The clash over the migration issue, and whichever decisions are taken to deal with it, will to a great extent affect the future of European unification. The European idea was built on the ashes of WWII, with the aim of transcending nationalist antitheses, and creating a sense of solidarity among the peoples that would prevail on the continent. That principle, upon which the European Union was founded, today is in danger of being blown to bits.
For quite a while, a clash has been evolving between two parallel worlds within Europe. On the one hand are the countries of the former Eastern bloc, where anti-migration, populist or even racist rhetoric prevails, and on the other hand are France, Germany, and the countries of the South, which are trying to shape a realistic policy to handle the migration issue.
Now, the climate of hysteria has crossed over to the other side of the alps, with the populist Italian government, Angela Merkel’s Bavarian partners, and the Visegrad Group raising walls to keep migrants out.
The result is that Germany, which shouldered the largest burden in the last wave of migration, is today confronting a political crisis, which can undermine the foundations of Europe.
Obviously, the solution is neither simple nor easy. Yet, it is necessary in order to preserve the liberal values that determine Europe’s course.
The closing of borders, and the military camps within and outside of Europe that have been discussed recently, are temporary solutions designed to contain, if possible, the political antitheses. An aging Europe, however, needs the revitalising blood of migrants, and not closed ghettos.
Naturally, moderation and logic are required, and not unchecked waves of migration. Greece and other countries of the South, which are on the front line of the pressing wave, with all the problems and dysfunctions, are trying to manage a situation that exceeds their capabilities. It is impermissible for them to remain alone and unaided.
Moreover, the solution is not to undermine the basic values of Europe, such as the free movement of people.
The extreme right that is emerging everywhere, and the unstable populists who promote a return to the impasse of nationalism, cannot be allowed to torpedo the future of the European idea – that is, if there are still leaders who believe in the future of Europe and can transcend policies of the moment and social pressures.