Very different, we have countries in Europe like Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, Who refuse to take refugees. They say we are not responsible for what had happened in Syria and Libya. These refugees should go to those countries that are responsible. There are also countries like Italy, Greece and Spain, for example that provides very low accommodation and bad housing for refugees. These are countries that refugees really don’t like to stay in, so they cross these countries.
AhlulBayt News Agency - Refugee crisis, emerging from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, has imposed economical, cultural and security problems on neighboring and European countries. In order to shed lights on the dark sides of this thorny problem, the Alwaght news conducted an interview with Manuel Ochsenreiter, Editor in Chief of German monthly newsmagazine ZUERST.
What follows is the complete text of interview with the German investigative journalist writes on politics, German and European foreign policy and Middle East affairs.
Q: What threats and opportunities can refugees pose on Europe?
Manuel: Talking about refugees' crisis, first of all we have to make it clear that nobody on the world on his own becomes volunteer to become a refugee. We talk about people who left their houses, sometimes odyssey behind them and we see they mostly end up in Europe and particularly in Germany. European Union and Germany as a member are responsible for the refugee crisis. European Politics in Libya, Middle East, Support for Israel as well as support for terrorism in Syria, complete disintegration of Iraq and also the war against Afghanistan are the source of all of these crises.
In fact, these incidents originate from west, not Middle Eastern countries, like Iran. Iran has no responsibility and is in the zone of danger because of what is going on the country. It has to watch very carefully about what is going on around. But when it comes to Europe, it is only the matter of cost. So we can say what is happening to Europe today is like a geopolitical boomerang. You throw it and it comes back and hits you in the head when you don’t care. So right now west threw a boomerang at Bashar al Assad, and now it gets the refugee's crisis against its head.
The Risks are clear. There is an influx of Terrorism, an influx of criminals, an influx of people who are not refugees, who are coming for economic reasons, who take advantage of the crisis that is the point why we lost control in Germany. We have some 1.5 to 2 million refugees in Germany. We don’t know, our government has lost control, our authorities has lost control. We are right now just busy with emergency management. We are not managing the crisis; we are doing the very low emergency management.
Q: How do European Governments and people treat the refugees?
Manuel: Very different, we have countries in Europe like Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, Who refuse to take refugees. They say we are not responsible for what had happened in Syria and Libya. These refugees should go to those countries that are responsible. But, the problem is that they cannot shrink from their responsibilities. These countries are members of the European Union; when you are member of a gang, and your gang leader commits a crime, you are responsible too. You can’t leave the gang when without facing any repercussion.
There are also countries like Italy, Greece and Spain, for example that provides very low accommodation and bad housing for refugees. These are countries that refugees really don’t like to stay in, so they cross these countries.
In Europe We have in particular two countries which refugees want to go; Germany and Sweden. Because their treatment with refugees is the best and meets UN standards, but in Germany we cannot provide anymore services and that has nothing to do with the people or government, that’s simply too matter of lack of resources.
Regarding EU citizens treatment, again, we have people who are against this influx, we can simply label the as xenophobe; and on the other hand we have people who celebrate the entrance of the refugees, without taking into account why these people are coming. And we have people, like me, who criticize this influx of masses of refugees but anyway they help them. However it doesn’t mean that they hate refugees, rather they believe influx of refugee masses is wrong.
Q: Regarding recent refugee crisis, how do you see Turkey-EU relations?
Manuel: Turkey is now taking advantage from the refugee crisis, because turkey was active in Syrian crisis since 2011. Turkey is one of the aggressor countries. Turkey is hosting Syrian refugees since 2011 and is abusing them since that time .It uses them as political pressure. Hosting masses of [refugee] people, Turkey opens its gates to Europe from time to time to push the EU into negotiations. If you listen to comments of European leaders about Erdogan's leadership, they are all upset about him. They believe turkey lacks democracy, Human rights, civil rights, freedom of speech and freedom of press, but they still negotiate with him because Erdogan presses them with the refugees. The refugees are somehow his hostages. He made a deal and Angela Merkel actually negotiated this deal. They offered several billion Euros to Turkey, because refugees have costs, and something much more interesting, i.e. Visa free travel for Turkish Citizens to all over Europe! I think that Erdogan is going to use this visa free privilege, which gets into charge since first of June, in his war against Kurdish population, because Kurdish population are Turkish citizens. He might abuse the visa agreement to export his problem, that is Kurds. They are actually Turkish citizens under the free visa deal, the Kurds who are under pressure by Erdogan's government pressure will travel Europe. This way Erdogan would get rid of his problems, because Erdogan sees Kurds as his biggest problem! We have a lot of Kurdish communities in Europe, so refugee Kurds can already point locations where they can go.
In addition, according to reports from our analysts in Syria, for example in Aleppo, and also in Lebanon, Turkey was issuing Turkish passports for terrorists fighting in Syria, namely the Turkmen terrorists, they are also few Turkish Turan people, so they have right to apply for a passport. So with this influx the terrorist who are fighting and killing Syrian civilians can also come to Europe. So this is what we should also take to account when we speak about dangers and development of European-Turkish relations.
Q: What is your take on the way that Europe is dealing with terrorism as a threat?
