Did you say 'deal' on migration? ... or was it 'meal'?

Yet we still blame asylum seekers – and only asylum seekers – for a crisis brought on directly by the incompetence, nonchalance, and sheer ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude of the politicians we rely on to solve all our migration and national security problems (but who are really the cause of all these problems to begin with)

Remember how, just a few weeks ago, Malta awoke to news that European ministers had brokered a ‘deal’ on a new ‘migrant disembarkation and relocation system’?

I guess not, huh. Well, it happened; and here is how it was announced on 23 September: “An agreement on a set of ‘predictable and structural’ arrangements for the disembarkation and relocation of migrants has been reached between four countries on the frontline of the Mediterranean migration […]

“Born out of a Ministerial Meeting on Migration held in Malta, the agreement sees four frontline countries; Malta, Italy, France, and Germany, agree on a common paper on the issue of the disembarkation and relocation of migrants rescued at sea…”

I thought I’d remind you all, because some of the estimated 1,200 asylum seekers currently residing at the Hal Far tent village – where last Sunday’s riots broke out – arrived in Malta after that announcement was made: and therefore, by rights, should have been among the migrants already ‘relocated’ under this new system.

But… um… we can all see that they’re still here. Just as we can all see how not a single one of the asylum seekers currently in Malta – regardless when or how they got here – has been relocated to any other EU member state since September 23.

Not, mind you, that we really needed such trifling details, to work out that this celebrated ‘deal’ was all along nothing but a figment of certain European ministers’ imagination.

Barely two weeks later – on 8 October – Malta awoke to a very different announcement. According to press reports: “An attempt by four countries, including Malta, to encourage other EU member states to take a share of migrants rescued from the Central Mediterranean has so far failed to reach agreement…”

You will surely notice a small change in the wording now used to describe this celebrated ‘deal’. Two weeks earlier, it had been presented as an agreement that had already been reached. German interior minister Horst Seehofer had said: “I am very satisfied that we have indeed reached a regulation agreement for emergency rescue…”

His French counterpart Christophe Castaner added: “Today we have reached an agreement – this is just the first stop but it is an agreement which collected our four countries concerned with immediate solutions.”

And our very own Joseph Muscat had tweeted: “The #MaltaMigrationMeeting achieved progress with a blueprint that can serve as basis for redistribution of #migrants…”

Fast forward a few weeks, and it is pitifully obvious that, in reality, no ‘progress’ at all has been achieved towards a new relocation system for migrants. The same 8 October article continues: “Despite a marathon three-hour lunch on Tuesday…”

Wait, let me repeat that: “Despite a marathon three-hour LUNCH on Tuesday, during which the crisis was discussed, no other country signed up to the temporary scheme mooted by Malta, Italy, Germany and France […]

“Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg and Finland are reportedly considering it but only if others sign on and as long as it does not include quotas for how many migrants each country would host.

“Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary and the Netherlands are opposed or extremely reluctant to join the scheme…”

And there you have it. Instead of finally taking action on an issue that has already cost thousands of human lives in the Mediterranean, and which now threatens to spill out into further bloodshed locally (one African immigrant has already been murdered in cold blood, in case we’ve all forgotten)… Europe’s Interior Ministers were all stuffing their faces at a ‘three-hour marathon lunch’.

And while they were collectively pigging out at a restaurant somewhere in Brussels… asylum seekers detained in at least one European state were busy setting fire to their mattresses and throwing stones at the police – which later escalated to torching cars and buildings – in protest against the conditions of their detention (which, as previous riots have indicated, also includes food quality.)

In other words, what European interior ministers actually agreed on in Brussels was not a ‘deal’ at all… but a ‘meal’. For themselves. At the European taxpayer’s expense…

Well, what can I say? I hope they ate well, at least. I hope Europe’s Interior Ministers feasted to their hearts’ content on oysters and caviar, all washed down with the finest of French wines. And I suppose they must have, too… given that they clearly had their mouths far too full to actually discuss anything of any substance at all.

