Tuesday 18 January 2011

Confrontation against Frontex and head of European Council

On Jan. 17, on the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, a conference on migration policy was held at the Kazimierowski Palace featuring keynote speakers Ilkka Laitinen, Executive Director of Frontex and former British Home Secretary Charles Clarke and attended by various Eurocrats and migrant hunters.  Although we found out about this only at the last minute, some people from ZSP and RAS (Radical Solidarity Action) were able to get into the closed conference and made an extended confrontation.  

Frontex chief Laitinen was particularly confronted about recent actions at the Greek Turkish border, iucluding incidents of shooting at migrants and press reports that a few people left their work there because they refused to shoot migrants. Laitinen denied everything, calling it a pack of lies and refused to answer questions about deaths of migrants. The debate got hot, with one woman from RAS and one from ZSP shouting Laitinen down. The member of ZSP pointed out the way in which Frontex was militarized and the controversy around this. There was no intervention by security and both Clarke and Laitinen refusing to address the questions and calling critics of Frontex anarchists. (In this case they were right.)

Prior to this, there was a couple of confrontations with Preident of the European Council Herman van Rompuy. The first was accidental when an individual from ZSP found herself in the morning on the Brussels-Warsaw flight with van Rompuy and other Eurocrats and decided to bother him about the bailout package in Greece, plans for Spain and Portugal and other assorted matters. Upon arrival in Warsaw, we learned that van Rompuy and Latinen were to speak in the same venue but there was not enough time to go to and intervene in van Rompuy's speech. However, just after it, and in the break prior to the conference on migration policy (held in another hall), van Rompuy found himself cornered by a few Eurosceptics, a couple of socialists and anarchists. Bodyguards and state security agents intervened and whisked him away. He did not make it to the conference on migration.