Ilves: Migration crisis affects European political landscape (3)
The migration crisis also had a political dimension, because it affected the political landscape where favorable conditions for the extreme right had emerged, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in remarks made in Brussels on Friday.
The migration crisis was now the biggest security concern for European citizens, and those who turned their eyes only to the South of Europe were mistaken, as we had recently seen developments causing concern also in the North, where refugees moved from Russia to Norway and Finland, the President was quoted saying by spokespeople.
Living in the bubble of peace dividends was over in Europe, and an era of peace and mutual understanding had come to an end, Ilves said on the opening panel of the Brussels Forum, titled this year "A Grave New World: Future Global Security Challenges."
The European security environment continued to be undermined by aggression in Europe, Ilves said, reminding the audience that two years ago on Friday, so-called elections were staged in Crimea, a part of Ukraine, where 98% of the population voted in favor of joining Russia. Ukraine lost part of its territory and continues to fight against the aggressor in the eastern part of its territory, he said.
When asked about the possibility of keeping up the European Union's common stance in July when extending the sanctions on Russia will again be discussed, Ilves said that on this subject the unity of Europe seemed to be holding up well, as there was no sign of any change concerning the signing parties’ attitude towards the Minsk agreements.
Ilves also spoke on the subject of the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy, a joint initiative between the EU, its member states, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. He said that it was unfortunate that readiness for reform in the union’s six eastern neighbors was weak, and that it wasn’t comparable to the decisiveness demonstrated by the countries that restored their independence in the 1990s and had closely integrated with Europe by now.
The Brussels Forum is an annual high-level meeting that concentrates on foreign and security policies. In addition to the refugee crisis, which affects the European Union both internally and externally, debates have been scheduled on the future of Ukraine, developments in Russia and its neighborhood, broader impacts of the war in Syria, and finding solutions to them. A separate focus will be on the effect of new technologies on society, including business, relations between citizens and the state, and legislative practice.