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And it Begins: Are Waves of EU Bond Migrants about to Inundate Georgian Villages?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 11:26
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by Henry Kamens, New Eastern Outlook:

There is always a price to pay for gaining the benefits of EU membership, and even the hope of eventual EU membership. When Spain first applied in the early 1980s it was obliged to cut agricultural production but only given a short time to make industry catch up to make up the shortfall. Somehow it muddled through, but the message was clear – “We are the club, and new members have to jump through hoops if they want to join.”

Despite the UK’s attempt to leave the EU, or perhaps because its mishandling of this is rapidly making the UK an international laughing stock, there are still many aspirant countries who want to join this powerful politico-economic union. Many of these countries come from Eastern Europe, and think the EU offers them a new identity as a “Western” country. To obtain this identity they are prepared to do almost anything, and the EU is taking full advantage of this.

The EU is always claiming it has a migrant crisis, when in fact it has failed to address the domestic problems arising from factors such as globalisation, greater automation and the transition from industry to services. Rather than admit its failure, the EU has encouraged its member states to blame migrants for the resulting problems. In any democracy, those who can’t vote are the easiest target, so a snowballing anti-immigrant rhetoric has emerged, which domestic governments have been keen to take advantage of to keep themselves in power.

Therefore the EU has to be seen to be “taking action” over migrants, despite all the services and industries which depend on them. Unsurprisingly, there is evidence that they have become the latest hoop new members have to jump through to gain any benefits from the EU. The new message is, “You can join if you have European values, and that means we are going to dump our migrants in your country to suit ourselves and tell you how you have to be inclusive.” But the EU itself, knowing this is a lie, can’t even come out and openly ‘speak-it-to-the-people-who should-be-hearing.’’

Tell it to someone else

The European Commission is funding a programme in Georgia which will promote positive messages about migration – in other words, begin conditioning Georgians that their future depends on accepting migrants. But this programme is not being conducted in Tbilisi, where the media is based, or Kutaisi, where parliament has sat since Saakashili tried to gain a regional support base having lost Tbilisi. It is poor people in the villages of Lagodekhi who will be the first “beneficiaries” – presumably because that area has been identified as a place where migrants can be settled.

There are many Georgian victims of the Abkhazian war of the early 1990s who still don’t have homes. A lot of agricultural land is unused because no one wants to work it anymore. Ongoing political instability makes life in forgotten rural areas more precarious by the day, as village dwellers are always bottom of the priority list. But here is the EU going into Lagodekhi to tell people that all this is because they are backward, and need to be educated and compassionate enough to accept migrants in their midst.

Georgians are famously hospitable, and no more anti-foreign than any other people. But they may well ask: why us? If this programme is so necessary, why not conduct it in Tbilisi or Kutaisi, where there is much more accommodation and many more opportunities for these migrants than out in Lagodekhi?

There are three reasons. First, people in the cities have more experience of migration. They have seen all the Chinese sex workers, the diplomats and aid workers who come and go and the businessmen who start up in Georgia because they can pay people next to nothing and run away if things go wrong. These are the people who migrate to Georgia by choice, because the generality see that Georgia has little to offer them. People in villages, who are less impacted by these migrants, might be more receptive to the idea that migration will help them, regardless of why the migrants are really being sent there.

Second, the EU has lost a lot of credibility in Georgia’s centres of power. Although Georgians want Europe, they don’t think the EU has the monopoly on what being “European” is. Georgia thinks the rest of Europe should bend to it once in a while, not constantly tell it what to do, because Georgia is already part of the European continent. It may not be a member of the club, but that membership is its birthright.

For many years, under successive governments, Georgia has slavishly followed every US and EU suggestion in order to “harmonise” its laws and practices with those of Europe. This harmonisation has been done through the proper channels, the government and parliament. The result has been that the public has accused governments of introducing anti-Georgian practices, which are not necessary to make Georgians European. The EU is pursuing this programme in the villages to go over the heads of government and parliament, hoping they will create a new climate of public opinion the authorities must accept.

The world is aware of what happened when the Georgian parliament introduced new anti-homophobia laws at the request of the EU. The harmonisation didn’t alter the existing Georgian law much, but the process was seen as promoting homosexuality in a country which is very resistant to it. The annual Day Against Homophobia, introduced in consequence, is poorly observed because a large Christian Family march takes place on the same day to counter it. The villagers of Lagodekhi are unlikely to march through the streets so publicly, and few would notice or care if they did, so even if the EU’s message is ignored this won’t have the same effect on the general population.

Third, the formally educated people live in the cities. Their resistance to EU dictates gives the EU an excuse to call Georgia backward, and to claim this resistance is due to some inherent trait in the population. Having failed to persuade the “educated”, it now targets those it considers “ignorant” to address this “deviation” at source. What the EU wanted to do all along – dump migrants on aspirant members to relieve pressures on governments in the older member states – is being presented as an educational process, despite Georgians having been well-educated in what the West wants to inflict on them ever since they regained their independence.

Two-way song

If people want to migrate to Georgia they can. There are few, if any, restrictions on EU citizens entering Georgia and living and working there. There are very few stories of migrants returning home because they were treated badly by Georgians, and the cost of living is much lower than it is in most of the EU.

If EU citizens want to migrate to Georgia little prevents them, and such migration has long been encouraged by businesses who want Western skills and investment, no matter what sort of investment it is. If they are not doing so in great numbers, but the EU is training people to accept migration, this migration will be forced upon those who undertake it.

Since the fall of Communism there has been little interaction between Georgia and Cuba. Few Georgians therefore remember the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, one of the more notorious examples of disguised forced migration, which was likewise presented as a positive thing at the time.

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