Lithuania gives in to EU pressure on migrants | True Lithuania
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Lithuania gives in to EU pressure on migrants

2015 07 21. Lithuania gave in to European Union pressure and agreed to accept the transfer of 325 illegal migrants and refugees, most of whom arrived in other European Union countries from Africa by boats [NOTE: since this article was published, the numbers of illegal migrants to be sent to Lithuania by the European Union were increased by some 400% to surpass 1000]. The majority of them are Black Africans and Syrians.

Lithuanian opinion polls indicate a strong Lithuanian disapproval of the measure. The first part of this measure is especially controversial, with opinion polls indicating a strong Lithuanian disapproval (for example, a 2015 06 poll by "Veidas" magazine demonstrated approval of 8,4%, disapproval at 89% and "no opinion" at 2,6%).

Among the reasons is the expected arrival of Western European troubles into Lithuania, including high immigrant crime rates, participation in riots and terrorism, putting a strain on social security, ethnic tensions, increased needs for (self-)censorship. Furthermore, the "solution" is seen to be just a temporary "reshuffle" that would merely increase the problem of illegal migration on the long term (causing EU to require its members to accept even more migrants).

The historic refugee numbers in Lithuania compared to the migrants that will be sent in by the European Union under the new program. Sizeable numbers of migrants that receive 'additional protection' (~150 per year) not shown. Data: Migration Department of Lithuania

Different immigrant situations in Western Europe and Lithuania

So far Lithuania has avoided the aforementioned problems both due to lower levels of migration and due to a different migration policy. Official target was to encourage migration from particular nations which have more similar cultures and histories (such as Ukraine and Georgia) as well as descendants of Lithuanian diaspora, leading to far less cultural friction. Moreover, skilled migrants are welcomed. Stringent rules in deciding which migrants are useful for the job market led to a more motivated and better educated immigrant population. For instance, most migrants have to have a job or a study place before arriving in Lithuania.

In Western Europe situation was very different. Many of the illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean were lured by vague stories of riches, without having the means or will to achieve them and without researching on the cultural and other differences.

Western European governments have so far relied on an idealistic notion that a well-funded "integration program" would be enough to swiftly turn anybody into a "European", regardless of cultural, economic, educational and other backgrounds.

With new migrant transfer program this notion is stretched even further: this time the migrants will be expected to integrate not even in the country they have chosen to move to, but in a country which many of them never even heard of (such as Lithuania).

Lithuanians could leave anytime, but migrants will be obliged to stay in Lithuania

The common argument in Lithuanian media for the repercussions of new EU policy being not so big as expected used to be that "Most of these migrants would go back to Western Europe anyway", using the European Union open border policy which allows leaving Lithuania westwards without any border checks.

Therefore, according to the minister of interior Saulius Skvernelis it was stipulated by the European Union institutions that illegal migrants and refugees sent to Lithuania would not be allowed to move to other European Union countries (and would be moved back to Lithuania if caught there). This will controversially mean that emigrating Lithuanians (who are free to choose their place of residence within the European Union and thus have been moving in their hundreds of thousands to Western Europe where the salaries are higher) are to be in part replaced by illegal migrants from Africa and Middle East, artificially creating a rare situation where a country (Lithuania) is both a major source of emigrating locals and a major destination for illegal migrants.

Such restrictions were put in place because although re-emigration of accepted migrants would relieve Lithuania of aforementioned problems, it would transfer "this burden" to Western European countries (which is exactly what the redistribution seeks to avoid). Moreover, it would also mean wasted resources, as the immigrants would then have little use for the taxpayer-funded "integration services" provided to them (such as Lithuanian language lessons).

Lingering memory of occupational settlements

The new measure is part of a larger relocation program that will relocate illegal migrants from Southern Europe. While many will be relocated to other Western European states, the relocation to Eastern Europe will make a bigger impact as Eastern Europe had so far very different patterns and policies on immigration and less immigration-related troubles. Almost none of the illegal African migrants previously settled there.

A common point of criticism for the "EU migrants transfer" is that this sets a dangerous precedent where immigration policies of Lithuania are dictated by powers outside Lithuania and Lithuania will likely be expected to take even more illegal migrants in the upcoming years.

The reason why it causes such a stir lies in Baltic States history. Many times occupational powers would send its own inhabitants as immigrants / settlers to Lithuania, hoping to assimilate the land. The most recent case was the Soviet settling campaign which quadrupled the Russian population share in Lithuania and also created other Russophone minorities. In Latvia and Estonia, the campaign even made the major cities Russian-speaking by 1980s. While Baltic nations made a "now or never" push for independence in the 1980s (helped by favorable international conditions) and redressed some of that afterward, the repercussions and ethnic tensions of the era are still felt today (especially in Latvia and Estonia). Estonia itself suffered rioting by its Russophone population in 2007 and has been especially wary of accepting new migrants, citing its delicate ethnic balance.

After all, despite receiving lower numbers of immigrants these years, as a result of the Soviet occupation, the northern Baltic States have some of the EU's least homogenous populations.

Major Lithuanian diplomatic retreat

While Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė showcased the decision as some kind of victory (the recently-rushed EU suggestion was the transfer of 710 migrants to Lithuania), an analysis of previous Lithuanian governmental communication show this was a major defeat under heavy EU pressure. In early 2015 Lithuania talked about accepting ~20 migrants, while several months ago the minister of interior Saulius Skvernelis still noted that "Using all its capabilities Lithuania could accept 40-50 additional migrants at maximum". Interestingly European institutions at that time suggested Lithuania to take in 207 migrants but these numbers also quickly grew.

While the refugees and illegal migrants will be nominally spread in proportion to local populations, the burden will not be equal to all the receiving countries. Hungary will not accept any, while Poland will accept half the number (per 100 000 locals) of illegal migrants and refugees Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will have to accept.

