The following translation by our Flemish correspondent VH has been sitting in my “in” tray for a while, awaiting editing and formatting.
And, as you will soon discover, it was worth the wait: this is an exceptionally thorough and incisive look at the European Union’s deliberate policy of eradicating European national identities by the importation of millions of “circular migrants” from Africa and the Middle East.
VH includes this introductory note:
This is a translation of an essay by the Dutch Arabist Barry Oostheim. Although it was written in 2007, it was recently published on the blog of the writer/publicist Joost Niemöller. Barry Oostheim has added an update and also explains why it was not published earlier.
And the translated article:
How Europe is intensifying immigration
The main event of our time, mass migration, is actively organized behind our backs at a European level. In this comprehensive analysis written in 2007, Barry Oostheim lays bare the mechanisms and calls man and horse. The essay was ironically rejected by the Dutch weekly Opinio and the newspaper Trouw [read why in the update below]. Barry Oostheim added an update to this important document. Here it is:
By Barry Oostheim
“How the Netherlands again opens its doors to migrants”
A more generous immigration policy is not only desirable for the Netherlands, but also desperately needed. If we in this globalizing world want to make an impact, the gates should be opened. This is not the voice of the people, but are the sounds coming from reputable institutions and individuals such as the Dutch SER [Economic and Social Council of the Netherlands] and SEO [Social Economic Consultation], and former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers [CDA, Christian Democrats]. After the Fortuyn debâcle, representatives of vested interests preferred to avoid the migration issue. But for the last six months they have shown the necessary assertiveness to get it back on the agenda. In the Dutch newspaper NRC on January 27, Lubbers even claimed that we should “celebrate” the arrival of immigrants. According to him and his co-writers Halleh Gorashi and Naema Tahir, migration provides for the desired “refreshment and renewal of our society”, and that is badly needed because of the prevailing “tough mentality of cramping and exclusion”. The previous government of PM Balkenende, according to the authors, had slammed the door shut, and that must change. For that “refreshment and renewal of our society”, Lubbers & Co are not talking about Polish plumbers, mathematical geniuses from India or Russia and diligent workers from China and Brazil. They argue precisely “the legalization of temporary and permanent migration from sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean area”, which of course does not mean Tuscany, but the Arab world.
It is more than just an opinion of a former government leader. Not coincidentally, this is exactly what the EU wants. Not because in EU circles one is of the opinion that that the shutters should open if needed, but because one professes to hope that with this the illegal migration to the EU can be controlled and that African countries will be willing to take back illegal migrants. That willingness is of course has a price tag. The new European migration policy is part of an overall package with which the EU — in close cooperation with its African partners — wants to promote peace, stability and development in Africa. Also, to the Netherlands Africa is a new frontier of foreign policy. The current Development Aid Minister Bert Koenders [PvdA, Labor, Socialists] in the meanwhile, has expressed his willingness to generously pull open the government’s wallet for Africa in various TV programs.
Two weeks before the publication of the article “Celebrate the arrival of immigrants”, at an informal summit of EU Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs, it was agreed in close consultation with African countries “of origin and transit” to decide on a single joint migration policy for the EU, which among other things should legalize the temporary and circular migration. “Circular migration” is one of the promotional terms that the EU uses to make migration policy digestible for the European public. Lubbers & Co also make good use of this term. The term was invented to describe the nomads in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, and has become the latest buzzword in international political circles according to experts.
The migrant, according to the advocates of circular migration, must be offered the opportunity to circulate around the EU while maintaining his residence permit. The migrant must also be able to temporarily return to his home country [while maintaining the residence permit]. There he can share his achievements with the laggards. In migration lingo this is called brain circulation, allowing a brain drain to eventually result in a brain gain. In the NRC article, “Celebrate the arrival of the migrants”, Lubbers called circular migration a triple win: in the interests of the country of origin, in the interests of the destination country, and pleasurable for the migrants themselves.
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The exact same sentence has also been recorded from the mouth of the German Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schauble, form Euro Commissioner Fratini Francio, and from World Bank CEO Willem van Eeghen. In some circles there is even talk about “the triple win of Kofi Annan”.