Manuel: when it comes to the question of terrorism and political violence, Europe's reaction is in fact weird. For example in reaction to Paris attacks we had the martial law in France which was introduced and charged until today with some exceptions, and we had Germany which decided to join the US-led anti ISIS operation. So the question is how we can stop terrorism in Europe and how we can control terrorism in Europe by fighting in Syria. What we might do is a contradiction because we know that US-led anti-terror mission is different to the Russian anti-terror mission and its helping the terrorists, and were bombarding facilities of the Syrian army and civilian facilities and infrastructures under the pretext of depriving ISIS from using these facilities, that’s quiet cynical. For example, they bombarded some gas fields or gas pipelines with this justification.
Some analysts say that we should have enjoyed the summer 2015 because it was our last peaceful summer in Europe. When it comes to Syrian refugees and terrorism danger from their side, we shouldn't generalize that, it doesn't mean that all refugees are terrorists that is completely ridiculous to say something like this, but we have this problem that many people come to Germany who are no Syrians but they bought a Syrian passport for 20 to 30 Euros. They can buy Syrian passport in Turkey, the Balkans, Macedonia, Greece a Syrian ID just for 20 to 30 Euros. So Algerians, Libyans, Saudis, Yemenis and … are easily entering in the name of Syrians. Now I want to answer the second part of the question: How to face this problem? Its quiet easy: we would have to simply go to normal relations with Syrian government, of course legal Syrian government, and to send them the ID numbers and ask them to check the IDs. And when the Syrian government says us hay guys the owner of this passport number died in 1974 or you have sent us this passport ID 42 times. So they can check if these are really Syrians but for this we will need a diplomatic channel and cooperation, so this would be the first one, and we could separate the real refugees from those who take advantage of the situation. Second the Syrian government would be able to tell us be careful guys this is a criminal, this is a guy who was liberated by the terrorists from a prison in Raqqa for example. they could tell us who exactly these people are and we could work together against the threat but this is necessary that we start cooperating with Syria and other countries on the same level not like a colonial power towards a colony, not like the masters toward their servants.
Q: Is it possible for Europe to combat Terrorism more effectively and actively?
Manuel: the first part I said. The second part is of course is that Europe would have to do a lot of homework to secure this.NO1: They should ban all organizations in Europe which are in charge of supporting terrorism in foreign countries. Just in Germany we have many organizations collecting money for humanitarian aids that ends up in the hands al-Nusra Front and ISIS and so on. So that means we should ban these organizations and we should of course arrest those who are in charge.They are known by German government.
So as the first step, we should stop these European supports for terrorism inside and outside the Europe. Of course these organizations don’t say donate us money and we will buy an AK-47 for a fighter who will kill a civilian, rather they pretend it’s for humanitarian help, Islamic relief or whatever.
As the second step, the West should immediately stop all sanctions against countries that are fighting against terrorism on the ground, which includes Syria itself, Iran and Russia. The sanctions that I am very convinced that will be imposed the People's Republic of China in the future. If the West doesn't help these countries at least it shouldn’t create obstacles for them.
Thirdly, the West should pose sanctions against those who support terrorism namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf monarchies and of course also Israel. Israel for example treats al-Nusrah Front fighters in its hospitals that is a kind of support for terrorism.
Finally, it is necessary that Europe, after it managed to fight terrorism in Syria and in Iraq, would have the obligation to help rebuilding these countries because Europe helped destroying these countries. I'm not using the term reparation but I use the term help. I think Germany also should be in charge of helping. At least help with the housing of those refugees from Syria who want to go back because we cannot depopulate this country.
Q: What’s your point of view about the exit of Britain from the EU?
Manuel: I hope this to be the beginning of the end of the European Union!
Q: Why is US insisting on keeping Britain in the EU?
Manuel: because the US wants the EU to continue its existence, since this Union is the American proxy
Q: How do assess intensifying tensions between EU and Russia?
Manuel: It’s a really bad thing and is not in the interest of the EU, and the main country which is Germany, and the main tensions are between Germany and Russia. This sanctions are not in fact Germany’s sanctions on Russia but Germany’s sanctions on Germany, because our economy is suffering, and in long term our economy would be suffering more than Russia. We have 3,000 jobs in Germany depending on the business with Russia and Several thousand German companies who are operating in Russia. When we look more subtle we find that sanctions are more in the interest of US rather than Germany and it fits perfectly to the pattern of NATO, what Lord Ismay, first NATO Secretary General, said late in the 1950s: "the organization's goal was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down".
Q: will the West Continue its sanctions on Russia?
Manuel: Yes it looks like it will do, but we have the rising of awareness in Germany. People are worried because sanctions are hitting economy and the lives of the ordinary people, who worried about unemployment and economic problems. We hope during the next elections other parties who oppose the sanctions would become more powerful.
Although both sides are suffering, but Russia knows that in long term the West will suffer more. Russia is now reshaping its industry and economy. If you look, Iran suffered under the sanctions but there’s no doubt that Iran also took the opportunity to invest a lot on for example on education, and it started to develop itself in fields where it couldn’t import. The same for Syria. Syria is under long-term sanctions, and for example they are starting to develop their own computer programs, because they couldn’t simply download from google because of sanctions. The country that is under sanction can also get strengthened mentally and I think this is what we see in Iran.