In addition to any further EU requests to accept migrants the initial population in Lithuania is likely to also expand on itself as the initial migrants will invite friends and relatives. For example, as a historical comparison, the Somali population in Finland grew from 0 in 1990 to some 17 000 today (it began as a migration of Somali students from Soviet universities, who then attracted migrants from Somalia itself).

Western Europe exporting problems rather than solving them?

Western European countries (i.e. the Europe that was once outside the Iron Curtain) have been accused of simply "exporting the problems" instead of solving them through a sustainable effort to stop the migration.

One alternative is a program similar to Australian policy whereby migrants would be resettled in safe countries comparable in the economic situation to their countries of origin (in the EU case that could be other African countries, which would get aid in return for such pledge). Australian example showed that mere initiation of such policy would severely curb the illegal migration because most of such migrants are apparently driven by economic reasons rather than seeking refuge as per Refugee Convention. Therefore, stripped of a possibility to settle down in a richer country, they would not take a risk of migration (or would stop at the safe countries en-route rather than seeking a "rich destination"). Eastern Europe, on the other hand, is much richer than Africa (even if slightly less rich than Western Europe) and therefore not useful for such policy.

Unlike in Australia, in Europe, the illegal migrants effectively get exactly what they want (a right to reside within the "rich" European Union). Those who do not prove the race-, ethnicity- or religion-related danger they face back home (a necessity as per Refugee Convention) are usually not returned anyways. As such, migration numbers more than doubled since 2014 (and have been growing beforehand). More people attempting the journey has also led to more deaths (in numbers) at the Mediterranean Sea - exactly what the EU claims to seek to avoid by "helping the migrants in the sea".

The massive growth of illegal Mediterranean migration to European Union in the recent years. It was spurred by European decisions to help migrants at sea to reach their destinations. An easier journey and seemingly welcoming attitude increased the number of migrants and also deaths. The common criticism of current policy is that it will once again send a wrong message to the would-be illegal migrants. Sources for the graph data: LA Times,

Western European leaders may feel compelled into "exporting" part of the migrants (and not allowing them back into Western Europe) because of the rising internal pressure to combat immigration and popularity of euroskeptic parties (i.e. those against further EU integration, including common migration policies). At the same time, they may feel pressure from the local leftists to "at least accept the migrants into the EU". However, it is impossible to do both at the same time as "accepting illegal migrants into the EU" raise their flows by so much that even the internal EU "redistribution" won't be able to "relieve" the situation in Western European countries which are the original destinations of migrants.

Lithuania is so far among the most europhilic countries, with euroskeptic parties never even having been elected into parliament. It remains to be seen whether this unpopular measure (which is widely seen as having benefits to Lithuania) will cause more Lithuanians to shift their opinions (immigration-related problems tend to be a key rallying point for euroskeptic parties where these parties are strong). Such prospect makes even some of the most fervent Lithuanian supporters of European Union to hold negative opinions about the migrant transfer agreement.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. If you want to see your future in the EU , take a glimpse of Sweden’s predicament:

    Sweden Is Preparing For A “Civil War”: PM Wants To Deploy Army In No-Go Zones .

    For the first time since World War II, Sweden is preparing to distribute a civil defense brochure to some 4.7 million households, warning them about the onset of war.

    On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that Sweden would do whatever it takes, including sending in the army, to end the wave of gang violence situated in the no-go zones around the country. Sweden’s murder rate has been relatively low over the years, but thanks to the migrant crisis, police are powerless in many areas across the country.

    Swedish PM: We could “DEPLOY THE ARMY” to tackle gang criminality in Sweden.

    This is a serious admission that something is very wrong in Sweden.

    Could this be why they sent out leaflets to 4.7 million households warning people what to do in case of war?
    — PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) January 17, 2018

    “It’s not my first action to put in a military, but I’m prepared to do what it takes to ensure that the seriously organized crime goes away,” Lofven said after the party leadership discussion in parliament.

    “But it is also obvious that there are social problems. Last year 300 shootings occurred, 40 people were killed. The new year has begun with new launches. We see criminals with total lack of respect for human life, it’s a terrible development I’m determined to turn around,” he added.

    Even the Swedish Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson “declared war” against organized crime and suggested that Sweden should deploy the military to no-go zones to counter the out of control violence.

    “People are shot to death in pizza restaurants, people are killed by hand grenades they find on the street,” Akesson said in parliament on Wednesday.

    “This is the new Sweden; the new, exciting dynamic, multicultural paradise that so many here in this assembly … have fought to create for so many years,” he said sarcastically.

    Peter Imanuelsen, an independent journalist in Sweden, summed up the recent developments in a timeline:

    Government sends out leaflets to 4.7 million households telling them how to prepare for war
    Leader for Swedish Democrat party says “A war is being waged on Swedish society”
    Swedish PM is considering deploying the army in no-go zones

    I think I am starting to figure out what’s going on here…

    The Swedish government just talked about the possibility of putting the army on the streets to deal with the no-go zone criminal gangs.

    We might be heading for some kind of “civil war” in Sweden.
    — PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) January 17, 2018

    To sum up, the Swedish government is preparing for a destabilizing event, while the mainstream media continues to use Russia as the scapegoat. Meanwhile, high ranking government officials in Sweden have echoed in unity that military intervention in dozens of no-go zones across the country is a high probability. At the same time, the government is preparing to hand out millions of survival manuals to their citizens indicating a destabilizing event is nearing.

    Signs of imminent civil war in Sweden? Worrying development happening.
    — PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) January 17, 2018

    Late on Wednesday we reported of even more chaos in Sweden when a hand grenade was tossed at a police station in Malmo, resulting in a “huge explosion” according to local media reports.

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