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A. Miloshoski: Address to World Summit 2015

Address to World Summit 2015, Seoul, Korea, August 27 to 31, 2015

I will deliver a few points and thoughts regarding one of the most important issues in Europe today, and that’s the issue of the huge wave of migrants coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and many other countries, something that has never happened on this scale in the last 50 years or more.

Just to start with some of the figures, the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to neighboring countries has at this moment passed 4 million people. That confirms that this crisis is the world’s single largest refugee crisis for almost a quarter of a century under the UN special agencies that follow crises like this.

New arrivals in Turkey and the updated data from the neighboring countries are telling us that the total number of Syrian refugees is more than 4,013,000, as of yesterday. Today there are a few thousand more. Tomorrow there will be a few thousand more as well.

The prediction is that by the end of this year there will be almost 5 million refugees being displaced out of what we consider the state-recognized Syrian borders. At the same time, an additional 5 million people have been displaced within that region, mainly in Syria and Iraq, but also in other countries.

Tragically, today we are in the fifth year of the crisis in Syria, which has more consequences, including millions of refugees, but still as a world, as a UN, as a European Union, as a Middle East we don’t have an answer to this question.

Just to say a few words about the share of the burden of this refugee crisis: the figure of 4 million people shows that 1.8 million people, Syrian refugees, are currently in Turkey. It’s a very big burden for this country. Approximately 250,000 refugees are in Iraq, 630,000 people in Jordan, 132,000 in Egypt, and 1,180,000 in Lebanon. Around 30,000 are elsewhere in North Africa.

These numbers do not include around 300,000 refugees, asylum seekers, mostly from Syria, that are asking for asylum status in the member states of the European Union. And if you go to the European Union, I will just tell you what the Eurostat (ph) shows, which is that most of the refugees – 37 percent – are coming from Syria. Eight percent are coming from Eritrea, so it’s not included in this 4 million refugees. Eight percent as well from Afghanistan, 5 percent from Iraq, 4 percent are stateless, 4 percent from Somalia, 4 percent from Iran, 4 percent from Pakistan and elsewhere.

So it is more than a Middle East crisis. I would say this refugee wave is really a world crisis. Coming from a small country, from the Republic of Macedonia which has 2.2 million people, if we take this amount of 4 million refugees, it’s double the number of citizens of my country.

In the last three months through our borders from Greece, through Macedonia, and then towards Serbia and Hungary, we have registered – and probably there is a considerable amount of those being not registered – some 45,000 refugees fleeing from their homes and trying to reach some other destination.

Most of them, as I have said, are coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Palestine, Congo, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia and elsewhere. This is the data from the ministry of interior of Macedonia.

Receiving refugees and managing the refugee crisis in the summer, in July, in August, in September, is not easy but it’s probably easier than managing this crisis in October, November, December and January. Winter is coming. Resources are not always the strongest side of non-EU member states like Macedonia and Serbia. This issue is really posing additional consequences that are reminding us of some developments during the Cold War, or even before that.

The Hungarian government has already made a decision: they have started to build a wall 175 kilometers long. We thought that the Great Wall of China is ancient history, and we thought that the Berlin Wall was somewhat modern but already successfully in the past. But now we are witnessing the building of new walls within a united Europe. That’s not a good sign, but that’s something that should motivate us to think about a solution.

In Germany we have on a daily basis anti-immigrant protests and pro-immigrant protests. The government of Denmark published advertisements in different Arab countries saying that immigrants are not welcome in Denmark. In response, pro-opposition and NGO groups from Denmark are publishing counter ads in the newspapers, saying that Denmark should be an open country and welcome the immigrants.

Bulgaria is building a new 40-kilometer fence on the Turkish-Bulgarian border. American President Obama, as well as Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and French President Hollande spoke recently about the migrant crisis.

I would just like to say that peace is not given once and forever. Therefore, I think that we need a common response, and regardless of what we think about ISIS and the structure there, this is the root of the problem. Regardless of who created it and how it came about this is a result of actors and game-changers, not only in Syria and Iraq but also in the wider region.

We should face this issue and not allow a stronger and bigger and more shameful refugee crisis or tragedy to happen in the Middle East and Europe. So in that sense I would just like to encourage you that in some upcoming session, the sooner the better, this issue should become an issue of analysis, approach, suggestions and certainly help, because the European Union, but mostly the refugees themselves – the people, families, males, females, fathers, parents – they need real, concrete help.

At the same time, in a long-term crisis, among 1,000 refugees you will find one, two or three infiltrated, well-trained and very skilled warriors. And when they reach their destination in Berlin, in Vienna, in Budapest, in Stockholm, in Paris, or elsewhere, they will be there as sleepers, and one day when the conflict will reach full-scale with ISIL, they will be activated.

Thus the crisis is not only short-term but long-term ahead of us, and we will need a common response, being careful but also being open-minded and finding the best solution for this refugee crisis.


For more information about the World Summit, click here.