Migration Management: Exporting the European Model

– translation by Assen Ivanov, Amsterdam/Brussels

 “The world is flat” according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The last generation communication- and transport devices would make the geographical distances irrelevant. But this well known song about globalisation is unheard along the walls and the barbwire which are still deviding the world territory. Roy Pullens shows the new iron curtain being stretched along the new east border of the expanded EU. The newest information- and communication technologies are put in service of making distances between people impossible to cross.

Freedom of movement is a dubious commongood. The increased mobility and migration allows the uncontrolled migration to be seen as a threat for the world order and the integrity of a nationality. While people are trespassing more and more material and virtual frontiers, governments are doing their best to keep this flow under control. In a world where everything is so closely connected, a worldwide control of movement is possible only when all countries adopt the right migration management system. This way, under the label “help for development” and “capacity build up” the EU model is exported to countries, which are in the transitional phase of joining the union (Romania and Bulgaria for instance), or to “countries of origin” ( the immigrants’ home countries). This is a model well-known for it’s repressive attitude towards immigrants and asylumseekers,with an exception for the temporary flexible workforces. To the western world and the “international“ criterias are introduced new laws and technologies concerning the worldwide control of movement and the economic profit to be made. Migration and globalisation are being interrupted through “transinternationalisation” from above. If countries don’t want to fit into this model, EU is warning with consequencies for the trade and the subsidies. The developement of networks, exchange of know-how and the political agendas are not in favour of strenghtening the position of the ones in need – the citizens, but in favour of increasing the power of governments.

While working on “United Europe”, the project “nation state” is taken beyond the European borders. The ones who don’t have the nationality or the permit to stay in a given country are proclaimed “illegal”. Detention camps and new frontiers are being created, existing ones are being transformed and sealed well. Borderpatrols are being introduced, profiles created, people are sorted according to their potential and the requirements of the market. A place of uneven powerplay is created, where one’s identity is being discussed, traded, where certain nationality groups or individuals are risking to be put behind bars, while others easily can walk free. Borders are an attempt to restrict and privatise the freedom of movement.

New and old iron curtains are using the most modern technologies in the field of security, surveillence and control. While people are trying to avoid such excessive measures on a daily baisis: they are suffocating inside containers, sinking in the sea or being simply shot dead by a border patrol.
The present “war on terrorism” talk is only “pumping up” the funds for fighting uncontrolled migration.
Walls are being raised to ensure that the useless migrant from Asia, Africa or South America wouldn’t reach the new Europe.


Poland and PHARE 

For Poland, her EU membership ment a drastic “facelift” of its eastern border. The EU is the main sponsor for this transformation, which is part of the procedure around expanding the EU and the PHARE project. PHARE stands for “Poland-Hungary Assistance for the Reconstruction of the Economy”. It’s a plan started in 1989 and later applied to other candidate-member states, targeting to achieve economical and social cohesion between the new and the old memberstates. Until 1997 Germany was in charge of the infrastructure of Poland’s west border and was closing the access towards the German territory. Germany was also delivering barbwire, technical equipment for the border patrols and was helping in the founding of detention and deportation camps. With the expansion of the EU the militarisation is moving from Poland’s west- to Poland’s westborder and that under the term “modernisation” of the border under the PHARE program.

The tiny Polish-White-Russian and Polish-Ukrainiancontrol posts are replaced by gigantic border control constructions. New watchtowers, on each 15-20 km were equipped with state-of-the-art electronic and optical devices, delivered by companies like Zeiss and Motorola, new spy helicopters and the staff is trained by German, British and Dutch border patrols. Meanwhile fiberglass cables are transporting data underground between new computers at the border and the central administration in Warsaw’s Central Alien Register – a databank existing since 1995, which contains “positive” or “negative” procedures of asylumseekers about one’s legal status, issued order to be expelled or refusal to enter. The rest of the terminals on the east border are connected with the register as well as with the two EU online databanks: Schengen Info System (SIS) and Europol. The “Automated Fingerprinting Identification System” (AFIS) connects Poland with the Pan-European fingerprint databank EURODAC for exchanging biometrical data. Meanwhile Warsaw’s migration politics are slowly taking a turn as well. In 1997 were changed the criteria for access for people from Ukraine. The effects for the social and economic life in the area and for the informal trade in- and around the border were devastating. Eight years later different institutions are still chasing illegal Ukrainian workers, which are being spectacularly deported. In 2001-2002 Poland decided to prolongue its agreements about visa free access with 54 countries. The iron curtain is being stretched again.

