clash amid accusations of ‘Fortress Europe’

European and African leaders clashed on Wednesday at a summit meeting in Malta called to discuss the continuing flow of migrants from Africa to Europe. The summit was planned in April, just after 800 migrants traveling from Libya to Europe drowned after the boat provided by human traffickers sank. The two-day summit is proceeding anyway, even though the problem of migrants arriving by boat from Libya is being dwarfed by the arrival of some 650,000 people, mostly Syrians, via Turkey and Greece.

The position of the African leaders is that the main problem is that the European Union does not provide enough ways for migrants to come to Europe and remain legally.

According to African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma:

We have to industrialize and modernize our continent otherwise young people will continue to go elsewhere… The problem we are facing today is in part because some countries in Europe have taken a fortress approach.

In other words, when the day comes that Africa is as economically prosperous as Europe, then there will not be a problem. But until that day arrives, if ever, then the problem is that “Fortress Europe” is preventing African migrants from staying in Europe.

One EU administrator agreed that most migrants are coming to Europe for economic reasons:

There is no secret that the Africans are looking for opportunity for legal migration, work permits and these kinds of things, while the Europeans are focusing more on returns and readmission.

However, EU negotiators have different objective: so-called “return and readmission agreements” that provide a way for the EU to deport people back to their home countries. According to Belgium’s prime minister Charles Michel:

We believe we must both combat illegal immigration, combat traffickers, we believe we must also progress in the field of return and readmission policies. In exchange, the European countries must be mobilized for more economic development support, humanitarian support, and also more support to allow for, as an example, exchanges of students to enable the exchange of researchers, which is also important for the future.

As a carrot, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, is setting up a €1.8-billion “trust fund” for Africa. However, no agreement was reached on the conflicting objectives.

France’s president François Hollande singled out Eritrea for particular criticism, as the country providing the most migrants fleeing to Europe:

Nobody is talking about it. It is a country that is becoming empty of its own population with unscrupulous leaders who let their people go.

Hollande called for “maximum pressure” to be applied to Eritrea’s leaders to mend the situation.

Malta is an appropriate place to be holding the two-day summit, as it is a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the North African coast. AFP and EU Observer (4-Nov) and VOA

Sweden, Slovenia and Denmark take steps to block the migrant flow

Sweden, which had formerly been welcoming to migrants fleeing from the war in Syria, announced on Wednesday that it would close its borders and impose border controls. In the past, most migrants seeking asylum have headed to Germany or Sweden, the two countries regarded as the most welcoming.

According to Sweden’s Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, the purpose of closing the borders is to motivate other EU countries:

Our signal to the EU is crystal clear: Sweden is the country that has taken the greatest responsibility for the refugee crisis. The other countries have to take their responsibility.

Slovenia began erecting a razor-wire fence along its border with Croatia Wednesday as dozens of refugees staged a hunger strike in a Czech Republic detention center. Army trucks laden with wire fencing began constructing the fence along Slovenia’s Croatian border. Reuters reported about 1.2 miles of fencing had been erected by 6:30 a.m. EST.

In the past, migrants would travel from Turkey to Greece, and then through Macedonia and Serbia, before crossing over into Hungary, with Germany the objective. When Hungary closed its borders a few weeks ago, Serbia diverted the flow of migrants into Slovenia, through which they could also travel to Germany. But now Slovenia is taking the same steps that Hungary took, and is closing its own border with Serbia.

The flow of migrants has not slowed with the approach of winter, with thousands of new migrants arriving every day. The nightmare humanitarian disaster that many people fear is that tens of thousands of migrants will be trapped at a border crossing with no food or shelter as winter temperatures fall.

Denmark on Wednesday announced plans to make it easier to deport migrants who have no legal grounds for staying. According to Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen:

The pressure is usually lighter in the winter, but the opposite is happening now. Countries around us are tightening conditions… For that reason as well we need to take another step in Denmark if we want to protect Denmark.

An opposition party leader lauded the move: “The government has finally come to the conclusion that the current situation is not sustainable for Denmark.” Malta Independent and International Business Times

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Serbia, Croatia, Gavrilo Princip, Russia, Nato, Aleksander Vucic, Malta, African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, France, Libya, Turkey, Greece, Belgium, François Hollande, Charles Michel, Sweden, Anders Ygeman, Slovenia, Hungary, Macedonia, Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen,
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