EU countries need to ‘wake up’ over refugee crisis, says UNHCR image «Διαχωρίζουμε τη θέση μας»

Συνέντευξη: Il Giorno / La Nazione

On immigration Greece and Italy can join forces?

Of course. And they have to. Italy, Greece and Spain have shared the sheer volume of refugee/migrant flow from Africa and Middle East during recent years. Italy was left alone by several EU partners during the refugee/migration crisis in 2014, when it received 170 thousands people. In the same way Greece is left alone by several EU partners in 2015-16, receiving about 1 million people.
No state alone can handle this flood. This is not only a unprecedented humanitarian crisis. It is also a major geopolitical disorder and a serious threat for peace, security and stability in the Mediterranean, in the strategic soft belly of Europe, the bridge between Europe, Africa and Asia.
It is our responsibility, as Mediterranean countries and EU members, to defend peace, security and stability in the region and in the continent, and at the same time to defend our humane face and common values.

We need to go towards the revision of the Dublin Regulation?

The existing Regulation does not work. Emerging and ongoing reality has made it non functional, if not obsolete. An updated Regulation and an updated European Asylum System must be enacted, with efficiency, proportionality, solidarity and subsidiarity in mind.

Tsipras was the first to speak about solidarity. We need more solidarity in United Europe. Even now Renzi has aligned itself and it seems that Junker agrees. But in the Balkans it is raised new walls. What to do?

First of all we have to respect the agreements and the resolutions of the European Council. Second, everyone must share the burdens as well the benefits. Proportionality is the keyword: the newcomers to EU have to remember that. If a member-state does not conform to joint decisions and joint action plans, then it must face a penalty, like an exemption from structural funds.

Austria has proved not to dialogue, what do you think about?

Austria has received quite a lot of refugees, about 100 thousands, I have to admit. And I praised Austria for that during my recent visit in Vienna. Nevertheless its call to other states in the Balkan Route to seal borders unilaterally, aiming at a domino effect of sealed borders up to Greece, is not a friendly gesture. Actually it is a quasi hostile gesture. Let alone that Greece, a EU partner and ally, was not asked its opinion. Let alone that two days ago in European Council Summit an agreement had been concluded for not changing border status till the extra EC Summit of March 7th.

I hope that Lesbos and Lampedusa will win Nobel Prize for peace, and you?

That would be a loud message, the loudest possible, to the whole world, to people and governments. For a world of peace and compassion.

How will it be the Europe of the future?

If we don’t change our European and global policies a dystopia will be arise, alike to the dark Europe of the Interwar period in 20th century. Extreme Right, with its xenophobic and racist discourse, tries and succeeds to set the political and intellectual agenda among people exhausted from austerity neo-libelal policies and frustrated from inefficient EU policies.
Europe is the most prosperous and democratic zone of the planet. Above all Europe has to defend the core values of Enlightenment and Democracy. It has to share its fundamental values and become more diverse too.

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