9 March 2016
Syed Kamall MEP questions EU-turkey deal.
Speaking in the European Parliament today during a debate on the forthcoming EU summit on the 17th and 18th March, European Conservatives and Reformists group chairman Syed Kamall MEP, said that there is no single ‘silver bullet’ or agreement that can solve the migration and refugee crisis. He said:
“Last week Donald Tusk gave a very clear message to potential irregular migrants. When he said: “Do not come to Europe. Do not believe smugglers.” Finally a European leader trying to break the link between getting on a boat and bypassing legal migration channels. Because stemming the flow of irregular migrants will allow our countries to focus on helping refugees who need and deserve our help directly from the conflict zones.
“Let us be clear: our enemies are not the refugees who are fleeing from war, conflict and persecution. Our enemies are not the irregular migrants who come from safer countries and who may use the conflict to understandably seek a better life in our countries. Our enemies are the people traffickers, who prey on innocent and desperate people, who care little for the lives of their human cargo, and who deserve to be taken out of action.
“So on Monday EU leaders agreed the outline of an agreement with the Turkish government, and I hoped to be standing here today welcoming a deal. But instead I have to admit I have a number of reservations and questions.
“Firstly, the process. Yet again we see one or two leaders going off to negotiate with Turkey on behalf of the EU without really consulting the other countries. Secondly, I struggle to see how much of this is either legal or practical. Even in desperate times should we just tear up our own rules and international conventions? Thirdly, I am very concerned that we are replacing one series of pressures from economic migration with another by granting Turkey visa liberalisation in a matter of weeks. Without thinking through the implications. Fourthly, how will the six billion euros be delivered? Will it be tied to clear targets that must be met? Otherwise would we not be better off and safer spending that vast sum of money here on reception, processing and returns?
“And Turkey itself is testing the EU. Those of us who believe in the freedom of press should be concerned about the actions of the Turkish government against the Zaman newspaper.
If we are to work with Turkey on migration as friends, then as friends we should also be honest with them about whether EU membership is realistic and our concerns over freedoms in their country.
“Whatever our views, we must all realise that we will not begin to control this crisis until we all realise that there is no one silver bullet to solve this crisis. We made that mistake last year with the relocation scheme. Let’s not make the same mistake again.
“While we may not be able to stop the flows altogether, we can show that our borders are not a free-for-all.
“In the short term we can work on finalising readmission agreements and speeding up returns. We can fingerprint upon arrival, and find resources to speed up processing of applications. We can put NATO ships in the Aegean to target the traffickers.
“In the long run we can talk about reform of Dublin. But should we really be reinventing Dublin in the midst of a crisis? Or should we find a way of making the system we have work effectively, and helping those facing the greatest pressures? Dublin failed because countries stopped implementing it.
“Yes, Greece does have a significant humanitarian crisis. But EU politicians would be making a huge mistake to launch a hostile takeover of Greece under Article 78 of the treaty, as I see some politicians are proposing.
“Guy (Verhofstadt), I see you looking at me. I imagine you’re going to attack me yet again this week. The number of times you mention “Mr Kamall” in your speeches really is flattering. I just hope for your partner’s sake you don’t say my name in your sleep!
“But on an issue as important as this, I ask you and others here today not to seek to score cheap political points. But to agree how all of us can work together to find effective answers.
“Not undeliverable silver bullets. Not initiatives designed to grab the headlines. But practical solutions to save lives and help refugees.
“Because, we owe it to our citizens and refugees that desperately need our help, to stem the flow of those who are not refugees, to help frontline states take responsibility; and to provide a refuge for those genuinely fleeing for their lives.”
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