The migrant Exodus: Slovenia on the Refugee road

Slovenian has been facing an influx of migrants for weeks now. Although the government claimed it has been prepared for the larger amounts, however reality turned out to be the other way around. Thus it comes as
no surprise that it started to lay a fence on it’s border with Croatia. But can it be frowned upon by that or is this a by-product of a unresponsive and disunited EU?

Rumors of Slovenian government setting up a fence to seal the border have been circling around for weeks since the larger influx of migrant wave had started, however government constantly ruled out such option, until the 11th of november, when the fence started to be set up in fast pace. Not only did this cause (another) border dispute with Croatia and tensions arising between the nations police forces, it also sent a clear sign to the world: The EU is closing its border, sealing itself with fence and shielding itself with walls from the boomerang that is finally backfiring at EU. Let us not fool ourselves anymore, EU’s involvement in US’s imperialism that destablized the Middle East sent millions of people into exodus and uncertain faith, only to be faced by fences and walls from the very countries that helped destroy their homes. Although not all migrants come from the conflict zones, it does not nullify the responsibility that the EU owes to these people in need. However in this post I would like to focus on the situation in Slovenia.

It is no secret that Slovenia is facing a hard time in managing the migrant crisis, not because it lacks experience or necessary equipment, but it’s facing pressure both from internal and external factors. The latter being, as already mentioned above, unresponsive and uncertain direction of EU’s policy towards the migrant crisis. The second reason being the lack of communication between Slovenian and Croation government and at sometimes irrational behavior of Croatian government, which has in few occasions, deported unannounced groups of migrants to the »green border«, so the migrants ran through country unchecked. However, this is only one of the examples how EU has failed to establish a common policy and answer to this major crisis it is facing. Not to mention, that the migrant crisis has started to cause tension between still fragile relations of countries from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Relations between Slovenia have soured earlier this year due to arbitrary scandal, and have been souring ever since the beginning of the migrant crisis. Same can be applied to the Serbian – Croatian relations. It is important to note that the Balkans are a not a stable region, and this migrant crisis could genuinely lead into some serious incidents sparking between the states of former SFRY, since this crisis has led also into the increase of nationalist movements and nationalist ideas  gaining  popularity (one of the key elements that broke SFRY apart),  instead of widening of cooperation to resolve the crisis – One of the key elements that broke SFRY apart.  However, the rise of nationalism and neonazism is closely tied with the internal factors.

As I have mentioned, unresponsive and ineffective EU policy is paving ground for something that we said »NEVER AGAIN« to. Yes, it is paving the way for nationalism and spread of ideologies that promote xenophobia, islamophobia, hate, violence and so forth, and this can be clearly seen in Slovenia. Since the influx of migrants, social media become swarmed with comments of hate speech, the posts ranged from something simple as building to wall, to rounding them up at the border and shooting them, from deporting and burning them to gassing them in Auschwitz. The refugees become a daily theme in common conversation between people, with many being in fear of the influx of strangers. Who are they? Why are they here? Why did they came all of sudden? What do they want from us? Are they dangerous? All these questions originate from fear of unknown, and this is of course a genuine thing, however, it did not take too long before the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and Slovenian Nationalist Party (SNP) started to become vocal about it, spreading propaganda and right wing populism amongst the people, before they could even have all these questions answered to. A concerning fact is also the recent creation of SDS’s paramilitary group (similar to Croatian’s right wing party, HDZ) and its own media house nova24.tv, that further spreads lies and false facts, which has quickly gained popularity. It is important to note that SDS is engaged in history revisionism as it openly commemorates domestic collaborators during the WWII, thus formation of their own militia group sends out a very concerning message.

