The mini-summit of states on the so-called Balkan migration route and the United Nations General Assembly both fell short of bringing about meaningful change regarding the universal problem of migration.
The real victims in all this – meaning the millions of people who have been uprooted (in many cases because of the power games being played by some of their host nations) – were nowhere to be seen or to be heard in New York and the Austrian capital. Their frustrations were expressed via mediators, using the language of diplomacy, a language that prohibits expressions of emotion and despair. It was lost in translation.
Recommendations and anxious calls made by the UN (an organization whose power has been compromised since its birth) and by the nations who have shouldered most of the burden, failed to strike a chord with the more trigger-happy who like to agree on temporary truces only to violate them shortly afterward. In truth, however, who among those who have been hit by the bombings in Aleppo or any other place in Syria is really convinced about the good intentions of Russia and Washington? And who is really convinced that Turkey’s military intervention is driven by some selfless purpose?
As for Europe, its long-absent unity and solidarity was, again, not found in Vienna. This is, after all, something that numerous meetings in Brussels (between nations that supposedly share the same values and principles) have failed to produce. The countries of Fortress Reason, as it were, were totally inflexible and refused to take in a single refugee (exhibiting that nationalist aggression that feeds bigots and xenophobes). They insist on treating their membership of a super-national bloc as a one-way relationship. They like to take but they are allergic to giving. But there is no union without giving.
The only comfort is Berlin’s reported intention to accept 500 refugees every month from Greece and Italy. This means that Greece has to wage a battle from a constantly deteriorating position. So far, only 4,000 people have been relocated, well below the target of 66,000. Meanwhile, of the 400 experts that were meant to work on the Greek islands, only 19 have arrived. Greece has little reason to believe that European solidarity will at some point come in a more clear or material fashion. And despite the fact that we seem to be locked in constant pre-election mode, which leaves little room for sober assessment, we must realize that when it comes to the migration issue, we shall all be judged: the Greek state as well as society. Every time a parents’ association threatens to block refugees and migrants from attending a local school, it is a loss for everyone.