Summit Europe-Africa on immigration problem: political statements and action plan by 2016

  • 28 November 2015

On 11 and 12 November, in La Valletta, over sixty Heads of State and Government of European and African countries gathered for a summit on the issue of immigration. This summit was, in fact, organized by the European Union to tackle the immigration emergency in cooperation with the countries of origin in Africa. On this summit, the EU was represented by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
The purpose of the this meeting is to strengthen cooperation on migration and choose how to face the current challenges and opportunities.
During the opening speech of the summit Donald Tusk said: “As you know this meeting was suggested after the tragedy on 19 April, when hundreds of people lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea. This called on us to increase our efforts to try to stop such things from happening. The European Union took on the heavy responsibility of trying to save as many lives as possible. But this is dealing only with the symptoms”. As a result ” The only way we can manage migration is by working together. Our purpose today is to agree a joint approach and concrete steps so that migration becomes fruitful exchange between our peoples, and not a tragic loss to all. We have a joint responsibility, and we must deliver on it in partnership and solidarity. That is why we are here. ”
The conference is part of the path traced by the cooperational processes already underway between Europe and Africa, in particular the processes of Rabat and Khartoum on migration and the EU-Africa dialogue on migration and mobility.
“Europe is taking its responsibility – saving lives, welcoming refugees and those entitled to international protection, offering more organised routes for legal migration, and dismantling criminal organisations,” said Tusk.
“We need our African partners to help us better address our common challenges. We have no choice but to be partners in this” said Donald Tusk.
“One of the strengths of our partnership is that we can have open and honest conversations about even difficult subjects. We have these within the EU all the time. Migration is a sensitive political topic within and amongst the EU Member States, as I am sure it is among African states too. But we have to discuss it to find the right way forward for all of us”.
In the words of Tusk there is the realization that “migration creates both challenges and opportunities and it affects us all – countries of origin, transit and destination. The number of people on the move globally has never been so big. Both Africa and Europe are put under heavy pressure trying to manage the scale and its effects on local communities”.
The decision to meet with the African leaders had been taken last April, when the Heads of State and Government of the EU had participated in a special Council meeting after yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean. Since then, the emergency has shifted to the EU’s eastern borders, the so-called Balkan route, but flows from Africa will remain consistent in the future, while those from the East depend on the crisis in Syria. According to the latest statistics, reported by the Tusk, about 1.2 million migrants have entered Europe illegally so far this year, mostly by sea.
President Tusk said that ” Firstly, one of our biggest responsibilities is to address the root causes of the movements we are seeing. It is our job, as leaders, to ensure that people do not feel the need to risk their lives to achieve their aspirations. Security and opportunity are things that Europe and Africa already work on together” said Tusk.
As a consequence, ” This means making our extensive development assistance more efficient, more targeted; creating more opportunities for young people to work. It also means stepping up our efforts to prevent and stop conflicts, and to help countries build systems of government that are accountable and open, that reinforce the rule of law, that respect human rights”.
President Tusk continued its analysis of the situation: “Secondly, people’s aspirations and needs have to be met first and foremost at home. Legal migration can offer opportunities for some, but not for all. Routes for legal migration to Europe should remain open; mobility between our continents is a driver for growth on both sides”.
The analysis of Tusk ends with the need for urgent action, ” to prevent the trafficking of human beings and the illegal smuggling of migrants by criminal gangs whose only motive is their own profit.”
An aspect that the President of the European Council mentioned in the summit is the need to handle even the refugees and asylum seekers. “The EU and African countries have a history of protecting those entitled to international protection. We are ready to step up our support to you to help you deal with the displaced persons within Africa. At the same time, we will continue to offer international protection to those entitled to it ” he concludes.
Tusk “proper return and readmission of those not entitled to international protection is essential. This is an international norm, and a responsibility of states to citizens. To keep the doors open for refugees and legal migrants, irregular migrants should be returned effectively and quickly. Voluntary return is always preferable. But when it is not possible, non-voluntary return is a pre-requisite for a well-managed migration policy. And once returned, we must all work together to reintegrate these people and provide them with the means to meet their aspirations”.
