I am Catholic but, like others, have my favorites. It’s not my style to bash Popes, but will admit Pope Francis is not my cup of tea. I preferred Pope Benedict, the classy reserved German intellectual that was not afraid to be politically incorrect. No doubt, he is probably more comfortable now in his studies in the German Alps (sounds quite nice to me) than he was in the stuffy halls of the Vatican.
Francis loves the public attention and those in the media will try to “shame” the EU, especially the V4, by pointing to the Pope’s voluntary decision to take in three refugee families. However, dig deep and one will find the Pope’s actions actually advocate a great deal of what the V4 has been saying all along.
The Pope enjoyed the “freedom to choose” who and how many “refugees” entered the Vatican. He chose three “Syrian refugee families” with “proper documentation” that had been “vetted”; and he did so in an “orderly process” that took place “outside the walls” of the Vatican. He did not take in undocumented migrants who destroyed their IDs (or used fake Syrian passports) while attacking sovereign borders and demanding asylum in Germany. The Pope did exactly what the V4 wants to do, which would be impossible without secure borders or with Merkel’s forced refugee quotas.
The V4 has been correct and consistent since the summer of 2015. They wanted to help the true war refugees from Syria but warned that this was impossible with an Open Border that allowed in every illegal migrant from anywhere, documentation or not. They were shocked at Merkel’s call for all to come, the surrendered border in Greece and Italy, and the utter lack of security at the border. The mass chaos that resulted was predicted. Hungary soon found out that they did not have the luxury of the Vatican to choose who and how many as Greece simply waved the migrants through. The PM of Hungary, Viktor Orban, quickly changed this by securing his border to protect Hungarians from the free for all.
The Visegrad4 Plan was a common sense for all. A secured border would have enabled Europe to carefully identify the true war refugees from Syria and to stop the economic migrants from entering Europe in the first place. Like the Pope, the individual EU countries then would have had the luxury of choosing who and how many refugees to take from outside the EU borders from the camps in the Middle East or even hot spots in Italy or Greece.
If Germany wanted so many refugees, they should have transported them from the Middle East or Greece themselves (like the Pope) without demanding others to open their borders. If Slovakia wanted only Christian refugees to better reflect their culture, certainly they retained that right to choose who and how many like Francis. If Czechs wanted no refugees from the Middle East so they could take in Ukrainians due to their close proximity and prior positive experience, they should have retained that choice to make themselves. If another wanted no refugees, then so be it; the EU has no mandate to dictate the makeup of countries. A secure border would have guaranteed an orderly process that protected the true war refugees from the abuse at the hands of criminal smugglers that an unsecured border enables. Moreover, the sheer numbers, fake passports, and behavior of some of the illegal migrants have soured many on the refugees themselves, who often also find themselves abused by the economic migrants. Without this mass chaos, there would have been more empathy for the legitimate war refugees that Francis has spoke of.
The secure border would have protected Europeans themselves from the numerous attacks, such as the widely covered sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany and the many others elsewhere kept quiet by the media and others so as not to tarnish the reputation of some of the migrants. In addition, it is now well-known and documented that ISIS and the terrorists have been “blending in” with the refugees at the porous border in Greece.
Pope Francis is correct to point out that we should help the refugees find a temporary place of safety, but this does not mean that every migrant should be granted entry to Europe. It does not entail forcing sovereign nations to expose their people or culture to undocumented migrants that they
know nothing about.
The V4 plan can still work, but the EU must first seal the external border. No other gimmicks such as refugee quotas or useless deals with Turkey will bear any fruit. In fact, the EU will have to start deporting all the economic migrants; This is the only way to save Schengen. Only then will Europe be able to help the true war refugees in an orderly and secure manner.
Pope Francis made his choice his way. Will he now allow European nations the same freedom of choice. No doubt, these are tough choices but the EU is incapable of dealing with the crisis. In fact, they have made the situation worse. Individual nations are better equipped to handle migration than Jean-Claude Juncker or Frans Timmersman in Brussels. They simply have more at stake.
Seal the border and there is hope; surrender it and there is mayhem for all.