Belgian Foreign Minister Theo Franken told Reuters on Thursday that the European Union should not accept the entry of African migrants who are pushing human smugglers to cross the Mediterranean Sea but must return them.
Only then can the Union open legal avenues to accept refugees and migrants to Europe and airlift them in accordance with a maximum year instead of the uncontrolled outflow of 1.6 million people to the shores of Europe between 2014 and 2016, he said.
We have to fix this by being clear: getting a ticket in a boat to smuggle people does not give you free access to the European continent, “said Farken, who belongs to the Flemish National Party.
“The current system is not human at all,” he said, adding that it has revived international crime networks that deal with human smugglers at the expense of thousands dying as they cross the sea.
About 50,000 people have cut across the Mediterranean to Europe since the beginning of the year, most of them African migrants who are unlikely to be granted asylum in Europe.
Franken said Europe was applying humanitarian laws loosely, and that people intercepted at sea should be returned from where they came or delivered to other African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria.
“I will do it for two weeks and it will stop right away, one of thousands of euros will not be paid to end up in Tunisia, Egypt or Morocco,” he said.
Such a proposal for refugee repatriation is controversial, however, as aid groups warn that the return of migrants who are already suffering from difficult and deteriorating conditions leads to more miserable prospects that violate human rights.
Despite escalating tension between the EU and Turkey, Franken said he hoped a deal to curb immigration with Ankara, which he described as an important Greek partner for the EU, would tackle issues ranging from immigration management to combating terrorism and dealing with the Syrian file.