A point of view of Meldet H. Sunjic.
The debate on migration in Europe is being conducted by right-wing and left-wing groups in a moralising, emotionalising and uninformed manner. Migration policy screws around the effects of irregular migration without considering its causes. The main people affected have nothing to say in the debate; instead, they live in permanent exploitation through smuggling and human trafficking cartels, through the economy of the host country and through the demands of the relatives left behind.
The migration debate in Europe has been running into a dead end for years. Every new refugee ship that is not allowed to dock, every tragic capsizing of boats that are not seaworthy leads to the same speeches and the same tug-of-war, without the problem as such coming any closer to a solution. This is mainly because the migration issue is almost exclusively emotional and moralised. A few years ago, the Right discovered how well refugees and migrants are suited as external enemies to mobilise their own ranks, fuel fears and delegitimise political opponents. The „solutions“ offered are simple and ideologically compatible: more spending on the military and police, increased surveillance of the entire population, revival of nationalist and authoritarian ideologies, damage to European integration.
In return, the democratic forces in the left and green factions, as well as Christian-social and liberal parties and NGOs, fall into an equally emotional discourse. The point is to attack the political opponent and denounce his moral deficits. The migrants and refugees remain extras in the big, always the same exchange of political fights. There is no rational discussion ethic at all, which is why the discussion does not lead to any new solutions.
Yet it would be time, especially now that the hysteria of 2015/16 is slowly subsiding and the pressure of the large number of arrivals has eased, to find a fact-based discussion on migration in Europe. Austria – under the Kurz government an advocate of European refugee and migration policy – has been given an opportunity to engage constructively after the change of government. That would be a good thing for this country because of its history as a refugee receiving country and neutral mediator.