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Orbán goes to Brussels / Are pictures of dead Syrian child changing minds?

Almost all of the EU media continue to report on the migration crisis. The publication of pictures of a dead toddler on a Turkish beach may be changing minds and the meeting between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Brussels, are the two most important topics. Aylan’s death may be changing politicians’ mind as Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström was moved to tears when discussing the image on a TV show.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said: “Aylan made me and my family cry”. However, Berthold Kohler in FAZ criticises that the picture of the young Syrian boy has been exploited by the media. Jean-Jacques Mével explains in Le Figaro that Europe now has ten days to regain control of the migrant crisis and make up for “two years of finding excuses and burying its head in the sand”. In an interview with Le Figaro, Manfred Weber declares that “Europe’s door must remain open, but it has to be kept under control.

Turkish authorities revealed that Turkey is at the forefront of this humanitarian emergency; on Wednesday, the Turkish National Security Council (MGK) expressed concern over the EU’s “worrying attitude” towards the refugee crisis and urged Europe to take action. A lot of newspapers report on the meeting in Brussels yesterday between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, during which they discussed the migrant crisis. Viktor Orbán’s latest declarations are still concerning for Europe: he said that European citizens fear that European leaders might not be able to manage the migrant crisis, which “is not a European, but a German problem.”

In reply, European Parliament President Martin Schulz asked Mr Orbán to contribute to finding a common European solution to the crisis instead of “throwing the ball into Germany’s court.” Mr Orbán said that it was no use to talk about refugee quotas until Europe is able to defend its borders. He continues to be described as a “European troublemaker” for Peter Riesbeck in Berliner Zeitung, and one who goes against European values, according to EP President Schulz in an interview to ARD and in another interview with NPR said “what we are seeing is egoism instead of common European service.”

However, Peter Riesbeck concedes that Mr Orbán is not wrong in stating that Germany is partly responsible for the escalation of the refugee crisis. Angela Merkel’s attitude towards migrants continues to receive support. Konrad Handschuch comments in Wirtschaftswoche that Angela Merkel “has given up hope” that Europe will tackle the refugee crisis jointly. “Germany has made a brave decision when suspending the Dublin regulations in favour of refugees coming from Syria,” European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told Zeit Online. And Delfi.ee reports on President Juncker’s words to De Volkskrant yesterday. He said he believes that greater contribution is necessary because the influx of immigrants has become entirely uncontrollable in the past few weeks.

Mr Schulz states that the European Parliament has long criticised the Dublin Regulation, and he claims that Europe’s population is large enough and that distributing 500,000 refugees should not be a problem. And Nicole Bastian writes in Handelsblatt that the Dublin Regulation has become an excuse for certain member states to shirk their responsibility. Luxembourg’s Foreign minister Jean Asselborn also criticised the asylum system, which is nationally managed and leads to discrepancies among EU member states. Annette Riedel comments on Deutschlandfunk that unlike the Greek and Ukraine crises, the refugee crisis has the potential to break the European Union, and Viktor Orbán’s appearance in Brussels demonstrates just how overwhelmed Europe has become.

To cope with this crisis, Tina Hassel suggests on ARD that Europe should think about more creative ways to prod member states toward more solidarity, and she welcomes the proposal of a European refugee fund. In an interview on Deutschlandfunk European Commissioner Günther Oettinger notes that one has to convince national politicians that there must be solidarity in Europe. If this does not succeed, one must “overrule” opponents. The International New York Times‘ front page features a news analysis piece by Steven Erlanger, in which he writes that “this is exactly the kind of crisis, requiring urgent action, that the EU … is not designed to handle.” He goes on to explain that the problem is exacerbated by David Cameron having such a slight majority, and his party being so divided over EU membership.

The split between Germany and Eastern Europe continues to draw media attention. Mr Orbán made it clear that his country does not intend to take part in the solidarity effort for migrants, and that it does not want to take in Muslims. While Ulrich Krökel headlines his article in Salzburger Nachrichten “Solidarity becomes an alien concept in Poland”, Poland’s PM Ewa Kopacz announced that Poland is ready to accelerate works on implementations of decisions taken in June and July and added that Poland has always supported solidarity and European values for which Poland also fought during its history. Hungary’s latest trick is widely covered. Indeed migrants have been misled and got in trains marked for Germany but police waited for the refugees to take them to the refugee camp in Bicske and Vámosszabadi.

Angela Merkel’s meeting with François Hollande is receiving some coverage too. They defended a system for an “equitable, compulsory distribution” of asylum seekers among member states, helping relieve the most pressured countries while avoiding having refugees trying to reach those countries who give them the best attention. Several media report on European Council President Tusk’s appeal to EU members to “double their efforts” and to relocate at least 100,000 people. When European Council president required a “fair distribution of at least 100,000 refugees”, President Juncker spoke of 120,000 refugees “The politics have changed,” an EU source said. “There is opposition but it is a minority now. Binding quotas are needed,” reports The Times.

Even the UK is changing its mind. Indeed PM Cameron has made a retreat over the migration crisis and an apparent backtrack on policy as he admitted that Britain would accept its “moral obligations.” Many media cover the European Commission proposal next week to member states to resettle a much larger number of refugees than it had initially suggested. Brussels is considering asking EU countries to take in 120,000 more people in the face of a massive exodus towards European borders.

Italy has always “appreciated” President Juncker’s “sensitivity” to the immigration issue. He called for an “overall strategy” on immigration, consisting in foreign policy and economic policy together, according to corriere.it. Cyprus and Greek media report on First Vice President Timmermans visit along with Commissioner Avramopoulos to Kos this Friday where they can see the situation of refugees for themselves.

 

 

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