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Luxembourg’s foreign minister says #Hungary should be expelled from #EU

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Luxembourg’s foreign minister has called for Hungary to be thrown out of the European Union over its increasingly hostile approach to refugees, as campaigners accuse Viktor Orbán’s hardline government of whipping up xenophobia to block a European plan to relocate asylum seekers. Jean Asselborn said Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the EU for treating asylum seekers “worse than wild animals”.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, he said: “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.”

Asselborn called for EU rules to be changed to make it easier to expel Hungary as this was “the only way of preserving the cohesion and values of the European Union”.

 Hungary’s foreign affairs and trade minister Péter Szijjártó dismissed Asselborn as “an intellectual lightweight” and his comments as “sermonizing, pompous and frustrated”.

He said only Hungarians have the right to decide who they wish to live with, adding that no Brussels bureaucrat can deprive them of this right.

In a statement issued by the Hungarian government, Szijjártó added: “It is somewhat curious that Jean Asselborn and Jean-Claude Juncker – who both come from the country of tax optimisation – speak about jointly sharing burdens. But we understand what this really means: Hungary should take on the burden created by the mistakes of others.”

Human Rights Watch also called on Europe to use its “enforcement powers” against Budapest after documenting abuse of asylum seekers that it says breaches Hungary’s legal obligations under European and international law.

It is also alarmed by an anti-migrant campaign orchestrated by Orbán’s government to resist an attempt to impose binding quotas for resettling asylum seekers in member states.

On 2 October, Hungary is due to hold a controversial referendum on the relocation plan, which involves sending 1,294 asylum seekers to Hungary. Orbán’s government has sent an 18-page booklet to millions of Hungarian households urging citizens to reject the plan because it says “forced settlement endangers our culture and traditions”.

Lydia Gall, HRW’s Budapest-based researcher on eastern Europe, dismissed the booklet as government-sponsored xenophobic anti-refugee propaganda rubbish.

She accused the EU of being “virtually silent” in the face of such rhetoric. But she said Asselborn’s call to expel Hungary from the EU would “probably do more harm than good”.

In an email to the Guardian, Gall said Hungary should instead be prosecuted. She wrote: “The EU has good tools to address human rights problems in member states. The focus, rather, should be on generating the political will to use those mechanisms to hold Hungary to account including, if necessary, through the court of justice.”

Hungary’s booklet includes an image of migrants and asylum seekers queuing to enter Europe, similar to the much-criticised “Breaking Point” poster launched by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage during Britain’s EU referendum campaign.

The headline above the image of the queue says: We have a right to decide who we want to live with, according to a translation by the Budapest Beacon.

Gall said Hungary’s booklet was worse than the Ukip poster. She said: “While the Ukip poster was revolting, it doesn’t compare to the anti-migrant and anti-refugee campaign in Hungary in terms of scale.”

In a blogpost, she added: “The booklet contains distorted facts about Europe’s refugee crisis, portraying asylum seekers and migrants as dangerous to Europe’s future. It links migration to increased terrorism and refers to non-existent ‘no-go’ areas in European cities with large migrant populations, including London, Paris and Berlin, where authorities have allegedly lost control and where law and order is absent.”

She added: “Sixty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Hungarians obtained sanctuary from persecution in other parts of Europe and North America. If the Hungarian government reminded itself and Hungarians about that history, it might help create a more positive and welcoming attitude towards those from Syria and elsewhere seeking safety in Hungary today.”

Hungary’s hardline rhetoric on refugees left it isolated during the peak of the refugee crisis in September 2015, but in the year since, Orbán has become an increasingly pivotal figure in European policy. Austria, which initially followed Germany by responding compassionately to refugees, now stands with Hungary in calling for an Australian-style solution to the refugee crisis.

“In September, Orbán was the bad guy,” Gerald Knaus, head of the Berlin-based thinktank the European Stability Initiative, told the Guardian earlier this month. “Yet by the end of the year he was the leader of a coalition of states. And with Austria now taking the lead on arguing for an Australian-style system, it’s now Germany that is isolated.”

