Lessons from migration clash on Belarusian border

By David Engels for the Visegrad Post

Lessons from the migration crisis at the Belarusian border: When charity is extorted by force, this is called robbery

Poland – The well-known Twitter site “Visegrad 24” recently wrote: “When someone knocks on your door and asks you to come in and you politely say ‘no, thank you’, and then they try to push open your door and force their way in, that’s when you know you made the right decision not to let them in.” (https://twitter.com/visegrad24/status/1466146377604468736) The moral dilemma that most Western states have been facing for decades, and which Poland is now facing as well, could hardly be better formulated.

On the one hand, they feel obliged by virtue of the so-called European values to be extremely generous to all those seeking help and to grant all those who apply not only the right to asylum, but also a place to live with full allowance. On the other hand, it is increasingly difficult to present these asylum seekers as helpless and weak victims of political violence: not only the images of the alternative media, but also the concrete reality in many Western European cities prove that most of these migrants are in fact young, often violent and radicalised men whose love for “Western values” seems as dubious as their status as “political refugees”.

Although politics, mainstream media and academia still try to embellish this reality, the images from the Belarusian border make this propaganda irrelevant. Of course, the Polish situation is not new to Europe, as other countries, such as Hungary, have been making similar efforts to defend Europe’s external borders for many years. But it is novel in that migrants’ propensity for aggression has rarely been so apparent, not least because migrants crossing into Belarus are explicitly supported by the local government in their violence against Polish security forces, while the Serbian government cooperates with Hungarian border guards and thus limits the worst excesses. In retrospect, the situation may therefore prove to be an unintended, but necessary, lesson not only for Western European conservatives, but also for the Poles.

Western Europe now sees that defending Europe’s borders is entirely feasible and useful, and that the refusal to close the borders in the face of the 2015 ‘refugee’ flow was as damaging as it was unrealistic. Even from a humanitarian point of view, the images of migrants returning disappointed but peaceful from Belarus to Iraq and Syria show that closing the Polish border will, in the long run, be a more humane decision for the safety of “refugees” than their unrestricted reception would have been. For such an open-door policy is bound not only to play into the hands of dubious smuggling networks, but also to embroil many migrants in an odyssey that may mean suffering, deprivation and perhaps even death.

Poland, on the other hand, has realised that the word ‘refugees’ does not refer to a majority of weak and desperate women and children, driven on their way by the desire for democratic freedom and the sharing of so-called Western values, but rather to young and vigorous conquerors, ready to seize, if necessary, by force of arms, the social benefits to which they clearly believe they are entitled. But these are very poor starting conditions for cultural, social and political integration: those who break laws, violate borders and attack security forces as soon as they enter the territory of the European Union do not offer the best guarantees for peaceful integration. When charity is extorted by force, this is called robbery.

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