Europe offloading human rights duties onto non-EU states, says think tank

© Alkis Konstantinidis
Europe is outsourcing its human rights obligations to non-EU states as it seeks to militarize the Mediterranean and deliver a backward and inhumane response to the global refugee crisis, campaigners have warned.

EU leaders organized the summit with Turkey in a bid to cope with the worsening global refugee crisis. The Brussels talks were extended into a working dinner as discussions got underway on Monday morning. 

Speaking ahead of the summit, activists branded it regressive. They said immigration policy must be radically reformed in Europe, with a focus on the free movement of people, curbing global inequality, halting climate change and undercutting poverty.
London-based think tank Global Justice Now (GJN) said the summit would result in backward policy-building.

GJN said backward measures include paying a “brutal” Turkish government to stop refugees from entering Europe and militarizing the Mediterranean Sea despite the serious human rights consequences. GJN also predicted the further destabilization of debt-shackled Greece, currently subject to a crippling Troika (EU-EC-IMF) economic program.

Speaking on Monday, Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said Europe is attempting to offload its global responsibilities onto non-EU states.

“It’s obscene that one of the richest parts of the world, which continues to grow wealthy from the resources of other countries, is contracting out its human rights duties to poorer countries,” he said.

“Turkey is conducting a brutal war on its Kurdish population and cracking down on any form of dissent. It is unconscionable that we would give billions of pounds to this government to offload our responsibilities.”

Dearden said EU leaders should not expect Greece to offer shelter to international refugees.

“Greece is reeling from economic depression, created by policies dreamt up in Western Europe and then ruthlessly imposed. We now expect Greece to stand alone in dealing with the many people seeking refuge on our continent,” he said.

“The militarization of the Mediterranean Sea is one more aspect of the creation of a gated community for the richest part of the world. We have reached the limit of how much a small elite can drain the rest of the world for their own profit.”

“This is a wake-up call. We must not bury our head in the sand as our democracy is eroded. We need urgent and radical policies to tackle inequality, poverty and climate change.”

Dearden went on to argue that European proposals for addressing the global refugee crisis are not fit for purpose.

“British and European proposals are inhumane and backward-looking; the very opposite of what a modern response to people’s movement needs to look like,” he said.

“One of the greatest achievements of the EU is freedom of movement. This cannot be a right which only applies to the most wealthy people in the world.”

“We need to begin opening our borders to people, creating a world where everyone can enjoy a basic standard of living, wherever they are born, regardless of what passport they possess. Unless we do so, our democracy will disintegrate.”

Over 2,000 migrants, primarily from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, arrive each day in Turkey and Greece. The Idomeni crossing on the Greece-Macedonia border, which is used by many migrants, has become a focus of concern among EU leaders.

The EU is demanding a lot from Turkey, with Ankara ramping up its demands in return. Observers note it is ironic that the fate of the EU’s migration policy lies in the hands of a Turkish government that had been kept out of the EU for years.

In the absence of Turkish co-operation, the flow of refugees and migrants arriving in the Greek islands cannot be curbed. And without this progress at least, other EU policy proposals unravel fast.
A spokesman for Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed on Monday afternoon that Turkey will present EU leaders with new proposals that go further than previous Ankara offers.

Although he didn’t offer clarity on the planned measures, he is expected to lobby for additional infrastructure funding, funding for the softening of visa restrictions, funding for health and education refugee projects, and more progress on Turkey’s EU membership status.