For a Dutch audience, Lubbers & Co reiterate these slogans as if they invented them themselves, but they are remarkably silent on the concrete realization stage, which is where the EU plans are.
Of course the term “circular migration” is no more than an adjuration of the risk that temporary migration will result in permanent migration. International policymakers therefore are eagerly seeking for guarantees to ensure that temporary migration remains temporary indeed. Mohammed Benaissa, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and dialog partner to the European migration policy, has his doubts about this. In the U.S. weekly Christian Science Monitor he called such measures unrealistic as long as the economic gap between Europe and Africa remains.
Another popular pet in the international circles is the term “transnational citizenship”. Migrants are world citizens with “multiple identities”. With this they seem to have an edge on people who have never been looking over the dike. Like the term “circular migration”, the term “transnational citizenship” seems more applicable to the dynamic self-image of its advocates, who are circulating among national and international top positions, than the poor African wretches who are trying their luck in Europe.
Reports on the EU plans to broaden the migration from Africa, and the way these agreements have been established, have hardly reached the Dutch media. This is illustrative of the way that decision-making at the EU level takes place completely outside of any democratic and public control.
The informal summit of Ministers of January 14 and 15 in Dresden, Germany, where circular migration was discussed, was convened at the initiative of Germany. The brand-new EU chair wanted at as early a stage as possible in this function to make use of the conclusions that resulted from the summit of European leaders in Brussels a month before. At that summit among others it was agreed that a by means of a migration dialogue, the partnership between the EU and the African and Mediterranean countries should be further consolidated and intensified.
The guideline for the migration dialogue, according to the final declaration of the summit of EU leaders, is “solidarity, mutual trust, responsibility, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the migrant”. Very laudable, of course, but difficult to imagine if the dialogue partners are states that in no way are guided by solidarity, mutual trust, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
What does the dialogue consist of, and how did the agreement come about?
The preliminary climax of the migration dialogue was the joint summit of ministers of the EU and the African Union on November 23 and 24 last year in Muammar Qadaffi’s Libya. Both in Brussels as well as in Dresden, European government leaders and ministers endorsed and applauded the agreements that were made in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The immediate reason to achieve a joint European and African policy on migration and development was the storming of the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla in 2005 by African adventurers. Several meetings between the EU, the African Union and the Maghreb countries then worked towards the summit in Tripoli. Much attention was paid in advance to developing a mechanism in which the effective implementation of the agreements between the EU and the African Union could be guaranteed. This led to the establishment of the “Joint Implementation Matrix”, a body that in the EU Member States monitors to what extent the arrangements are implemented.
In Tripoli, the dictator Qadaffi himself opened the summit with a speech in which he proclaimed that “the earth is the property of everyone because God ordained that humanity should migrate all over the world in search for a living.” In the joint final statement, the assembled Ministers from Europe and Africa voiced their humble thanks for “the kind invitation of the Great Socialist Libyan and Arabic People’s Jamahiriyya”, the official name of Libya — Jamahiriyya means something like mass-republic.
The ministers pledged each other solemnly to cooperate on the issue of migration in a “comprehensively integrated and holistic way.” Also the term “holistic” nowadays has become a popular expression in diplomatic circles.
One of the issues that must be solved in a holistic way is the complaint of African countries that the legalization of temporary and circular migration must not just mean that Europe will suck all their talents away. In the many meetings that preceded the summit in Tripoli, it was extensively deliberated about how one’s brain drain could be transformed into a brain gain. That resulted in the following wording of the final declaration of Tripoli: “in consultation and partnership”, the migration stream must have a “balanced composition” that meets the “specific desires of the countries of origin and destination”. In other words: along with recruiting African talent, Europe is committing itself to attracting African stupidity. Or, as Lubbers & Co were repeating for the home front: “Temporary work permits must also be supplied, with a certain degree of social security and employment, for the much needed lower-skilled workers in, for example, agriculture and care.”