But Orbán’s vision goes far beyond simply repelling immigrants. In a speech made last year, Orbán hailed what he saw as the demise of liberal Europe. “We are experiencing now the end of an era: a conceptual-ideological era,” Orbán told supporters last autumn. “Putting pretension aside, we can simply call this the era of liberal babble. This era is now at an end.”

A week ago, Orbán continued this argument at a press conference with the rightwing Polish politician Jarosław Kaczyński, in which he called for Europe and its institutions to be reworked in favour of a rightwing vision. “We are at a historic cultural moment,” said Orbán. “There is a possibility of a cultural counter-revolution right now.”

Source: EIN News/Guardian Online

Asylum policy

Turkey’s policy in #Libya threatens EU

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The Turkish intervention into the Libyan conflict caused the negative effect for the region: the balance of power changed and the GNA liberated Tripoli from the LNA forces and recently started a big-scale offensive on Sirte city. On 6 June after negotiations with the Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh Issa  and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the president of Egypt, issued the Cairo Declaration.

It is based on the agreements reached at the Berlin Conference on Libya in January. According to Cairo Declaration, "all parties undertake to cease fire from 6h local time on Monday, 8 June". In addition, it provides for the continuation of negotiations in Geneva under UN patronage of a joint military committee in the 5+5 format (five representatives from each side). Further progress on other issues, including political, economic and security, will depend on the success of its work.

EU Foreign Affairs Minister Josep Borrell, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Mayo welcomed the declaration and called for the cessation of all hostilities in Libya and the withdrawal of all foreign troops and military equipment from the country.

The French president noted that Turkey is playing "a dangerous game" in Libya. "I don't want in six months, or one year or two, to see that Libya is in the situation that Syria is in today," Macron added.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendyas announced on Wednesday 24 June in a statement following the visit of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrel to Evros that Turkey "continues to undermine security and stability, as well as peace in the Eastern Mediterranean", causing problems for all its neighbours. "Turkey has continuously violated the sovereignty of Libya, Syria, Iraq and our EU partner, the Republic of Cyprus. In Libya, again in clear disregard for international legitimacy, it violates the UN embargo in pursuit of its neo-Osmanian aspirations. It openly ignores Europe's repeated calls for respect for international legitimacy," Dendyas said.

Turkey rejected the Cairo Declaration: The "Cairo Initiative" on the Libyan settlement is “not convincing” and insincere, declared Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. After the Cairo Declaration Chairman of Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj urged the GNA troops to "continue their path" towards Sirte.

The recent success of the GNA troops is caused by the participation of Syrian mercenaries, connected with jihadists, who actively were sent in Libya by Turkey to fight against the LNA from may 2019. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the number of fighters from the pro-Turkey Syrian factions today can reach more than 18 000. Generally, the mercenaries are from Al-Mu'tasim Brigade, the Sultan Murad Brigade, the Northern Falcons Brigade, Al-Hamzat and Suleiman Shah. The mercenaries are promised to be paid 1500-2000 $ a month, but the current monthly salary of each fighter is around 400$.

The policy of Turkey in the Libyan region represents destructive neo-Ottoman and pan-islamist strategy, which is based on the neocolonialist ambitions. The possible explanation for the intervention to Libya is the instability in Turkey itself and the Erdogan’s loss of popularity (the support of AKP party came from 33.9 in February 2020 to 30.7 in May 2020 according to Metropol). The Turkish president uses the Islamic narrative (in Libya as the war on side of the GNA, in Turkey – the initiative to convert Hagia Sophia back into Mosque) for the legitimation of his power. İbrahim Karagül , the columnist in the mainstream Yeni Şafak media of Turkish Republic wrote:“Turkey will never withdraw from Libya. It will not give up before achieving its aim.”

The major pro-Erdogan media spread this neocolonialist agenda about from November 2019 (when GNA signed 2 deals with Erdogan): Libya is seen as a part of the neo-ottoman empire.

