Suggesting that Europe is an example of poor treatment or indifference towards asylum-seekers is sheer hypocrisy, European Council President Donald Tusk has told the United Nations.
“Everyone can offer help to the refugees. And those who do not want to, at least shouldn’t hide their indifference by criticising Europe for doing too little,” Tusk said on September 29, the second day of the UN General Assembly’s 70th annual General Debate.
“The crisis we are talking about has global dimensions and demands a global solution,” Tusk said, chiding those who cite European tensions over how to tackle the influx as an example of ill treatment, according to a report by the UN News Centre.
“If in Europe we are engaged in animated discussions on relocation quotas, it is because we care. It is because we seek to be as effective and as inclusive as possible. But quotas are just a fraction of what Europe is already doing to help those who flee wars and persecution,” he said.
“By contrast, many countries represented here deal with this problem in a much more simple way; namely by not allowing migrants and refugees to enter their territories at all. This is why suggesting that Europe is an example of poor treatment or indifference towards asylum-seekers is sheer hypocrisy,” Tusk said.
“Everyone can offer help to the refugees. And those who do not want to, at least shouldn’t hide their indifference by criticising Europe for doing too little.”
Tusk said Syria’s crisis will not be solved unless a common denominator of interests is found among the regional players. He warned, however, that a peace plan must not just define a new division into spheres of influence but above all safeguard the interests of millions of Syrians, including those internally displaced and the refugees.
The fight against terrorism is important in this context, he added, but emphasised that many refugees are fleeing the state terrorism of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“Today the circle of proponents of the idea that Bashar al-Assad should be part of Syria’s transition is growing. Yet we cannot forget that millions of people have fled his horrific methods of trying to secure stability in Syria,” Tusk said.
Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves emphasised the need to deal with the root causes of the migration crisis. “But this truly biblical movement of peoples demands a global response,” he said, noting that the European Union (EU), the main donor, has already mobilised about four billion euro already mobilised to Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
He voiced extreme concern at the rising support for far right or far left political movements in Europe, often fuelled by anti-immigrant, racist sentiments. “Short-sighted, populist policies exploiting fears of ordinary people will lead to nowhere,” he said.
Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi said that Europe was born to tear down walls, not to build them. “This is why Italy is in the front line in rescuing thousands of migrants who are fleeing war and despair,” he said.
Romanian president Klaus Werner Iohannis also calledfor addressing the full dimensions of the current massive waves of migration.
“This phenomenon needs not just responses to the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees of migration but to the root causes,” he said.
(Photo of Tusk: UN Photo/Kim Haughton)