Claude Juncker, regarding the relocation of migrants, is a bit pessimistic. The process has been slow and, at current rates, with 130 refugees redistributed in about a month from Italy and Greece to the rest of the European countries, “the relocation of 160 thousand persons decided by the EU will be completed on Jan. 1, 2101,” said the European Commission President at the end of the informal summit of EU leaders ended in Valletta.
Juncker said that he was “totally dissatisfied” by the pace of operations even though none of the Member States today, “questioned the need to proceed with this system.”
A first important step was the signing between the European Union and Ethiopia of a joint declaration on joint management of migration, which reflects “the importance of Ethiopia as a key country of origin, transit and destination of irregular migrants and refugees from the Horn of Africa to Europe.”
The cooperation will cover the issues of international protection needs of migrants, legal migration and mobility, irregular migration, human trafficking, development policies. They will be made available funds for the implementation of concrete activities, through the “trust fund” emergency in which the Commission has already allocated 1.8 billion.
“Ethiopia is the main host country of refugees in Africa – said Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker – with 733,000 refugees. His government needs and deserves the support of EU. Ethiopia is also a country of origin and transit of illegal immigration in Europe: we need to work together to better manage these flows in respect for human rights “.
The elements of the Action Plan, political declaration stated on La Valletta summit, are designed to:
– One, address the root causes of migration;
– Two, enhance cooperation on legal migration and mobility;
– Three, reinforce protection of displaced persons;
– Four, prevent and fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings;
– Five, advance on returning persons that are not entitled to stay in Europe.
Those are the goals. What is equally, or maybe even more important, is that we have agreed a long list of very concrete actions to be implemented by the end of 2016”. said the Prime Minister European.
Among these actions there is the start of some projects to increase employment opportunities in the regions of origin and transit countries in East, North and West Africa. It’s plan to encourage the Erasmus program, doubling the number of scholarships for students and researchers. Until the half of 2016 will also realise regional protection programs and development programs in the Horn of Africa and North Africa. To prevent and fight smuggling and trafficking of migrants will be set up a joint investigation team in Niger, which, if it will prove useful, will can use in other countries or regions.
As far as concerned the question of voluntary returns, they will be encouraged through a series of concrete measures, such as officials trips to Europe of African immigration that help to verify and identify the nationality of illegal migrants.
To help the agreement, also, it was created the EU Trust Fund with a budget of at least EUR 1.8 billion, in addition to development aid from the EU and the Member States for countries Africans, for twenty billion per year.
” We are under no illusions that we can improve the situation overnight. But we are committed to giving people alternatives to risking their lives,” concludes Tusk.
The Commission has made available for the African continent one billion and eight hundred million Euros, through the Trust Fund. This is a financial instrument that should address the root causes of economic migration and support twenty-three countries of origin and transit in the Sahel, the African Horn and North Africa. The Brussels executive asked to the twenty-eight European governments (and the EU partners) contributions to double the amount made available by the Community budget, but despite the promises made at the top of September and October, the member states have offered until today only a little over 81.2 million. Therefore it needs more than 1.7 billion target of 3.6 billion totals.
About the Trust Fund for Syria so far they have been mobilized 40.48 million of euros by the states and 500 by the Commission, but the goal is to reach one billion euro in aid.
Humanitarian aid is quite complete: the twenty-eight States arrived 442,740 million, EU gave 500 million. So there are missing only 57, 26 million. For Africa they have so far made payments 25 Member States on 28 and two space EFTA countries (Norway and Switzerland).
But there have been negative reactions to the decisions taken at the summit in Malta. Some non-governmental organizations and human rights groups argue that financial contributions are only promised as a reward for repressive policies that block migration at source. They said, that this kind of cooperation is a plan to exploits to third countries border control on outsource. In this summit there were some dictators of this Countries, The ONGs denounced that a dictators are the main cause of the abuses that force people to flee.
ONGs protest also concerning the risk to support security policies in the countries of origin of migrants, implementing border controls and methods of deterrence, while the real problem is not addressed faces is how to get there, safely, people in Europe.
The choice to make readmission agreements to these countries and for Europe is considered “democratic enough” was denounced by ONGs. Some countries have democratic deficits, as Eritrea -that is on trial for crimes against humanity-, as Sudan -currently under a military dictatorship-, as Ethiopia -where the government still govern with the use of force and the persecution of opponents-, and as Somalia -without a central government and which is considered one of the most violent states and the world’s poor.