Threat for the EU

The negative effect of the neo-ottoman agenda in Libya is the threat of the new migration crisis, which can happen to the EU. In march 2020 Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Tayyip Erdogan, declared, that Turkey will not close the borders for refugees until the EU fulfills its promises to Ankara. Recently Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has noted the surge of a new wave of refugees to Europe amidst the stabilization of the COVID-19 situation. If Turkey responds to this challenge, Europe will face a new migration crisis and its social services will feel the main blow from the new wave of refugees.

The other front of threat is the Libyan costs, the starting point for the trip of migrants to Europe. Nearly 2,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants that were transported to Libya over the last five months have fled the north African nation for Europe according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

European governments are taking steps to actively counter Turkish policy in Libya: France has already addressed NATO on this issue. French president has already discussed the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump, and more exchanges on the issue are expected in the coming weeks.

In order to protect European interests, it is important to protect Libya from Turkish expansion and to prevent Erdogan from gaining control over the country's assets.

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Asylum policy

#EUAsylumRules - Reform of the #DublinSystem

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The influx of migrants and asylum seekers to Europe in recent years has shown the need for a fairer, more effective European asylum policy. Check out the infographic for more information.
© European Union 2018 -EP   

Although the record migratory flows to the EU witnessed in 2015 and 2016 have subsided, Europe - due to its geographic position and stability - is likely to remain a destination for asylum seekers and migrants amid international and internal conflicts, climate change and poverty.

There is need for an overhaul of EU asylum rules, and of the Dublin system in particular, in order to increase the EU's preparedness for receiving migrants and asylum seekers and to ensure greater solidarity and a fairer sharing of responsibility among EU countries.

Young Rohingya refugees look out over Palong Khali refugee camp, a sprawling site located on a hilly area near the Myanmar border in south-east Bangladesh.© UNHCR/Andrew McConnellYoung Rohingya refugees look out over Palong Khali refugee camp, near the Myanmar border in south-east Bangladesh.© UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

What are the Dublin rules?

The cornerstone of the EU asylum system, the Dublin regulation determines which EU country is responsible for processing applications for international protection. On 6 November 2017, the European Parliament confirmed a mandate for inter-institutional negotiations with EU governments on an overhaul of the Dublin rules. Parliament's suggestions for a new Dublin regulation include:

  • The country in which an asylum seeker first arrives would no longer be automatically responsible for processing the asylum application.
  • Asylum seekers with a 'genuine link' to a particular EU country should be transferred there.
  • Those without a genuine link to an EU country should be shared fairly among all member states. Countries refusing to participate in the transfer of asylum seekers could lose EU funds.
  • Security measures should be stepped up, and all asylum seekers must be registered upon arrival with their fingerprints checked against relevant EU databases.
  • Provisions on minors should be strengthened and family reunification procedures accelerated.

Although the Parliament has been ready since November 2017 to enter negotiations on an overhaul of the Dublin system, EU governments have been unable to reach a position on the proposals.

Learn more about Parliament's suggested amendments in the infographic above and in this background note.

13.6 million - The number of new people forced to flee their home in 2018

According to the UN Refugee Agency, 13.6 million people were forcibly displaced in 2018 due to persecution, conflict or violence. It brings the total worldwide population of forcibly displaced people to a new high of 70.8 million. 84% of the world's refugees are hosted by developing regions.

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Asylum policy

Future #Asylum reform: Designed to address both primary and secondary movements

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The reform of EU asylum rules initiated by the Commission in 2015 are designed to ensure humane and dignified treatment of asylum seekers, simplified and shortened asylum procedures, as well as stricter rules to combat abuse. The key objectives of the reforms include both stopping secondary movements and ensuring solidarity for member states of first entry. With discussions ahead of the European Council focusing on how no member state should be left alone or put under disproportionate pressure be it from primary or secondary movements, the European Commission has today set out in factsheet how the future reform would contribute to both objectives. Read the factsheet here.

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