Ukraine and IOM (International Organisation for Migration) 

The IOM was established in1951 and has 109 memberstates today. The intergovernmental board and its service points are connected by the idea of a human and controlled migration. They are good not only for the migrant itself, but for the whole society.
IOM’s properly managed migration is rather based on other economical fundaments, which makes difference between welcome and not welcome migration. The IOM is for its members an alternative for a UNHCR, where they can avoid the by themselves signed conventions…Like for example Australia’s 2001 refusal on asylumseekers and their redirection to (meanwhile increasingly popular) camps Nauru and Christmas Island, which are under IOM’s control. A rough reality takes place there, far away from media attention or NGO lawyer’s help, Afghani or Iraki people are waiting for their expulsion. IOM is controlling not only these camps, but also assists for the voluntary (or not) way back home for asylumseekers and gives advice to governments about migration politics, avoiding illegal migration and migration procedures. In cooperation with governments, new laws are developped and technologies are implemented to make the migration management as effective as possible. Examples are new passportsystems, soft- and hardware datasystems related to the flow of migration, as well as technologies for border control and surveillance.
In Vienna is situated IOM’s Technical Cooperation Centre for Europe and Central Asia (TCC). From here are coordinated projects in countries like Armenia, Georgia or Ukraine. In the IOM’s projects, financed by the richest EU states, the ex- Soviet republics are gradually integrating their border control within the EU model. The IOM starts her activities with a study about the population and the migration in and between the countries. In the rapports there are signals about problems, like the presence of an illegal (national) groups for example. Often such groups are coming from neighbour states and are not seen as a problem by the states themselves considering the cultural and historical relations of the countries, but a problem is “constructed” and the IOM interferes with advices, implements and regulates new politics and gives training in using the new technologies.
For example de IOM rapports about big groups of women in Ukiraine, who are victims of illegal human traffic. From Ukraine women are transported to EU or to some Balkan countries to be exploited in the sex industry. The IOM coordinates and supports projects for preventing this illegal practice, but in their rapports the migrant is treated as a criminal or a victim and is missing the fact that this “migration” is often the women’s own choice. The campaign of IOM and it’s solutions legitimates stronger border control, which strenghtens the position of the maffia who is in charge of the sex traffic.

Ring of friends

Ukraine is only one of the new EU neighbour states which takes the position of a buffer state. The EU is making a “ring of friends” – an ambience of peace and prosperity, which should keep the chaos and poverty far from the borders of the fort. Fifteen countries, among which Ukraine, Marocco, Moldavia and Tunis, are invited to take part in neighbour countries’ programme. Once they change their rules and laws according to th EU’s requirements, their way to the european market is open again. Also in their migration politics these bufferstates are forcerd to obey the European model and IOM offers its help generously. This way Europe’s immigration problem is pushed further away from the walls of the fort, into the territory of countries like Libia for example.

After the Australian model, ships approaching the Italian coast are sent to places out of the responsibility of the Italian government. The asylum request is rejected and once shipped to Libia, the asylumseekers are put in a detention camps under inhuman conditions. Just like the US and Australia, EU has it’s own extraterritorial lawless zones like Guantanamo – where “ghost detainees”  are locked incommmunicado, unsecure about their future and even risking being tortured. Talks are underway between IOM and the Libian government about newly planned detention camps for ship migrants to be built on the Libian coast.

The EU is satisfied with the IOM’s earlier work and gave green light for expanding their projects… NGO’s and migration organisations are included or excluded from the projects. To be able to fulfill the service requirements IOM rents security-multinationals to run its camps.

A trend, similar to other prison systems or comparable to provide “freelancers” in Irak: there is no difference between  police- or military operations for the “corporate business”.  Migration  is a growing industry not only for the human traffic bosses, but also for multinationals in control- and security services and equipment. While the production lines for soft- and hardware data systems and the newest biometrical scanners are increasing its productivity and the capital flows freely, the free movement of the individual is restricted in all possible ways. Actually freedom of movement exists only for an elite of the world population…

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