European Union member countries have begun to convene more frequently to discuss these matters; it also represents a major item on the agendas of EU summits, and the union's need for new immigration and asylum policies is voiced. However, it is obvious that every attempt to change these policies results in regression. Even though the number of immigrants and asylum seekers arriving in Europe has recently been on the decline, after every meeting where immigration and asylum policies are discussed, EU countries tend to boost measures to prevent immigrants from entering their countries via illegal methods, give legal status to fewer of them and tighten deportation procedures. Of course, the EU can find solutions to the majority of immigration and asylum issues that affect its member countries, but it is hindered by member countries' insistence on giving preference to their short-term political interests at the expense of common interests.
At this point, it should be emphasized that Europe should get rid of the misconception that "immigrants and asylum seekers are flocking to Europe" as it is unfounded and it is the product of a crisis rhetoric as fomented by political opportunism and xenophobia, which Europe feels it no longer needs to conceal. This misconception, advertised by politicians and the media with certain amplification at frequent intervals, has made it a serious crime to defend the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers, including saving potential asylum seekers from death by drowning.
It is not without reason that these people abandon their homeland
As stressed by Nafiz Tok, a professor of political and social sciences at Niğde University, the decision to immigrate, an utterly radical decision, is not made arbitrarily, and these people -- call them illegal immigrants, immigrants, asylum seekers or refugees -- leave their countries for some reason. They do not abandon their previous lives in search of a modern life. Wars, persecution, attacks by armed groups and gangs tear these people away from their homeland. Moreover, it is a fact that the lives that these people lead in the countries of destination can be properly depicted as modern slavery.
On the other hand, while almost all of them are affected by the international immigration movements, EU member countries have similar asylum systems and problems associated with their status as destination countries. In this regard, the EU has long been trying to put a common system in place. However, a striking point in this assimilation mentality is that EU member countries lack any responsible sharing system with respect to immigration and asylum. Instead, they entertain the strategy of getting rid of any responsibility in this respect. As a result of their understanding of responsibility, they tend to pass the buck to developing countries or those that do not have certain engagements around the EU or other EU member countries, such as Greece and Malta, that do not have the ability to meet asylum demands.
MATRA: a project to sharere sponsibility
The West sees the illegal immigration issue as a doomsday scenario and opts to penalize illegal immigrants in order to solve the problem. As a result, instead of solving the problem, it makes the situation more inextricable. This is a major issue for the world's domestic politics, as German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas put it, and if the EU is serious about stopping this twisted immigration in the short term, it should try to create opportunities for immigrants and asylum seekers to enter Europe through legal means. This is because since 1970, despite the ongoing restrictive immigration policies in a host of member countries, many immigrants have continued to go to Europe through legal or illegal means. Having always favored the tightening of legal measures, the EU now only has smuggling and trafficking networks. For an effective fight against immigration, Europe should provide greater assistance to the regions largely populated by asylum seekers and countries with problematic structures. By creating more secure and proper living spheres for them through increased political and financial investments in these countries, the EU can effectively eliminate immigration and asylum issues. This is essential for the long-term battle with immigration.
Before finishing, I would like to touch on the MATRA program. MATRA, the Dutch government's pre-accession projects program, provides funds to social transformation-oriented projects, leading the way in responsibility for human rights. It is an exemplary project in terms of sharing the responsibility for solving the fundamental issues of our time, and it is a concrete example of global steps to solve immigration, asylum and human rights issues in the midterm.
*Recep Korkut is a social worker with the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD) and a journalist who has written articles about minorities, international problems, migration and refugees.