RT: Open borders within the EU make it harder to control the influx of refugees from conflict zones – what can be done to improve control?
Fanco Frattini: Well, the problem of the porosity of European external borders is a real one. When I was commissioner for justice and home affairs I had proposed to have a European common register, where, for example, fingerprints, biometrics – to check and control a bit better all those who enter European territory. Unfortunately, all the programs to have, for example, biometric visas and biometric controls are not yet implemented in full. That said, the problem of refugees is first of all a human being’s problem, so we cannot refuse to welcome and to accept those that are coming from conflict regions. But that said, together with refugees, we are afraid of the potential infiltrations of so-called foreign fighters.
So there are different problems, but the solution cannot be to change the current system – to have inside the external borders an open space which is the Schengen space. The Schengen space has to be made a bit safer – absolutely true – but not abolished.
RT: Migration isn’t spread equally throughout the EU. Is it fair that migration laws remain EU-wide? Shouldn’t countries that are affected the most be given the right to introduce their own regulations?
FF: Well I think there is already now the possibility of random controls of those that are on European territory. Unfortunately, as I said, they are not yet implementational measures like largely using biometrics to detect and to check who is in the part of Italy for example, or France, and why. Are they entitled to stay? Or not? Thanks to biometrics and the system of European common register there would be that possibility. But as I said, member states are still implementing the final phase to make this system fully operational.
RT: The US openly admits it put pressure on the EU to impose sanctions against Russia. How great is Washington’s influence?
FF: I know what you know about American pressure on Europeans. I know in some cases some important top level officials of US recognize even publicly. I can explain that with the doubts America had at the very beginning of the readiness of EU member states to put sanctions, because America knows perfectly that the first impact of counter-sanctions proposed by Russia and imposed by Russia is on European business, European companies – not American companies. So I suppose at the beginning Americans told that Europeans were reluctant to join them on the policy of sanctions so they decided to put pressure. But I repeat I don’t know the details and the inside of that story – I can just suppose. It was wrong to put pressure on Europeans and it was wrong for Europeans to decide under pressure, but I don’t know what happened in reality.
As far as I know, during the Milan talks a few days ago there were some attempts to ease tensions and how to go towards lifting sanctions. In my opinion, Europe should seriously reconsider this policy of sanctions. In my opinion these are not beneficial for European interests. Much more important would be to deescalate the tensions and avoid further confrontation with the Russian Federation. But I’m no longer one of the institutional decision makers – I would hope that the government of my country would work towards persuading a number of other European member states to go back to the policy of cooperation rather than the policy of confrontation and sanctions.
I think that the best way would be to let the independent investigation [into the MH17 plane crash] go ahead without interfering in the independent investigation, or if that German or American autonomous investigations reached some important results in terms of evidence, let’s publish data, let’s publish results. Otherwise, there would be the risk of interfering or even worse influencing the independent investigation.
I trust the independent investigation, but am very concerned about the risk of this kind of influences or infiltration into the independent investigation – this for sure doesn’t help with finding the truth of what happened. But I don’t know of course and I suppose that you don’t know either…yet.
I think the international community should urge the authorities in Kiev to be serious with investigating those that have been killed – particularly those that have been killed from the army of Kiev in some regions in the east of Ukraine. Who could be optimistic in that situation? I am not so optimistic about the results of this kind of investigation. Also, on debt, a very sad story of thousands and thousands of victims. We would need an independent international investigation to be established – this is not the case yet. I hope that the authorities of Kiev will accept the idea that international bodies will investigate together with Kiev authorities on the real fact which led to the deaths of thousands and thousands of people in eastern Ukraine.