Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (shown), who has been an outspoken opponent of efforts by European Union leaders to impose immigration quotas on EU members, told a forum of ethnic Hungarian leaders in Budapest on December 2 that Germany has made a “secret pact” with Turkey to take in as many as half a million people.
Orban said that the secret arrangement, which wasn’t part of a deal struck on November 29 between Turkey and the EU on curbing the flow of refugees into Europe, may be announced by Germany within days, reported Bloomberg News.
Bloomberg also cited a German government official, who requested anonymity because EU-Turkey talks are ongoing, who insisted that Orban’s claim that Germany made a secret deal with Turkey is false.
Within hours of reaching that agreement, in which the EU will pay Turkey three billion euros in return for their help in refugee control, Turkey arrested 1,300 Syrian, Afghan, Iranian, and Iraqi asylum seekers near Ayvacık, a Turkish town north of the Greek island of Lesbos, Reuters and the Associated Press reported.
During his Budapest talk, Orban said:
The issue [of resettlement] will be a hot potato in the coming period because even though this could be kept in a semi-secret state ... someone somewhere — I think in Berlin this week — will announce that 400,000-500,000 Syrian refugees could be brought straight from Turkey to the EU.
This nasty surprise still awaits Europeans.
A December 3 report in Britain’s Daily Express stated that the agreement that Orban referred to was reportedly presented at the November EU summit in Malta but was abandoned and not included in the EU-Turkey agreements because diplomats failed to gather sufficient support for it.
The Bloomberg report noted that EU President Jean-Claude Juncker met with the leaders of eight member states on the sidelines of the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels that began on November 29. An EU spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, told reporters on November 30 that the EU commission agreed to prepare a framework for a “voluntary scheme” to resettle refugees by December.
The Bloomberg report continued:
While some leaders, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have insisted Europe must honor its asylum commitments and want EU members to accept refugees according to binding quotas, others such as Orban reject immigration by Muslims and sealed off their borders with fences. Merkel also confirmed after the Brussels summit that she had met with seven other EU leaders to discuss a plan to settle refugees from Turkey.
On September 9, just two days after Orban criticized efforts by EU leaders to impose immigration quotas on member nations before the continent’s borders are made secure, Juncker, speaking in Strasbourg, France, asked members of the European Parliament to accept 160,000 migrants.
In his speech, Juncker proposed a more centralized approach to handling the refugee crisis, stating:
We need more Europe in our asylum policy. We need more Union in our refugee policy.
A true European refugee and asylum policy requires solidarity to be permanently anchored in our policy approach and our rules. This is why, today, the Commission is also proposing a permanent relocation mechanism, which will allow us to deal with crisis situations more swiftly in the future.
By “solidarity,” Juncker obviously meant a uniform, centrally controlled system throughout the EU for processing all asylum requests, thereby denying member states the right to accept or reject migrants who want to cross their borders.
Orban has been almost alone among EU leaders to have resisted this centralization. To help stem the tide of migrants, Hungary built a 110-mile-long fence along its border with Serbia.
One of the primary barriers to national sovereignty when EU nations try to secure their borders is the Schengen Agreement — a treaty signed in 1985 near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, by five of the ten member states of what was then called the European Economic Community. In 1990 the agreement was supplemented by the Schengen Convention, which effectively removed internal border controls. The Schengen Area, which consists of 26 countries, has become virtually a single state for international travel purposes. Border controls exist only for travelers entering and exiting the area, but there are no internal border controls.
It is well to recall that the sovereignty-destroying EU began as a so-called “economic” arrangement, much like NAFTA began in North America many years later. The internationalists on both sides of the Atlantic view regional economic integration as a stepping stone to political integration, and the internationalists in North America have never tired of forging a North American Union similar to the EU. They have also tried to impose something like the Schengen Agreement in North America. One such failed attempted was the rejected Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), which was founded in Waco, Texas, on March 23, 2005, by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and U.S. President George W. Bush.
In 2006, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs argued that the SPP was part of a plan to merge the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a North American Union similar to the European Union. Multiple articles published by The New American and by its affiliated organization, The John Birch Society, made exactly the same point.
Although those seeking to establish the SPP eventually allowed the plan to die, the idea itself never died. On February 4, 2011, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Obama announced a new security and prosperity initiative with plans to “pursue a perimeter approach to security in ways that support economic competitiveness, job creation, and prosperity.”
With the Syrian refugee crisis that has plagued Europe since 2011 now becoming a matter of concern for the United States, it is fortunate that the SPP was rejected and that the United States still has the power to control its own borders (though, if the porous nature of our southern border is any indication, not very effectively). Last month, when Sweden found it necessary to reintroduce border controls to stem the uncontrolled flow of migrants entering the nation, it was forced by Schengen Agreement rules to limit those controls to two months, after which they must open the borders again.
Under the rules, the EU must be alerted to any border closures beforehand, and member nations must agree to allow the EU to monitor how the changes are implemented.
One item on the agenda for at the EU summit in Brussels that is still ongoing is a temporary suspension of the Schengen rules for EU countries other than Greece so that they can implement firmer border controls. The EU would then take over Greece’s enforcement of its borders. The reason for this proposal is that the EU believes that Greece has been lax in policing its portion of the EU’s external border. The EU revised its regulations in 2013 to enable the suspension of a country from the Schengen system for up to two years in case of “serious deficiencies” in external border management.
While this new apparent beefing up of border control by the EU might be a good way to place limits on the uncontrolled entry of thousands of Syrian refugees into Europe, it also indicates how much sovereignty EU members have lost by becoming part of the union.
Photo of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban: AP Images