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Afghanistan crisis creates unrest in Brussels

Security and immigration are the focus of the afternoon talks in Brussels. In a joint statement, the ministers are expected to pledge to “do their utmost” so that the situation does not lead to “new security threats against EU citizens”.

Not least, the EU’s concern is about avoiding a new 2015-style refugee crisis, when hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly from Syria, arrived in the union.

“The European Union and its member states are determined to work together to prevent the recurrence of large-scale and uncontrolled illegal immigration,” said a draft statement leaked ahead of the meeting.

UN aid

However, Justice and Immigration Minister Morgan Johansson (South) stated that the situation now is very different from what it was six years ago.

Passing through Europe is now more difficult. Morgan Johansson, on his way to the meeting, says the stakes – if you look at it that way – for the situation to be similar to what happened in 2015, are much lower now.

Instead, he stresses the importance of averting now a humanitarian catastrophe within Afghanistan and the surrounding region, by supporting the various UN agencies, which remain in the country, above all.

You hear similar words from the European Union Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

The United Nations exists and still exists. It is a way to be able to channel financial support, which can go directly to those who have been forced to move away from their hometowns and also other types of support, says Johansson in Brussels.

New agreements?

Tuesday’s statement is expected to include promises, among other things, to strengthen support for Afghanistan’s neighbors to arrange protection and safe conditions for refugees.

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Austria, along with Denmark and Greece, will hold a separate meeting on Monday with representatives of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

However, both Sweden and the European Commission are skeptical that it will be able to enter into new migration agreements, similar to what the EU has with Turkey, which receives billions in support to deal with refugees from Syria.

– I don’t think it is appropriate in this situation to consider special immigration agreements, but it is about other types of support, says Elva Johansson.

– All the contacts you can have and the conversations you can have are good. But the question is how to get, for example, EU money into these countries in a secure way, without that money disappearing for purposes we don’t want it to disappear. There is a significant corruption risk, for example, says Morgan Johansson.

Quota refugees

The issue of sponsoring more refugees directly from Afghanistan is also expected to be discussed during Tuesday’s meeting. However, concrete promises from EU countries will have to wait until later.

– I will invite you to a new refugee quota meeting with both Member States and other countries, because here it is important that we work together. In this situation, the proportion of Afghans will likely need to increase, says Elva Johansson in Brussels.