Besides this, the European ministers had to promise their African colleagues for the umpteenth time that they will provide immigrants in Europe rights they are precisely are denied in their country of origin. Combating racism and discrimination against migrants and protecting their rights is after all the basis of the European migration policy, as was strongly reiterated once again last December by European government leaders. These are wonderful principles which the EU members consistently do not demand of their dialogue partners, who without exception have a record of violation of human rights, discrimination against minorities, and the trampling of civil rights. It was only recently that Qadaffi blandly declared that Berbers did not exist at all and were already extinct at the time of the Arab conquests.
But the European Union will of course not selflessly open the gates to African migrants. One of the much-discussed aspects of the migration dialogue on which Europe bets heavily is FRONTEX, the joint monitoring of the southern coastal borders of the EU to combat illegal migration. According to anti-globalists, this is the epitome of Fortress Europe that lets migrants perish outside its gates. In the presentation of affairs the European Union likes to give of FRONTEX, the coast guard does not serve the interests of European citizens, but rather the interests of the migrant, who would otherwise be submitted to arbitrariness and exploitation. This of course does sound very sympathetic, but with this Europe of course undermines its own negotiating position in the migration dialogue. For it is evident that ultimately only the drastic increase of legal immigration is “in the interests of the migrant”.
Another weak spot of FRONTEX is that it can only work with the cooperation of the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. These countries are acutely aware of this, and their involvement has a price tag. Since FRONTEX started a few months ago, Senegal, for example promised Spain in exchange for €20 million to prolong its cooperation to take back illegal migrants for a few months.
Also the not-quite-impecunious Libya received a considerable amount from the European Union for monitoring its southern borders, and is building a coastal road along the Mediterranean Sea with Italian money in order to better guard the coast. Nevertheless the country has so far refused to cooperate with FRONTEX, because of which illegal migrants can only be intercepted in international waters and thus can not be returned to Libya.
It is not a coincidence that the African European summit of Ministers had to take place precisely in Libya.
The police state of Qadaffi plays a remarkable role in the migration dialogue, and that deserves some attention. Libya is regarded as one of the main bottlenecks in the migration flows to Europe. And the suspicion exists that the Libyan state plays anything but a passive role in it.
Since Qadaffi has freed himself from his international pariah status, as of old he makes use of a whole array of levers to force the European Union into all kinds of concessions. Besides for example scaring the Europeans with the show trial of the Bulgarian nurses, who were alleged to have willfully infected Libyan children with HIV, Libya blackmails European businesses with information on their involvement in the now-dismantled nuclear weapons program. Illegal migration is also deployed with great success. In 2003, panic broke out in Italy when Qadaffi threatened to let loose two million Africans on the Italian coasts. The mutual migration deal between Italy and Libya of one year later, accompanied by the lifting of the European arms embargo against the country, was accompanied by a sharp, albeit temporary, decrease in the number of African migrants.
Also in Africa itself Qadaffi did his bit. He profiles himself as the frontman of the African Union. He enhanced himself as mediator in the Darfur Crisis, in which he openly turned against international intervention. This was reason enough for the U.S. to send their highest envoy John Negroponte to Tripoli. Qadaffi refused to meet Negroponte, but that did not deter the messenger from discussing the further restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of a U.S. embassy in Libya with the Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs. It shows that regarding Africa the international world no longer wants to pass Libya by. That was again recently confirmed by the cheerful visit of the UK Prime Minster Blair [Labor, Socialist] to Qadaffi in his desert tent, in which a major oil and arms deal between Libya and Great Britain was sealed. All this all thanks to the lifting of the European arms embargo.
Extra savory are the reports that have popped up lately about the speeches Qadaffi regularly holds at mass prayer meetings in Mali and Niger. To the horror of the predominantly Sunni region, he called for restoration of the Shia Fatimid Caliphate in North Africa and the Sahel. The medieval Fatimid empire once stretched over North Africa and the Levant. Libyan television often shows Qadaffi personally receiving delegations of grateful Africans who have just converted to Islam. As a matter of course, Islam is carefully avoided in the migration dialogue. Despite this, the statements of such summits of European countries repeatedly call for respect for religious identity and a more balanced representation in the media to combat the negative stereotypes of migrants.
These are just a few examples of political and geostrategic interests the migration dialogue is part of. Because besides migration it is also about, for example, “the full integration of the energy markets on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea”. Last March, together with the broadening of legal immigration, this again had been approved and endorsed by the European Parliament.
