Europeans fall back on old alliances in lieu of unified refugee strategy

Roughly five weeks ago, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and one of the European Union’s most powerful political figures, issued a blunt warning to its 28 countries: Come up with a coherent plan to tackle the refugee crisis within two months, or risk chaos.

Surprisingly, given the plodding pace of European Union policy making, many of Europe’s national leaders are now moving swiftly, announcing tough new border policies and guidelines on asylum.

Austria joined with many of the Balkan countries to approve a tough border policy in what some are wryly calling the return of the Hapsburg Empire. Four former Soviet satellites, led by Poland and Hungary, have become another opposition power bloc.

All the while, a call for unity by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is increasingly being ignored, even as she struggles to tamp down on a political revolt at home while searching for a formula to reduce the number of refugees still trying to reach Germany.

“We are now entering a situation in which everybody is trying to stop the refugees before they reach their borders,” said Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies, a research institute in Sofia, Bulgaria. Krastev added, “The basic question is, which country  turns into a parking lot for refugees?” … Greece [is]  the so-called refugee parking lot.

While European Union leaders agreed to pay 3 billion euros, roughly $3.3 billion, to aid organizations in Turkey to help stanch the flow of migrants departing the Turkish coast for the Greek islands, record numbers of migrants keep coming.

[New York Times]

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