On the other hand, the refugees aren’t building themselves a good reputation either, since they have burned 2/3 of one of the refugees centers, a fight also erupted between refugee, giving false identities and so forth. Which makes people question the very nature of this refugees? Do they really need help if some of them are refusing and throwing food that they are offered on the ground? Before these questions can be answered and investigated in detail, the media already gives people an easy answer. On the other hand, we have masses on the border, waiting to be checked and allowed entrance, sometimes waiting in harsh weather conditions and it’s going to get worse when the winter comes. Not only that children are getting separated from their parents, some of them are starved and in poor health conditions as well. And this is the situation in Slovenia, the right is gaining in sympathy, while the left is being criticzed for its open door policy for refugees. The left’s critique and rational explanation of the crisis often goes unheard as the right is appealing to fear and question of security and is significantly achieving better results in gaining sympathizers. The incumbent government, however, recently passed a law that gives the Military extensive authorities so it is able to help the police when it comes to border control, which sparked controversy in the public sphere as it could be misused for other purposes. The publics initiative to call for a referendum on this decision was ruled out by the parliament, thus the organizers are now appealing to the constitutional court.  Yet in spite of all the fear and xenophobia, there yet remain people and organizations that uphold humanity and solidarity with the refugees. It should also be pointed out that there are many volunteers both domestic and international,  working tirelessly day and night in order to provide and take care of the people in need. While many are falling to the propaganda, comfortably sitting in their chairs, there are people volunteerly working to help the refugees, expecting nothing in return. In one side we have skepticism, yet on the other side we have solidarity, which has left the domestic public sphere divided on the crisis.

All in all, the current government can be criticized for its actions regardless. It is improvising well admist the unresponsive EU policy and lack of communications between the countries on the refugee road. The government has been left to act upon it is own, it has duty to its ever concerning and skeptical citizens as well to those people waiting to pass to the desired country. Of course, the fence could be seen merely as a mechanism to direct the incoming masses and makes the border control easier or is it trying to build seal itself in from the migrants? That remains to be seen, though neither open or closed border policy could be considered as the »right decision« at the very moment.

What I would also like to point out is that is no secret that this crisis is a subject of imperialism, which is of course tied with the aggressive nature of capitalism that is ravaging nations, destroying countries and cultures in pursuit of profits and natural resources. All while the working class is struggling to survive in this harsh environment. Further if fascism is really a sign of capitalism in decay, could the European Union be taken over by the far right parties, using migrant crisis as a scapegoat in order to save the system in decay? Could the »never again« happen once again? It is becoming evident that EU is in need of reform and the it cannot keep the status Quo anymore. Question is, will it be reformed by solidarity and tolerance or by hate and violence? The migrant crisis has not only divided the European public, but it has opened a question to be or not to be humane with the migrants, who may, according to those who spread fear and propaganda, be nothing else but savages and barbarians, that seek to destroy and conquer Europe from within and establish a European Caliphate? What they fail to mention, that these migrants, according to some estimates, present less than 1% of European of population. The Union has should ask themselves if it still values the human rights as it seems that those are being pushed into background. The migrant crisis could be in such portrayed as exsisential crisis for Europe. However, while the conspiracy theories and skepticism remains, the reality is that these people are here and they need to be helped or at least be given the conditions to survive. The quickest and most effective solution would be for US and EU join Russia’s mission to obliterate ISIS, pave way for democratic elections in Syria and give funds to repair the infrastructure and then transport the refugees back. Of course, this a utopian solutions, but it is a solution that it exists and so do others. If the refugees want to stay in EU, they should be processed, employed and be given the chance to live and work in the EU, while adapting (to some extent) and respecting the European culture and values. However, the problem with this is that it indirectly fuels xenophobia, as it leads to well known statement »The state cares more about the refugees, than its own citizens!«, but in reality, should it be in the state’s best interest, it would have taken care of its citizens long time ago since it has the means, but this is tied deeply with the conflict between state and capitalism.

To conclude, the migrant crisis brought Europe upon testament of its own existence. Can it stay united in adversity and save this crisis through the methods of solidarity? Or will it fall apart and drift to another war perhaps? Perhaps there are too many questions and too less answers to the crisis. It is certain though, that we must not trade our humanity for hatred and someone else’s opportunism, we need to preserve it and use it to savet his crisis. I also believe that Europe needs to take turn to the left and be rebuilt in the spirit of democratic socialism or in such way, where nations and cultures can mutually prosper based on values of solidarity and tolerance.

 

Further reading:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/11/slovenia-fence-refugees-veliki-obrez

Patrik Bole

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