If the EU succeeds in embedding the African rulers as much as possible in international structures of treaties and agreements, a country like China in the future may no longer be able to go around Europe. At least, if Europe by that time has not yet been dissolved into a larger holistic total. Because this transnational equalization of course has a prize and creates obligations.
Since the EU Member States last week decided at the EU summit to arrive at a single migration policy for the entire EU, there is not much left for the individual Member States to as quietly as possible put in place the policies they have committed themselves to in accordance with international agreements. For the “Joint Implementation Matrix” closely monitors progress. In the framework of these agreements France has already opened its first employment agencies and information centers in Mali.
That brings us back to the Netherlands and the way political arrangements here are now being prepared. “Celebrate the arrival of migrants” from Lubbers, Gorashi and Tahir was according to the weekly Vrij Nederland of March 10, a sophisticated piece of lobbying during the formation of the current government [Balkenende IV]. The article was written on behalf of “World Connectors”: a lobbying group of “transnational” Dutch who have proven themselves in both Dutch and international politics. They gladly propagate in the Netherlands the ideas they have been immersed in during various conferences and summits, together with their transnational counterparts from the EU and other international organizations.
A visit to its website the “Worldconnectors” provides a reunion with many old acquaintances such as Ad Melkert* (PvdA, Socialists), Joris Voorhoeven (VVD, Liberal Democrats), Hans Dijkstal* (VVD), Pieter Broertjes (Chief Editor of he left-wing newspaper De Volkskrant) and Wim Kok* (PvdA and former PM) [note: also Tariq Ramadan and the Christian Democrat and anti-Wilders propagandist Doekle Terpstra, etc., Halleh Ghorashi, Naema Tahrir and Ruud Lubbers — translator], who have all gathered behind the transnational mission. In their company is also Sylvia Borren, the director general of Novib, the development aid organization, which as the main sponsor of the IDFA documentary festival manages to present its political message to the public as culture.
Migration and development make up the first topic the Worldconnectors are committed to. They summarize their views as follows. Five years ago “Integration” was still the buzz word; now “participation” is the way forward. Transnational citizenship is essential, for immigrants simply do have multiple identities. Finally, it is inevitable and of greatest importance to recognize “circular migration” as a contemporary reality. The latter they really nicely succeeded in, for a phenomenon that in the first instance only seemed to occur in the rain forests of Papua New Guinea.
According to Gorashim, the NRC article is now being consulted in various counties and communities. That says something about the target group that needs to be synchronized: the bureaucracy at national, regional and local levels. Also according to the authors, it is no coincidence that the main themes of the document have been incorporated into the agreement of the coalition government. On migration itself hardly a word can be found in the agreement, because that is generously left to Brussels. But participation, transnational citizenship, living together, and multiple identities will together contribute to the warm bath for the migrants. Or as one of the insiders says in the Vrij Nederland article: “After three bad years, the message is ‘welcome’, rather than ‘get out’“.
That is a pertinent false representation of matters. Despite its zero tolerance image, The previous government indeed faithfully experimented with circular migration and thus its contributed to the development of the new EU policy. Migrants could temporary return to their country of origin while maintaining their residence permit, in order to contribute to the brain circulation. This shows from an annotated agenda with which the Ministries of Justice and Home Affairs have informed our elected representatives on the agenda points of the summit of Ministers in Dresden. Among other things it also states that to the previous government the encouraging of circular migration was a priority of the Dutch migration and development policy. That was all to no avail, because in a somewhat acidic letter to MPs, it was found that the Netherlands was kept outside an agreement of the G6 late October 2006, the inner circle of influential EU countries.
That agreement again formed the basis of the agreements in Dresden and also therein the then-outgoing cabinet Balkenende showed itself as the best boy in class. For in the commentary on the summit in Dresden, the government complained that it is so regrettable that circular migration in Europe is mainly used for the security and the control of illegal migration flows. The multidimensional approach as it appeared in the final declaration by European leaders last December and in the agreements in Tripoli, deserved a preference according to the government. In short, also to the previous Balkenende government it could not be holistic enough.