Foreign Fighters: Algeria is the most virtuous country among those of North Africa

  • 19 November 2015

In the last decade the violence caused by Islamic extremists hit the North African countries. among those, Algeria, governed by the President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, remained impervious to infiltration of foreign groups, managing to isolate the jihadi terrorism.
Mohamed Talbi, Director General of the Civil Liberties and Legal Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior has declared that Algeria is “less affected”, compared to neighbouring countries, by the phenomenon of recruitment of young people in international terrorist organizations.
According to Talbi they are “less than a hundred” young Algerians who have joined extremist groups abroad. The government official explained that was established at the ministry of defences’ mechanism for the exchange of information between institutions involved in combating terrorism and, thus, prevent the indoctrination of youth.
” This mechanism identifying passageways showed positive and encouraging ”, assured Talbi, adding that the recruitment of young people, which defines ” victims ‘‘in need of protection, ‘‘are mainly on social networks and this is a problem for society as a whole ”. ” That’s why Algeria has recently strengthened the online monitoring system ”, he said Talbi still announcing ” positive and encouraging results by controlling the communications of recruiters who live abroad ”.
As for the legislation, Talbi has proposed changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow the competent authorities, especially the judiciary, to be more effective in combating the online recruitment. As for fundraising in mosques, which has considerable sums, (between the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 were collected about 51 million euro) shows the importance of traceability of funds ”, said Talbi ensuring, however, that the issue is ” under control ”, stressing that the Algerian authorities have sent to the mosques ” very strict instructions on fundraising ”.
Algeria is a country that has known in the past the violence of the attacks. In fact between 1991 and 1999 the country was torn apart by a civil war between the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and the nationalists of the National Liberation Front (FLN). In the aftermath of the presidential elections of 1991, when the government refused to recognize the surprising victory of the radical leader Abbassi Madani, he was born the Armed Islamic Movement (Mia) for work of Mansour Meliani and Abdelhak, a terrorist group which came together the veterans of war in Afghanistan and trained in the camps on the border with Pakistan (many of them built by the Americans in an anti-Soviet). Allied with the FIS in the fight against the Algerian nationalists, the MIA organized a series of attacks inside and outside national borders as long as the two movements were not definitively eradicated from the country in an eight-year civil war which killed about 60 thousand people.
With the election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 1999 – leading heir to a current nationalist and anti-colonialist who formed a government of national reconciliation in a short time he managed to carve out a leading role in the entire region – Algeria had failed to end the conflict and lead a war relentlessly radical Islamism jihadi through a strong militarization of the area.

The Turkish general election: Erdogan’s AKP wins outright majority

  • 7 November 2015

The Turkish people decided, through the elections held on 1 November 2015, to confirm the confidence to Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The stalemate following the elections of 7 June imposed the return to the vote. Last June, for the first time since 2002, the AKP President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to obtain the majority needed to govern alone. The negotiations to form a coalition executive concluded unsuccessfully and  Erdogan decided to call early elections.

The appeal to the stability of the Turkish president has also convinced a bit of the nationalist electorate and allowed AKP party the return to absolute majority, lost in June. The AKP stood at 49.4%, bringing the party to the  percentages levels record of 2011.

Erdogan’s party promises to drive Turkey for the next four years and won 316 seats out of 550, achieving an absolute majority and exceeding all expectations, including those of the polls are more favourable.

The result reached by the AKP makes award to this party a number of seats higher than those required to obtain an absolute majority (276). However this number is insufficient to the constitution amendment, for which is necessary qualified majority of 330 seats. The Turkish Parliament  is, in fact, composed by 550 seats and to form a government it takes at least 276. With a qualified majority of two thirds (367 seats) it’s possible to change the Constitution. However, if a constitutional reform is rated by at least 330 deputies, it can subsequently be approved by a popular referendum.

