MEP urges bigger EU states to act on migration

MEP Alfred Sant delivers scathing attack on larger EU member states for not recognizing migration as a Europe-wide issue and urges immediate action to remove the burden from smaller, southern member states

MEP and former prime Alfred Sant has said that migration is a Europe-wide issue and that as such it shouldn’t be parcelled off to smaller southern states to find a solution.

Speaking to Greek TV station ALPHA, Sant urged bigger countries to come up with a solution that would be implemented by everybody.

“Right now Greece is at the forefront, but Malta and Italy could come back to the fore overnight, if refugees begin to travel through unstable Libya, for instance,” he said, stressing that this made European action necessary.

“Europe needs to get the top players together to take the right and necessary action... We can’t have Germany pushing one way, France pushing the other way, Italy not being in the picture and then small countries like Greece, Malta and Bulgaria having to carry the burden,” Sant said.

Sant said there is no good faith in Europe on this question, with people being pushed away from Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.

“The whole point is whether there can be a European solution to this. But in order to have a European solution, there has to be good faith between north and southern states,” he said, expressing doubt that these feelings were present.

“This is a political problem. I come from a Mediterranean island myself, so I can understand the problems that Greek islands are facing with this huge influx of people coming over.”

Sant added that people need assistance and to be organised and that it was not possible to achieve such things “overnight” in small islands. He explained that time and resources were necessary to make achievements in small islands.

Sant said Greece and Turkey, both allies within NATO, have complimentary interests on this issue. 

“Both are at the border, with Turkey bordering with Syria and Greece at the border of the EU.”

“The whole situation is going from bad to worse because there is no real plan, no real agreement on good faith within the EU. The Germans want something, the Austrians want something else and the Italians want something else still – everybody wants something different,” he said, adding that the only consensus was that all countries want refugees outside their system.

Sant recalled that seven years ago nobody had listened to Malta when refugees, crossing from north Africa were stopping in Malta and Lampedusa.

“This is the real problem in Europe; people do not want to deal with it if it is in somebody else’s backyard. They only care when its their problem,” he reiterated.

Stressing the need to orgamise the refugee system, Sant said that the Dublin 2 agreement means that theoratically when people come to Greece as refugees, they have to stay in Greece. Calling the system “crazy,” Sant lamented the fact that the regulation had still not been changed, and he urged Europe to take action.

“Shifting the blame to Greece about these unmanageable numbers is just another way to cover the real problem – that is, the lack of a real plan or solidarity, if you prefer,” he said.

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