Publicat în 16 martie 2016, 20:32 / 403 elite & idei

Petre Roman: The Refugees Crisis and the Global Migration

Petre Roman: The Refugees Crisis and the Global Migration

 – Avoiding a Grim and Nasty Future

Petre Roman    (former prime-minister of Romania)            

                Probably, many of us remember that photo of the little Syrian child drowned in the sea and his frail body lying lifeless on the shore; a most sad and moving image that had a strong impact upon millions of people in Europe and the world over. The result was the instant acknowledgement of the tragedy of the refugees and the leaders of most countries unreservedly expressed their compassion and solidarity.

               Angela Merkel – the Chancellor of Germany – made her famous statement, opening the doors to the unfortunate refugees. It was a very bold declaration, yet one that noticeably jeopardized her public credibility in Germany and not only.

               With this in mind, my feeling is that  a syntagm such as ‘the Germans are selfish’ does not stand to reason and normal people, anywhere, would restrain from uttering it, for years to come.

               With her firm stand, Angela Merkel obviously marked a significant line for Germany. Many argued that it was not reasonable to extend such a strong welcome message to those people in distress – men, women and children that involuntarily experienced the horrors and still suffer the consequences of the bloody conflicts in Afghanistan, the Middle East or Africa.

                In a vicious world, treachery, lies and deceit is commonplace; so it stands to reason, again, that conflicts and wars have nothing to do with rational thinking or doing. As William Shakespeare beautifully pictured it: “beyond reason, there are only broken hearts”.

               Confronted with the wars, conflicts and failures in Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Syria, the West was dithering, being stymied by the conflict between their principles and their interests. Lots of declarations and assessments emerged, yet no validation of any tangible plan or set of solutions. Actually, nothing as such could have come out of any realistic confrontation with the facts as such, unless true reality would have been ‘twisted’ so as to fit theories!

                To fathom out that a wave of human trafficking or smuggling of all kinds will be invariably triggered should not have been complicated at all. And ,as expected, terrible situations have emerged and developed and, in most instances, went unchecked as if the West was impervious to the threats. It is utterly impossible to change anything, the world included, if you are not capable of understanding and explaining it!

                To my mind, one fundamental piece of knowledge comes from the French historian Fernand Braudel who, in his book, “A Grammar of the Civilizations”, published in 1963 wrote:“The reactions of a society confronted with the events of the moment, with the pressures set forth by these events and with the decisions imposed upon it, obey less to the logic and the logistic interest, than to an unexpressed command spurting out from the collective unconsciousness…from this point of view, religion is the strongest element at the heart of the civilizations”.

                The realities that appear to be the major sources of the growing strain in our world, today are, undeniably, inequalities and accelerations. Here, I have in mind four classes of inequalities and three types of accelerations. Firstly, and obviously, the economic inequality – today one of the preferred and recurrent topics in most economic and financial studies -.

                 The inequalities stemming from the industrial and technological developments that, as a rule bar access to civilization have not by far been done away with; this is true fact, both between  the social classes within the same borders (be it in rich or poor countries) and between the countries of the developed and the poor world. Closing these gigantic gaps is the humanity’s most urgent task; this is, primarily, not grounded on moral principles but on the survival dilemma of civilization itself.

                  However, there are other types of inequalities, with predictable impact upon all of us now and, presumably, with an even stronger and damaging consequences in the future: access to democracy and freedom, demographic asymmetry or geographic vulnerability.

                  Where truth and the values of life are subdued by arbiters, access to freedom is invariably denied and an unbearable frustration of the people sweeps any country. But who are these arbiters? We live in an era of unprecedented psychological manipulation. The arbiters of -let’s say-  ‘encoded truth’ are the designers and the promoters of the digital propaganda or of ‘the shame culture’ as David Brooks called it recently. The Arab Spring and it’s present results, in different Arab countries (Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen) are relevant examples of the inequality of the people’s access to freedom.

                   Latin America gives us hope, since the democratization process has succeeded in almost every country, including Venezuela, following its recent free elections, or Bolivia further to its recent referendum.

                   The demographic asymmetry is not so challenging from the perspective of aging societies, as it is from that of the young people who, today, represent a fourth of the humanity. The number of the Indians between 15 and 24 years of age rises to 422 million and the number of the Chinese between 10 and 24 is 286 million.

                    By contrast, the proportion of the West Europeans and the Japanese between 10 and 24 is 14%; this represents half of the proportion in India or Egypt. Nowadays, at a global level, the youth are more educated and more connected to the world issues than any generation before. However, for the great majority of them, it is virtually impossible to get a job at home; as a consequence, they are doomed to be migrants to faraway countries, where they are less and less welcome.

                    All those countries that prove unable to offer decent jobs to educated young people are weak and in danger to blow up, at some point. If, for some time, the oppressive communist regimes in Eastern Europe managed to preserve a certain acceptance among the people, this was because all the young had free access to education and jobs, according to the level and specification of their education degree. Having denied freedom to its people for so long was eventually fatal to all these regimes.

                    The geographic vulnerability is more and more related to climate change. The rise of the planetary ocean level is a fact; the question remaining is only that of the magnitude of the rise. In any case, in the foreseeable future, millions of people will be distressed and displaced and, having nowhere to go, they will, inevitably turn to emigrating elsewhere.

                     Three simultaneous global accelerations are taking place in the world, today:

  • the globalization process, which  makes the world more interdependent than ever;
  • the technological developments, which speed up every human activity and amplify every voice;
  • the climate change, which makes us more vulnerable to the weather unpredictable turns.

                      All these circumstances claim strong and capable leaders. Every country and the whole world should become more resilient. The complexity and the unpredictability of this global environment, made of inequalities and accelerations should signal to every individual and to every leader as to how urgently we need to develop awareness of our common destiny.

                      Everything makes us believe that these global inequalities and accelerations, together with the increased number of local conflicts and wars will surely trigger waves of global migration. Now, we need to see it just as we see the climate change and, as a consequence, to reach an agreement similar to the one in Paris. More than ever, nowadays, we have to face the impact of others just as we suffer the consequences of the climate change.

                       Could we reach such a compromise? I think that the UN reform precisely targets the raising of the stakes, in this respect and it means to unfold the true aspects of the global reality that affects us all. Then, the same reform, patiently yet resolutely needs to pave the way to global agreements that should not disregard the interests of so many countries and so many cultures.

    (this article is a contribution to the Global Baku Forum,march 2016)


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