FECL 12 (February 1993):


The Council of Europe will deal with the refugee issue at a conference in Budapest, in February. The conference is expected to adopt a treaty regulating the sending and taking back of "illegal economic refugees". In Budapest there is rising concern about the prospect of tens of thousands of Russians getting stuck in Hungary, one of the more prosperous countries of Eastern Europe, on their way to the West.




Slovenia agrees to take back unwanted migrants from Austria, Hungary fears to be left on the shelf with a tide of Russians going west, Czechia is determined to fend off unwanted asylum seekers by sending the army to its new Eastern border, leaving it up to the unloved Slovakian brother to tackle the problem. These hasty moves are all an expression of one and the same concern: They feel pressed to demonstrate their willingness and ability to comply with the demand of the rich neighbours in the West that they help tighten the walls of "Fortress Europe", as a precondition for any western assistance. This is achieved by the zealous endeavour shown in concluding a plethora of bi-lateral agreements with the Western neighbours, which all amount to the same thing: the poor Eastern European countries engage to take back from the rich western European countries the evergrowing number of unwanted migrants who happen to pass through their countries on their journey to the West. These agreements result in the need for the young eastern democracies to rearm their police and military structures at heavy costs. The effects of this policy might soon prove to be desastrous not only for the fragile democracies in the East and Southeast, but as well for stability and peace in the whole of Europe. Western Europe is acting like the house owner who discovers a time-bomb filled with toxic gas in his home and castle and, instead of disarming it, throws it over his neighbour's fence, hoping that gas respects fences...