But in “Celebrate the arrival of immigrants”, there is not a word about the commitment of the previous Balkenende government. Lubbers & Co probably preferred to maintain the image of a government with a harsh anti-immigration stance, to which the new government in all decency could not do anything but distance themselves from, if they truly want to “refresh and renew” the society.
There is another interesting detail in the annotated agenda, namely that the results of a study of the SER [Economic and Social Council of the Netherlands] were anxiously looked forward to, a study to the benefits of temporary and circular migration. The SER was also asked to make recommendations for measures on temporary migration. The former chairman of the SER was the cabinet-maker of the present government, Herman Wijffels [CDA, Christian Democrat, SER, World Bank]. Wijffels is also a member of the “Worldconnectors”. He is now creates a furor at the World Bank where they also are so enthusiastic about the triple win of circular migration.
These recommendations are there now, even though the SER does not really seem to come out. In the report a number of draconian options are discussed that you in all decency would even not wish on the largest African spender of the pool. Despite all transnational citizenship and brain circulation the circular migrant, according to these recommendations, will be nothing more than a modern version of a contract worker.
But the report hastens to add that nowhere in the world does there exist a system of warranties that is watertight, and concludes that “attractive programs” for circular migration probably offer the greatest potential for maintenance of the temporariness of labor migration from developing countries. And it will become really attractive once there is the prospect of bridging the economic gap — as the Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohammed Benaïssa had already said — and this in the short term can only be bridged by unrestricted migration.
Of course, there must be considerations on these important issues. Of course the freedom of people and goods is essentially a great asset. But that can only be based on equality and reciprocity, so that certain migrant population groups cannot be deployed as shock troops by leaders in the country of origin. The problem is that EU policy is made in an atmosphere in which the representatives of EU Member States are more accountable to each other and their undemocratic dialogue partners than to the citizens they claim to represent. But far-reaching compromise benefits dictators like Qadaffi.
Moreover, this policy in the Netherlands is being marketed in a misleading way, under the guise of so-called breaking with a harsh anti-immigration climate. If the European policy is effectuated in 2010, the politicians can do nothing else but applaud than the circular migration in unison, because they have simply been told that this contemporary reality is a triple win, and the recipe for a fairer income distribution. Only in Germany are there some politicians in the opposition who say that circular migration is as much a sham as the term “guest workers”.
In Dutch and European politics, migration policy, however, seems the only remaining option whereby the legalization of migration is just as inevitable as the reduction CO2 emissions. The number of admitted migrants will never be sufficient, especially if government leaders repeatedly promise to take on development and make migration comprehensive, multidimensional, and holistic.
The European Council decided on June 12 that this policy should also be applied to migration from the regions to the east and southeast of the EU. Iraqis and Palestinians are also rattling the gates. Also here, the Netherlands again, with State Secretary of Justice, Albayrak (PvdA, Labor, Socialist [Albayrak is Turkish-Dutch), plays the goody-good compared with other countries, and takes in a proportionally large number of Iraqi migrants.
Despite all the good intentions, this will only lead to a further spinning of dictatorial regimes and local potentates, in an ever-expanding international network. Next that will mean: “polderen” [Dutch word for concession-seeking] with Vladimir Putin, Bashir Assad, Moqtada As-Sadr, and Ahmadinejad.
Undoubtedly, the institutionalization of circular migration will justify the creation of various international bodies to lead the migrant circulation along the good track. Circulation in the circles of transnational ladies and gentlemen will only become more enjoyable because of this. Reason enough to “celebrate” the arrival of the migrants over the backs of the poor wretches.
Although freedom of movement of persons is essentially a great quality, to the ordinary European citizens themselves there’s not much to circulate with preservation of rights and residence permits. Fortunately, according to Lubbers & Co, they still can transnationalize with their African and Mediterranean brothers in their own country, which is according to Lubbers & Co urgently required, if we want to be able to look over the dike.
