02:32 GMT28 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Leaders of Greece, Italy and Nigeria as well as the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) participated in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Wednesday to address the migration crisis, stressing the failure of the European Union to deal with the issue in an effective way so far.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and IOM Director General William Lacy Swing participated in the panel discussion, entitled "Stabilizing the Mediterranean."

    PROBLEM SHARED — PROBLEM HALVED

    Italy, Greece, and Spain are among the EU nations that are bearing most of the brunt of mass migration across the Mediterranean. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), sea arrivals in the region in 2018 reached 4,557 as of Wednesday.

    "The problem is not a problem of Greece and Italy and Spain … this is a European problem, we need a common European migration asylum policy and we need to implement the agreements. We have to at least decide in the EU, that the EU is not ‘a la carte,' so if somebody believes that the EU is only for benefits they have to understand that [it] is not, we have rules … So this is something that my friend, my very close friend, [Hungarian Prime Minister] Viktor Orban has to understand. Rules are rules," Gentiloni said.

    Under the EU relocation scheme put forward in 2015, EU nations committed to relocating a total of 160,000 — later reduced to 98,000 — migrants by September 2017. The target, however, was not reached. According to the report by the European Commission, only 29,000 people were relocated by September 2017.

    "Me and Paolo, we tried a lot to convince our partners in the EU that it is necessary to face this problem not as a Mediterranean problem that has to do with Greece and Italy, but as a European one, and as an international one," Tsipras noted.

    While southern EU nations support the relocation scheme, several countries, such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, speak up against accommodating migrants. On December 7, 2017, the European Commission decided to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU "for non-compliance with their legal obligations on relocation."

    NO QUICK FIXES

    All of the participants of the panel shared an opinion that migration crisis is set to last for years, and that the European Union must approach it with patience and resilience, looking for long-term solutions.

    "We cannot deal with this in any quick way, there are no quick fixes to this … We have got to look at this [in] long term, because, clearly, there is no way that the African economies will grow quickly enough to meet all of the expectations … all of the projections of the population, so this is going to be a long walk," Osinbajo said.

    According to Gentiloni, it might take at least 15 or 20 years to see the situation going back to normal and, in order to break the current stalemate, the EU countries must find to tackle irregular migration, crack down on smugglers and organize human corridors.

    All the participants agreed to participate in a similar panel to discuss migration issues in Davos next year.

    Since 2015, Europe has been experiencing its worst migration crisis in recent history, struggling to accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing hostilities in the Middle East and North Africa. The situation prompted a divide between the EU member states, with some of them committing to the so-called open door policy, like Germany, and some, like the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, refusing to take in migrants and asylum-seekers over security and cultural concerns.

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    summit, World Economic Forum in Davos, Paolo Gentiloni, Alexis Tsipras, Switzerland
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