Erdogan has interest in changing the Constitution in presidential sense, in other words, do not let the president plays a role purely symbolic and marginal in political decisions. The project will be, in fact, to invest the President of the executive.

Erdogan, as a consequence, didn’t remain on the margins of the political scene in the weeks before the vote and he actively participated in the election campaign, in clear violation of electoral rules.

On balance, the game played by Erdogan with the return to the polls was the right choice. In the five months between a vote and the other, Turkey it is plunged into chaos. It brought the country to restore control by the only way to recover the lost stability, the elections. The majority of Turkish decided to do it. This consensus results also from the collapse of the nationalist party and from the success of the strategy of tension, that many observers attributed to Erdogan after the June vote.

“The national will is manifested in favor of stability. Now a party with about 50% in Turkey has gained power, this should be respected by the whole world, but I have not seen this maturity” so far. These are the first words of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after winning the general elections.

The party of Erdogan, since the last elections in June 2015 gained nine percentage points, almost three and a half million votes, breaking twenty-three million share.

The pro-Kurdish party, HDP,  managed once again to enter parliament passing the record electoral threshold of 10% , but it lost a million votes compared to June. The HDP lost almost 3%, from 13% to 10.4%, and decreased from eighty members to 59, but it becomes the third largest party after the collapse of the nationalist MHP, which stops at 41 deputies.

Almost nothing changes for the social democratic party, CHP, once again forced to the opposition: with 25.4% and two seats earned, compared to June (134), it confirms as the second biggest party in Turkish parliament.

The election results, however, has not satisfied all of the Turkish population. In the southeast of Turkey, were Kurdish are predominant, in fact, exploded the rage for an unexpected result that breaks the dream to stop the Erdogan march. While the counting of votes was still in progress, in Diyarbakir, Kurdish protesters have erected barricades and burnings, there were clashes with police, who responded with tear gas and a strong repression of the protests.

These guerrilla actions could become common in the near future, if the President decides to not confirmed to change strategy against the Kurds. It is alarming that in the last three months of the war against the PKK, over 150 soldiers and two thousands of Kurdish fighters have already died. The fear, as a result of these events, is that now the guerrillas can move steadily in urban centres.

Another accident, to be clarified – the explosion of a transformer – in Nusaybin, in Mardin province, in the south-east of Turkey also, caused numerous injuries. The explosion caused a fire and damaged buildings and shops. It is still unclear if this was an accident or an attack pro-Kurdish. As a consequence of the protest after the vote result, the wounded were taken to hospital, while the police, with water cannons, came to the area to extinguish the flames.

Analysing entirely the Turkish vote, an information still seems incontrovertible: the vote participation arrived to the extraordinary rate of 86,76% of those eligible, when 54 million voters were called to the polls in an atmosphere of great tension and fear of fraud.

As far as concern female quotas, the results of the last vote resize greatly these quotas. Just five months ago, in fact, was registered a record number of 97 deputies. A decrease from 18% to 14% of the total number of deputies in Meclis, the Grand National Assembly in Ankara. Among the new female MPs, 32 were elected in the ranks of the AKP, 21 for the Social Democratic and Chp 19 for the pro-Kurdish HDP, which still remains the party with the highest percentage of female quotas on the total of his elect.

Finally, regarding the “geography of the vote” it can be seen as Members of Meclis, the Grand National Assembly, are elected by a proportional system in 85 districts. The map of the results shows as the country is divided in three parts.

On the Aegean coast and in Thrace the Republicans of CHP won. The Central Anatolia and the area of the Black Sea they are dominated by the AKP, instead in the south-east of the country, where Kurds are the majority, won the Kurds Party HDP. As a consequence Kurds party, albeit with a slightly less, get more seats than nationalists.

As far as concerned the Mediterranean country election, with a joint statement, the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, said that the high vote participation has “reaffirmed the strong commitment the Turkish people in favour of the democratic process. “

“We look forward to the results and preliminary conclusions of the work of the OSCE-ODIHR observers who will be presented the same day,” say Mogherini and Hahn also stressed that “the EU will cooperate with the future government (Turkish), in order to further strengthen the EU-Turkey and to continue to improve our cooperation in all areas for the benefit of all citizens. “