Afghanistan: EU cannot ‘just follow America’ says Greek MP
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The former Greek finance minister lashed out against the bloc on Twitter as Greece decided to extend its border wall to deter Afghans from trying to reach Europe. He raged: “The EU’s (crocodile) tears over the victims of the Taliban are stemmed at its Greek border, by a horrific fence.”
As a Remainer tried to convince him this was not a decision taken by the whole bloc but just Greece, Mr Varoufakis replied: “I wish you were right. No, it is a Brussels-Paris-Berlin sanctioned cowardly fortress policy.”
The Twitter user added: “It just makes more sense to me, to be in the EU and working to reform, rather than being on the outside.”
To which the Greek politician replied: “I need no convincing.
“I have witnessed first hand the nastiness with which EU institutions defended the worst bankers against Europe’s citizens.
“And still campaigned against Brexit!
“Similarly, as a Remainer you must condemn the EU’s callous refugee policies.”
EU leaders are already locking horns over a new wave of migrants expected to arrive in Europe from Afghanistan, as people fee from the Taliban.
Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is opposing taking in any more people fleeing Afghanistan now that the Taliban have seized power, he said in remarks published on Sunday.
Austria took in more than one percent of its population in asylum seekers during Europe’s migration crisis in 2015 and 2016, and Mr Kurz has built his career on taking a hard line on immigration, winning every parliamentary election since 2017.
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While the European Union grapples with what to do with Afghans who assisted it over the past 20 years, Mr Kurz said coming to Austria was not an option.
“I am clearly opposed to us now voluntarily taking in more people and that will not happen during my chancellorship,” Mr Kurz said in an interview with TV channel Puls 24. Excerpts of the interview were released before it was broadcast later on Sunday.
Austria has more than 40,000 Afghan refugees, the second-biggest number in Europe after Germany, which has 148,000, according to data from the UN refugee agency UNHCR for 2020. Austria’s population is nine times smaller than Germany’s.
Austria is also a neutral country and not a member of NATO.
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It sent only a very small number of troops to Afghanistan.
“I am not of the opinion that we should take in more people. Quite the opposite,” the Austrian Chancellor said of Afghans fleeing their country.
“Austria has made a disproportionately large contribution,” he added, referring to the large number of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers already in the country.
He said people fleeing Afghanistan should stay in the region, adding that neighbouring Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan had only taken in 14 and 13 Afghan refugees respectively, which matches the UNHCR data.
Last week, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said that his country could not become the entry point into the European Union for Afghans fleeing the escalating conflict in their homeland.
Greece was on the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015 when nearly one million people fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan landed on its islands, and like other EU member states, it is nervous developments in Afghanistan could trigger a replay of that crisis.
“We are clearly saying that we will not and cannot be the gateway of Europe for the refugees and migrants who could try to come to the European Union,” Mr Mitarachi told state television ERT.
“We cannot have millions of people leaving Afghanistan and coming to the European Union … and certainly not through Greece,” he said.
Echoing his concerns, French President Emmanuel Macron said France should have a robust plan to “anticipate and protect itself from a wave of migrants” from Afghanistan.
“Dealing with those fleeing the Taliban would need an organised and fair international effort,” the French President said in a televised address last Tuesday.
He added: “Europe alone cannot assume the consequences of the current situation.”
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