When in 2007 I contemplated the article “Celebrate the arrival of migrants” of Lubbers, Naema Tahir and Hale Gorashi, I was impressed by the amount of nonsense that was knitted together in it. Afterwards, it seemed to be the introduction to the fourth Balkenende government. In response to this, I made a reconstruction of how the Netherlands was being prepared to the intention of the European Union to expand legal migration. That is, ironically, despite all the rosy stories about diversity, cultural enrichment and the much-needed knowledge that migration would bring, European migration policy rather results in a one-sided population composition and a monoculture of unskilledness. The real reason for the increase of labor migration is not so much the need for labor, but rather a matter of ransom, blackmail, and the vain hope that with legal migration the pressure of illegal immigration can be reduced.
Opinio, the now defunct favorite magazine for the left-conservative Netherlands, thought at the time it went too far. The editor Jaffe Vink in particular was prickled by the mentioning of the chief editor of the newspaper De Volkskrant, Pieter Broertjes. It was so accusatory and conspiratorial, according to Jaffe Vink. But Pieter Broertjes is not accused of anything at all. The man was only mentioned to characterize the social environment from which the lobbying is conducted.
That was apparently too personal for Jaffe Vink. The newspaper Trouw had it checked by one of its migration specialists, and found that the facts — which were not denied — were rather sketchily presented. That is not entirely incomprehensible, as it is a bizarre story and in those days it was unheard of that migrants are used by states like Libya and Senegal to extort Europe.
Besides, it is “good practice” to come to exactly the opposite conclusion on the basis of these facts, to serve to demonstrate just how ruthless “fortress Europe” is in excluding the poorer migrants.
To make matters even more complicated, the intensified measures to monitor the external borders, are not sold by European politicians to protect their own people but rather to protect the welfare of the migrants. This leads to protests from all kinds of European NGOs and interest groups who feel that the welfare of the migrant is only served when legal migration is significantly broadened, which in turn implies implicit support for the European policy of promoting legal migration.
Since the arrival of the fourth Balkenende cabinet [Christian Democrats and Socialists], a lot has happened again.
The opening of French employment agencies in Mali and Senegal is taken by the media as a signal. In the media of course there are many complaints that the agreements on the broadening of legal migration are just empty promises that will yield little concrete.
On the shadow-side of the immigration deal only piecemeal information came into the open.
A year after I wrote the article, in a silly-season report of the NRC [August 30, 2008], a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration is quoted, who incidentally confirmed that Libya used migration as “diplomatic lever”. “The Soviet Union allowed Jews to leave in times when the relations with the U.S. were good. In Libya, it is the other way around: when the relationship with Europe is bad, more migrants leave”.
And good relations with Libya have proved to be quite costly. Europe has provided substantial financial assistance for monitoring Libya’s southern borders. It is now a known fact that at the expense of the Italians, a highway has been built along the [Libyan] coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Because Italy has agreed to a financial support of €5 billion as compensation for the colonial past, Libya currently provides assistance for the interception of illegal immigrants in its coastal waters, with Italian and European equipment. But the way it is presented now, the bad guy in this story is not so much Libya, but Italy, who lets the dirty work be done by Libya, and makes a mockery of international human rights.
However, scarce reports on the settlement of the Lockerbie affair, the release of the Bulgarian sisters and the senseless violent trifles of Qadaffi’s son in a Swiss hotel, show that the issue Italy is just the tip of the iceberg.
Meanwhile Lubbers still insists on the need for the migration of the much-needed skilled migrants. And, coincidentally of course, but still: Just when Wilders started asking questions about the costs of migration, the UN came with a report in which it is alleged that migration can be very advantageous for the country of destination. Dire necessity therefore. The only consolation is that terms like “participation” and “circular migration” luckily are becoming worn again. Newspeak is also not what it used to be.
Barry Oostheim is an Arabist and a publicist, and has contributed to the book The Final Battle [Eindstrijd], that was edited by Hans Jansen and from which a contribution by Mat Herben was published at Gates of Vienna recently. Among many other articles on Islamization, Arab nationalism and dhimmitude, earlier this year he published on the Dutch blog HoeiBoei his outstanding Grand Interview with Bat Ye’or.
* It is outside the scope of the essay, but the Dutch politicians mentioned, Ad Melkert, Wim Kok, and Hans Dijkstal, were well involved in the demonization of Pim Fortuyn during the period 2001-2002 that lead to his murder. — translator