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More than empty words needed from Croatia's EU presidency

Instead of constantly arguing over decimal places, Croatia’s EU presidency must lead the way in providing the “appropriate means to fund the biggest challenges before us since the Industrial Revolution,” says GUE/NGL co-president Martin Schirdewan at today’s Strasbourg plenary.

With the digital revolution taking place at our workplaces and the climate emergency causing greater social upheaval, Schirdewan says the EU’s long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), must be settled as quickly as possible to ensure the revolution is socially fair and democratic:

“We need urgent political decisions and we need them now.”

“Furthermore, the cuts to the Cohesion Policy at the expense of more armament and militarisation are fundamentally wrong!”

“If we want Europe to grow together economically and socially, we must invest in the regions and the social cohesion of our society. We don’t want empty words!” he argued.

Schirdewan also touched upon the dire humanitarian situation at the Croatian border, as authorities violently push back on people who are fleeing wars and conflicts but whose rights are also being fundamentally violated, saying:

“The EU has to respect law and human rights at its own borders. Unfortunately, we keep getting news that there are numerous serious human rights violations – especially at the Croatian border.”

“Here, for example, their government has an obligation to campaign for a reform of the European migration policy – one that is committed to human rights and the fundamental right to asylum,” he concluded.

Swedish MEP Malin Björk had equally strong words for the Croatian Prime Minister over the country’s violent pushbacks at its borders with Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia, having visited the various sites herself just before Christmas:

“The Croatian presidency wants to focus on rule of law and humane migration management. But that completely contradicts what is currently happening at the Croatian borders and inside the country.”

“According to careful estimates, there had been 10,000 illegal pushbacks in 2018 and more than 25,000 in 2019 – 10,000 of them were chain pushbacks stretching from Slovenia to Croatia and Bosnia.”

“Not only this, I am sure the Croatian Prime Minister has read reports of systematic brutality and cruelty by Croatian border police in carrying out the pushbacks. They are absolutely shocking.”

“At the borders, I heard stories from people who had been pushed back. I saw their wounds – which were even worse than in the reports. Some had been maimed by dogs, others by taser. I heard first hand stories of many who had been beaten and had their had all their belongings stolen by the border police, or had to stand in ice cold water up to their chest for 3o minutes before being forced to march back to Bosnia. It was endless.”

“Anyone trying to assist refugees and migrants are persecuted. It is frankly speaking a horrendous situation all together,” said the Swedish MEP.

 

Photo courtesy of The European Parliament on Flickr

 

 

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