French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that Europe “can die” unless it stops refugees from crossing its borders. Talking to the BBC at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Valls said that Europe needs to let refugees know that they’re not all welcome.
Here’s what he told the BBC’s Lyse Doucet, the added emphasis is ours.
We cannot say or accept that all refugees, anyone fleeing the terrible war in Iraq or Syria, can be welcomed in Europe … the first message we need to send with the greatest of firmness is to say that we will not welcome all the refugees in Europe.
Valls continued by saying that “our societies will be destabilised” unless we lock down Europe’s external borders. If that doesn’t happen, Valls warns that Europe, or at least his concept of Europe, could “die.”
It’s Europe that can die … If Europe is not capable of protecting its borders, It’s the very idea of Europe that will be questioned … Not our values, but the concept of Europe that our founding fathers had, yes it is in very grave danger.
The French PM gave three solutions that he says Europe needs to implement to save itself — protect its borders with guards, defeat ISIS, and return some refugees to their countries of origin.
The last point is not something we hear politicians saying very much and the context in which it was said makes it even more interesting. Here’s the full quote below:
We have to help Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. You need hotspots, reception, and registration centres and its members can be a lot more active so we can register migrants and say that those who have the right of asylum will be welcomed and not the others. The others will be returned to their countries of origin.
It sounds very reasonable to say people who don’t have the right of asylum will be returned to their home country, but Valls is making his comments in the context of three countries that border Syria. It is inconceivable that refugees would be returned to Syria as it is a war zone.
Valls is frustrated for the same reason that other European leaders are frustrated — the refugee crisis is largely beyond their control. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed huge numbers of refugees last year, there was nothing other countries could do about it if they objected.
Doucet asked Valls about Merkel’s decision, take a look at what he says.
We know clearly that after the Cologne incident, that with the continuous influx, not only Germany but northern Europe, Austria, and the Balkans are confronted and need to find practical solutions for our borders
Valls is essentially blaming the “Cologne incident,” the large-scale attack and sexual assault of women in Germany on New Year’s Eve on the refugee crisis. By saying this, Valls is one step away from blaming a mass sexual assault incident on Angela Merkel herself.
The refugee crisis is highlighting the tensions between European leaders. As the crisis continues, we are likely to see this sort of rhetoric and unsubtle pointing of blame increase.