‘Europe lacks vision & leadership to address migration’ – Italian ex-FM to RT

The EU left Italy to deal with the refugee crisis alone “for many years” before realizing it was a pan-European issue, Franco Frattini, Italy’s former foreign minister who has also served as European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security, told RT.

Dealing with the EU’s immigration policies was part of Frattini’s job on the European Commission. He said powerful members of the alliance like Germany were reluctant to speak out against the status quo.

“The situation was not changing at all through the years. Then suddenly [they] realized that migration is a European issue, not a Sicilian or Italian or Greek. They realized [that there were] Balkan routes. At that moment they said: ‘Oh! We need border sharing, we need a distribution, we need to block our external borders,’” he said.

Frattini said that, during his tenure as a European Commissioner, he had suggested measures to make the EU’s borders more secure, but they were rejected.

“President of the European Commission [Jean-Claude] Juncker said a few days ago, ‘Frattini’s plan was never adopted; we need to re-propose it now ten years later.’ I’m not saying this to say I was good. But unfortunately Europe is lacking vision and leadership to address migration,” he said.

Now the problem has grown into one of the most important issues facing the EU, Frattini said. Attitudes towards refugees is now a key factor in elections all across Europe.

“In France, Marine Le Pen wants to get votes on [the refugee issue] and the government is rejecting it. Germany is going to election. This is one of the most important points at stake. The rightists are getting votes in all the regional elections in Germany on this. Austria will likely vote for an anti-migrant president, again on this. They close the border between Austria and Italy for weeks and months on this!” he said.

Frattini also spoke to RT about the ongoing stand-off in Syria, where the violence has continued since the US broke off cooperation with Russia on a ceasefire and is reportedly considering attacking Syrian government forces.

The former minister said the current wave of confrontational rhetoric is unlikely to lead to any breakthrough in Syria, and that the key players must cooperate and compromise to find a meaningful solution to the crisis.

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“Some years ago, [US] President [Barack] Obama made a formal proposal to the European allies to go to war against Assad. And he realized even his closest ally, [then-UK Prime Minister David] Cameron, did not find a majority in the House of Commons. And the proposal has been withdrawn,” Frattini said.

“Then we moved from the failed proposal to go to war to an opposite proposal – to cooperate on Assad to dismantle [the Syrian] chemical arsenal. Russia, the East, Europe agreed, and it was the only successful example of cooperation since the beginning of the crisis in Syria. So my moral is: cooperation – success; fighting, confrontation, threats – failure.”