It almost reminds me of those old Italian pasta ads on TV: ‘Silenzio, parla Agnesi.’ When the food is good, and the wine flowing… one doesn’t work up much of an appetite to discuss serious European issues, which are having a seriously detrimental effect of national security in European member states. (No, not even when the job of a European interior minister is actually to address security issues… and certainly not to ‘have lunch’).

Meanwhile, it seems that the wine served up at this marathon EU pie-eating contest must have been pretty heady stuff, too… considering that by the time the meal was over, some of the diners evidently forgot what they had told us just four weeks earlier.

Let’s go back to that 23 September press conference, here in Malta. German Minister Seehofer had said: “We are inviting other member states to come on board with this agreement.” We were also told that: “A common paper drawn up at the meeting will be presented in Luxembourg on 8 October during a Council meeting for Home Affairs. The paper will be presented to the Interior Ministers of the other 24 member states…”

And yet – emerging from what turned out to be a marathon face-stuffing event instead – European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos told journalists that Member States were “not asked to make any commitment”.

Erm… sorry, but wasn’t that the whole point of the 8 October meeting in the first place? To ask for an international commitment to the ‘deal’ agreed in Malta two weeks before?

That is certainly what we had been told; and that is how it was reported in all local newspapers. Yet now they tell us that this ‘deal’ wasn’t even presented to the rest of the 24 European interior ministers for their approval. All those dissenting countries I mentioned above –

“Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands, etc.” – they weren’t even asked to sign up to it at all.

So… um… what did Avramoupolus find this time to ask them, in between forkfuls of whatever he ordered from the set menu? Let me guess: ‘Pass the salt?’, perhaps? Or: ‘Can you catch the waiter’s eye, because my wine-glass is almost empty…?’

OK, by now you will have worked out that I am extremely pissed off about this latest, farcical disappointment. Not just because it is, to my mind, downright criminal to lie so baldly to a country like that – to deliberately raise expectations for a breakthrough on this seemingly insoluble problem… only to later turn around and say, “That? Oh, that was just [burp!] an excuse for us to all get together for a good, slap-up meal… why, you didn’t really think [hic!] we were being serious about ‘agreeing on a deal’, did you? And now, if you don’t mind, I have another restaurant to go to…”

No, there is another, far weightier reason for my off-pissedness. It’s because of how we always react to this kind of development: how we never vent any of our (entirely justified) frustration on the people who truly deserve to taste our anger – i.e., the European Commissioners and/or Interior Ministers, who not only lie directly to our faces, but also make an open spectacle of their utter disdain for the devastating effects of their own apathy and greed – but how we always somehow always take it out on the victims of this appalling, criminal behaviour instead.

Poor, homeless African people. That’s who we blame for Europe’s complete and utter failure to ever treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. Those are the people we threaten to punish, imprison or deport – if not actually kill, ‘Hitler-style’ – and not the ones who are directly responsible for the fact that they are even here at all.

This is, indeed, the crowning irony of the entire situation: the ‘cherry’, as it were, on the ‘cake’ that Europe’s Interior Ministers probably ordered for dessert.

A great many of those poor, homeless African people we all blame for the crisis wouldn’t, in fact, ‘be here at all’… if European ministers actually did the job we pay them to do, instead of wining and dining themselves silly at every conceivable opportunity.

Some of those asylum seekers would already have been relocated elsewhere, if European ministers actually bothered themselves with ‘deals’ instead of ‘meals’. And none of them would pose even a fraction of the ‘threat’ so many people seem to think they pose… if there really was “a set of ‘predictable and structural’ arrangements for the disembarkation and relocation of migrants”, of the kind we were told was already ‘agreed to’ on September 23.

Yet we still blame asylum seekers – and only asylum seekers – for a crisis brought on directly by the incompetence, nonchalance, and sheer ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude of the politicians we rely on to solve all our migration and national security problems (but who are really the cause of all these problems to begin with).

And if that doesn’t piss you off, too… well, not that it’s any of my business, but I’d recommend visiting a doctor. You might have a bladder problem…

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