In spite of everything, it’s September again – high time for the delegates from the European Union to meet in Brussels to discuss the refugee crisis. The delegates would have wished to classify the refugee invasion as an “alleged influx,” but too many people all over the world had seen videos and pictures of masses of people leaving their countries. Thirty years ago, the delegates probably could have gotten away with “alleged” and so not worth bothering about. But it was September, it was now, and they had to hammer away at an issue on which they daily lost ground.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor from Berlin, dropped in on the meeting, causing everything to turn out differently from what little Malta and Cyprus, who had squeaked into the Union by the skin of their un-European teeth, had imagined. The chancellor had not wanted to take the refugees in. Then she had changed her mind and wanted to take a lot of them in, but then she changed again and got frightened at the prospect of a million refugees sloshing around Germany and decided to continue to deprive her country of the menial workers it was starved for. After all, everyone knew the refugees could be fussy about what hunger they would be willing to fill and what they would not be willing to fill.
The delegate from Malta scratched his nose and spoke. “It’s a big crisis. That’s what Assad said.”
The delegate from Cyprus grabbed an apple from a bowl on the table and took a bite out of it. “Why don’t the Arab countries take them in?”
“They want to come here, to Europe.” The delegate from Malta scratched his nose, harder this time.
The delegate from Cyprus took another bite of his apple. “You can’t just barge into someone’s country because you want to,” How would you feel if 5000 people decided they wanted to come live with you in your apartment?”
“I live in a house. In Valetta.” The delegate from Malta scratched furiously at his nose. Only five years ago, he found out that he had a hereditary trait for itchy nose and had probably been born with it.
“OK, house. How would you feel?”
“It’s a tricky issue. Thorny. Could you hand me the Kleenex, please…. Maybe ISIS has recruited some of them to infiltrate and kill us.”
“They’re fleeing from ISIS, dummy.”
“Not all of them. Don’t call me dummy.”
“Give them to Saudi Arabia.”
“Can’t,” said the stocky president of Latvia. “Saudi Arabia won’t take ‘em. Saudi Arabia requires visas.”
“They don’t need visas here?” the delegate from Malta was getting confused because his nose was driving him crazy. He put his headphones on. Soft music would quiet his nose.
“Nope. Schengen zone. You need to bone up on your immigration rules and regulations.”
“Get rid of Schengen then. Make visas required. We’re no slouches. We can require visas too.”
“Tell Saudi Arabia to…” the delegate from Cyprus began.
“They don’t have to. They’re Saudi Arabia,” snapped the Croatian delegate.
The Maltese delegate was feeling soothed by the soft music. “Whatever happened to asylum seekers having to seek asylum in the first safe country they enter?”
“I like your headphones,” said the delegate from Cyprus.
“We have to figure something out.”
“Your headphones say a lot about you.”
The Croatian delegate brushed a crumb from his shirt. “You can’t just shoot ‘em. And you can’t build razor fences fast enough. I’ve been to the borders. You wouldn’t believe it.”
“How was it on the Serb-Hungarian border?”
“Um. . . . . . .loud.”