Juncker: Don’t mix up terrorists and refugees
By Eszter Zalan
The attackers in Paris and Middle East refugees should not be mixed up, warned EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday (15 November).
He also called on member states not to reject people who are fleeing from the same terror that shocked the French capital on Friday night.
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"We should not mix the different categories of people coming to Europe," Juncker told a news conference in Antalya, Turkey, where a G20 summit of world leaders is taking place.
“Those who organised these attacks and those that perpetrated them are exactly those that the refugees are fleeing and not the opposite,” he said.
“The one responsible for the attacks in Paris ... he is a criminal and not a refugee and not an asylum seeker,” Juncker added, saying there is no reason for Europe to change its refugee policy.
The attacks late on Friday which killed 129 people reinforced concerns of some Europeans about taking in Muslim refugees fleeing war and poverty from mostly Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
According to media reports, one of the terrorists had entered the EU via Greece with a Syrian passport. This was confirmed by Greek authorities, but other reports said the passport was fake.
The events are already fuelling EU debate on how to handle the massive arrivals of migrants and refugees.
In the wake of the attacks, Poland's new Europe minister, Konrad Szymanski said Saturday that his government did not agree with Poland's earlier commitment to accept its share of an EU-wide relocation of refugees, and now, “in the face of the tragic acts in Paris, we do not see the political possibilities to implement [this].”
Slovak prime minister Robert Fico, whose country is to challenge the refugees relocation plan in court, said Saturday: “We have been saying that there are enormous security risks linked to migration. Hopefully, some people will open their eyes now.”
Under the deal, Poland agreed to take in 4,500 refugees. Slovakia rejected the plan.
However, Juncker warned that EU leaders should not jump to conclusions, and said there is no need to change the bloc’s plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece - the countries where most people enter the EU - to other member states.
"I would invite those in Europe who try to change the migration agenda we adopted. I would like to remind them to be serious about this and not to give in to these basic reactions which I do not like,” Juncker said.
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel also stood by her open-arms policy after the attacks, despite growing political pressure from her coalition allies in recent weeks to seal the border.
Germany is a favorite destination of refugees, of whom over 800,000 are expected this year.
Fresh criticism came from Merkel’s Bavarian allies following the Paris attacks.
“The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can't continue just like that. Paris changes everything,” Bavarian finance minister Markus Soeder told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
Meanwhile, leaders of EU institutions expressed sympathy with France in a statement on Saturday, saying the attack “is an attack against us all.”
They pledged that “everything that can be done at European level to make France safe will be done,” and called on Europeans to join in one minute of silence in memory of the victims at noon on Monday.