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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Friday, September 18, 2015

UPDATED: E.U. nations pull welcome mats for migrants, imposing new restrictions

The story that is headlined is from The Washington Post and begins as follows:

European nations once friendly to refugees abruptly yanked their welcome mats Thursday, as Germany considered slashing its benefits and Croatia announced it was closing most of its road links with Serbia “until further notice.”

The German measures would overhaul asylum codes to stem the massive flow of migrants into Europe, scaling back the generous policies that have made Germany a beacon for desperate war refugees and economic migrants pouring out of the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
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And see from The New York Times the following: 17,000 Migrants Stranded in Croatia by Border Crackdown.  It is also about the region and not just the migrants, noting:

The shifting of the crisis to the Balkans has added a whole new dynamic to the crisis, threatening to reopen old wounds and distrust. The masses of migrants and refugees are struggling through the clutch of countries that once formed Yugoslavia, until the wars of the 1990s bloodily broke the former Communist state apart.

The remarks were revealing of the tensions the migrants are now sowing among nations with weak economies, uncertain futures in Europe, creaking welfare states and deep wounds from the past. Those factors are hobbling the region’s ability to respond to a crisis that even richer nations in Europe have struggled to address.

On the surface, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, whose bloody disintegration shocked the world, would seem naturally sympathetic to the plight of refugees, and indeed the outpouring of sympathy and aid in recent days has been notable.
 
The exodus resulting from war and suffering in the former Yugoslavia presented Europe with what was then its biggest refugee crisis since World War II. By 1992, some 2.3 million people had fled, making the sight of refugees fleeing a daily and visceral occurrence.
 
But after gaining independence, countries in the region have struggled to bounce back — the average gross monthly wage in Serbia is 518 euros, about $585, while unemployment hovers at about 18 percent, according to the government statistics office.
 
Such realities have left the people of the Balkans the “have-nots” of Europe, and now reluctant to accommodate the thousands of refugees who have even less than them.
 
“We have much empathy in the region for migrants but countries across the region are poor, their institutions are not yet developed, and most states can barely deal with the daily problems of government, nevermind a migration crisis,” said Sead Numanovic, a former editor in chief of Avaz, a leading Bosnian newspaper. “These countries just don’t have the capacity.”

The situation in many Balkan nations is so difficult that many of those seeking asylum in Germany come from Serbia, Albania and Kosovo. This has pushed Germany to have these countries declared “safe” by the European Union so that Germany can immediately reject any of their citizens applying for asylum.
 
In the spring, the German government began a campaign to discourage the tens of thousands Kosovars from coming. Nearly 34,000 Kosovars applied for asylum between January and August.
 
The response in the Balkans has also been complicated by the fact that several countries such as Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bosnia, buffeted by economic hardship, corruption and weak institutions, have not yet been accepted into the European Unio
 
In Bosnia, which is bracing for as many as 10,000 migrants, the country is so hobbled by strong residual nationalism among its disparate ethnic groups that it can barely govern itself.
 
“The Balkans is an area that has not recovered fully from the wars in the 1990s and the countries of the region remain in limbo in terms of European integration,” said Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia and a former United Nations assistant secretary general for political affairs.
 
In a region long plagued by bloody conflicts over land, it is hard enough to police borders where regional rivalries still remain. Slovenia, the first former Yugoslav nation to join the European Union in 2004, and Croatia, which joined in 2013, cannot agree where Croatia ends and Slovenia begins — a dispute that dates to Yugoslavia’s collapse.
 
 
Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is struggling to maintain stability and neighborly relations with Serbia, which it views as its former oppressor. Montenegro has made some progress but the European Union has made it clear there might not be new members admitted in the next five years.
 
“All of these issues make the status of this region somehow provisional in its relation to the E.U. and that is not in the interest of stability, but quite the opposite,” Mr. Turk said.
 
Even without all of those challenges, there is also a risk of an anti-Muslim backlash or resentment in a region that has known ethnic violence perpetrated against Muslims and where reconciliation has sometimes proved elusive. In Bosnia, for example, the Serbian republic that is part of the country has denied that the massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys during the war in 1995 constitutes genocide.

Slovenia still lacks a mosque although there has been a Muslim minority there for decades.

As refugees from Syria and other countries in the Middle East seem poised to approach Slovenia over the summer, Damir Crncec, a former director of Slovenia’s Intelligence and Security Agency, warned of “a grand strategy of a slow destruction of Christian-Jewish values and roots. A new, more sophisticated version of Turkish invasions.”
 
Against such a backdrop, the influx left Croatia scrambling to create more migrant processing centers, including using a military barracks in the town of Beli Manastir, which is near the borders with Hungary and Serbia. The barracks, intended to house 200, was flooded by 8,000, said the town’s mayor, Ivan Dobos. They had arrived suddenly by bus and train, from the border towns of Tovarnik and Batina, he said.

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