Intervention of Dr. Werner Fasslabend, Former Minister of Defence, Austria, in the session on "Peace and Migration: Cross-Regional Perspectives" at the International Leadership Conference in London in September, 2016..
There are 3 Mediterranean routes, a western one, a central one and an eastern one and this shows that you can control migration, at least partly. People are seeking a better life.
There was a reaction after Merkel’s welcome offer, independent of any other factor on the ground. Some people came from Europe, using the opportunity to get a job. However, security also plays an absolutely important role, of course.
In most regions [from which people are migrating], we have very difficult living conditions and the highest number of children, with an enormous demographic increase, more than 5 or 6 children per family. This goes with very poor economic conditions. It is due to a combination of different reasons adding to each other, which explains how difficult it is to find solutions.
Religion is important. In the last decades, Islam became a very important factor of identification for people, especially after the six days war and the death of President Nasser. Islam became, more or less, the substitute for Arab nationalism. It is an instrument used in regional rivalry and to pursue hegemonic ambitions and this means that religious leaders have a very important role to play. Due to their poor living conditions, the individuals’ only hope is religion.
So the United Nations and the Western world can provide us with good answers. Development aid decreased from 50% in the 80s to only 20-25% now, most of the money goes into social aid, and it is not sustainable. So, we really need to change the priorities.
We need development and stabilisation, political and economic development. Because of the aging population in Europe, we will need migration in the future, controlled and selective migration, and we will have to offer opportunities to the people from other countries. However, this only can be done with dialogue between the Western world and Asia. I hope we can make a greater contribution.
Author: Dr. Werner Fasslabend
Minister of Defence (1990-2000), Austria
Dr. Fasslabend is the President of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES) and the Honorary President of the Political Academy of the Austrian People’s Party. He earned his Doctor’s degree of law at the University of Vienna. He served as a Member of the Austrian Parliament (1987-2007), Federal Minister of Defence (1990-2000) and Speaker of the Austrian Parliament (2000-2002). From 1997 to 2003 he served as Chair of the Austrian Workers’ and Employees’ Association.