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“The political sensitivity of the migration subject in Europe has made it a weapon for its enemies”

Tannuity-two unhappy Afghans trapped for a month in the middle of nature, without shelter, on the edge of a no-man’s-land forest between Poland and Belarus, symbolize in themselves the impossible equation that Europe finds itself confronted with in this fall 2021. The Kafkaesque situation of these 32 migrants, of whom virtually nothing is known except that Belarusian soldiers guided them to the Polish border but do not want to let them return while Poland does not want to let them in, offers a concentrated multiple points of tension: Belarus and, behind it, Russia, the specter of a new migratory crisis, the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the protection of the borders of the European Union. Against the backdrop of the challenge of reconciling the management of these problems with the humanist values ​​that the same EU says it wants to defend.

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The precipitous departure of the Americans from Kabul poses two immediate questions for Europe. The first is its relationship with the United States, with the realization of its dependence on security and the determination of Washington to act only in its own interests. The second is that of the possibility of an exodus from Afghanistan.

The first question is not new. Afghanistan has, in a certain way, unraveled the Europeans: they now agree to set the terms of the debate, and in relative unanimity, which is already progress. But experience shows that it will take them some time to find the answer.

The political tide has turned

The second question is not really new either; it is, however, more urgent. Not that masses of Afghan refugees are marching, but the situation in the country is sufficiently unstable to have to consider the hypothesis. Above all, the memories of the Syrian refugee crisis of 2015 are still very fresh. On Friday September 3, when the Foreign Ministers of the Twenty-Seven met in Slovenia, Afghanistan, unsurprisingly, occupied most of their discussions: the need, first, to continue the evacuation of the Afghans. who could not leave on Western military flights. The fear of mass emigration, then.

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One element struck one of the participants at the end of the debate on this point: “Our state of mind has dramatically changed since 2015”, he tells us. The outpouring of generosity from countries that, like Germany and Sweden, opened their doors to Syrian refugees at the time, will not be repeated. The political wind has turned, the integration of refugees has required great efforts, tens of thousands of them, rejected, are still tossed from one country to another in the Schengen area in miserable conditions. The question of the distribution of refugees within the EU has deeply divided the Union; the wound is not completely healed, no one wants to reopen it.

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