Nearly 3,000 migrants crossed over the Evros River from Turkey into Greece during the month of April – that’s about half as many to arrive in the entirety of 2017.
The situation, which a local mayor describes as “on the verge of spinning out of control,” is reminiscent of the influx in 2015 – when half a million migrants crossed the Aegean Sea to get to Greece.
“Our reception facilities are overwhelmed…Far more are coming than are actually being registered,” complains Dimitris Mavrides, mayor of the border city Orestiada. “The government has just sent 120 extra police, but they are temporary and simply not enough.”
European leaders made a deal to cut back on Aegean crossings, but that deal did not encompass the Evros River. “In a boat it can take as little as three minutes to cross and is far cheaper [than the Aegean route],” says Mavrides. “They are coming precisely because it is not part of the deal and because word has got out…If they get here and are processed, they are free to go anywhere on the mainland.”
Analysts believe the influx was caused by Turkey’s military offenses in northern Syria, with locals running in fear of imminent attacks from NATO members. The Greeks think Turkey is deliberately letting people leave in order to put pressure on European governments (this is something that Turkey has done in the past). The influx is likely a combination of both factors, but more importantly, the refugees’ arrival will exacerbate the problems caused by the crisis in 2015.
Germany has declared the migration crisis over, but that is clearly not the case.
The 2015 migration crisis spawned a wave of nationalism that swept through Europe and the US, with several nationalist candidates coming into power and Britain voting to leave the EU. That movement died down a bit last year with the election of Emmanuel Macron in France, but seems to be picking back up this year in Hungary.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz Party won a super-majority in April after running a campaign focused on mass migration. That victory secures a third consecutive term for Orban, who responded to the 2015 migration crisis by deploying the Hungarian military and building a border fence.
“We leave it to the voters, but this is a very clear question that should be decided, whether they would like to have a Hungarian Hungary or a Hungary occupied by migrants,” said Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó last month before the election.
Orban’s victory follows nationalist and populist wins in Czech Republic, Austria, and Italy.
“I strongly predict the revolution will keep rolling,” says former UK Independence Party Leader Nigel Farage, who campaigned heavily in favor of Brexit. “The Macron agenda – more money, more taxation, more military power, foreign policy without national veto – everything Macron is talking about runs into a headlong collision with the way the people of Europe are feeling.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (pictured above) last year ran a full-page advertisement in national newspapers blasting migrants who refused to assimilate. “I understand that people who think that if you so fundamentally reject our land, I prefer that you leave,” reads the letter. “As it happens I have that feeling too. Act normal or go away.”
Research suggests it may be too late for Europe.
Muslims in Europe have a younger median age and are more likely to have children than other populations. Based on current demographic trends, Muslims could overtake native populations in most of Europe within two generations.
“Within 40 years at the latest, it is almost certain that the majority of the population will be Muslim in Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Holland,” writes economist Charles Gave. This is a calculation, not a prediction, says Gave, and it does not take into account new immigrants. “The immense news of the next 30 or 40 years will thus be the disappearance of the European populations, whose ancestors have created the modern world. And with these populations will disappear the diverse and complementary European nations that have made an immense success of the old continent for at least five centuries.”
Muslims made up about 5% of Europe’s population in 2016. A lengthy report by Pew Research Center estimates this percentage will increase to 7.4% by the year 2050. Account for “moderate” levels of immigration and that figure increases to 11.2%. Account for “high” levels of migration and that figure jumps to 14%.
The report also suggests a sharp decline in the number of non-Muslims in Europe. While not as dramatic as Gave’s calculations, this projection holds serious implications for democracy and identity in Europe. We have already seen a “coincidental” increase in crime rates in countries that accept Muslims immigrants. What happens when this population is the majority?