INTERVIEWING WITH MIKKEL LARSEN


NOTES ON EUROPE THROUGH DANISH EYES

In this article, we interviewed Mikkel Larsen, Chief of Communication for the Danish Embassy in Spain. Mr. Larsen, gave us his opinions on some of the current events dominating the news in Europe.  Regarding Turkey’s application to the European Union (EU), Mr. Larsen explains that it’s not going to be an automatic process for Turkey to became part of the EU. In 1993, during an assembly presided by Denmark, it was decided that a country seeking membership needed to complete negotiations on 35 chapters of the total body of the EU law. Turkey however, only passes on 15 of those 35 today. This in turn implies a long road ahead for Turkey to finally become part of the European Union. For instance, there has been a steady decline on the freedom of press and speech in the last few years and we have watched this with worry. This fact has added pressure and also made it difficult to ensure their membership to the EU. We asked Mr. Larsen if he thought one of the solutions to the current refugee situation would be to forge an agreement with Al-Asad. However, he categorically disagreed with that. He added that, Denmark wants Al-Asad gone, and that it was just a matter of time for that to happen. Right now in the EU, there is a debate on a transitional government in Siria and they are negotiating its stability. There is one main demand in this new Syrian government, “no Al-Asad”. We are sending a fleet of planes to fight ISIS, which in turn is indirectly helping Al-Asad. However, after the war, we have to be able to guarantee a strong government, which is very difficult to do (we have Libya and Iraq as good examples.) There are ongoing negotiations among Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia on how to resolve this crisis. However, we recognize that Asad is the lower priority, and that there is immediate need to intervene in the fight against ISIS to stop the terrorist organizationScreen Shot 2016-06-06 at 23.57.52.pngMikkel Larsen at the Danish Embassy in Madrid. (Photo source: Raquel Envó)

Regarding the “Brexit,” Great Britain´s exit from the EU, Mikkel recognised that Denmark would be highly affected due to the close ties that link both countries. His exact words were: “First of all, we hope it does not to happen. Britain is the third biggest export market of Denmark in Europe and our strongest ally; and the Brexit would result in increased unemployment in my country. However, it would also impact the rest of Europe by shifting the centre of power to Germany and the southern countries, which would in turn affect Denmark and the Scandinavian countries. Additionally, the Brexit would it make it harder to resolve some of the problems currently affecting Europe such us the Economic and Migrant´s crisis by creating yet another crisis. I´m not trying to say that it would mean the end of the EU, but it would certainly weaken our position towards the rest of the world. Great Britain is certainly a major player in the EU.”

Now talking about issues directly affecting Denmark, I wanted to know first-hand from you about the approval in the Danish Parliament of the Act by which property is taken away from refugees who owned property worth 10,000 kroner (1,340 euros) or more. Mikkel explained the reasons that led to that enactment of the law; “first, it is important to remember that this law was adopted last year and had several objectives: the idea is to match the conditions of the Danish people with that of the refugees. “There was a situation with refugees whereby many owned property and at the same time received state aid when the law in Denmark says that a person with enough means to subsist should not benefit from state aid. This situation led to a discontent within Danish citizens reason why the Bill was taken to the Parliament and approved. However, I must clarify that this law is not applicable to property with sentimental value. It was intended to balance the subsidies provided by the Danish State to Danish citizens and that provided to the refugees. The Danish Government has created several laws but they are above all dissuasive laws, when we talk about 1340 euros, there are exceptions. The idea was that if a refugee came into Denmark with a lot of money, he or she should use his/her own means to cover their expenses instead of receiving aid. At the moment there has been no refugee that has had his or her property take away so far.” As a matter of fact, the police refused to cooperate because it did not seem feasible to enforce the law.”

 

To conclude, we’d like to mention that Denmark had created a law which extended the period of reunion of refugees with their families, from 1 year to 3; according to Mr. Larsen, this was passed to reduce the migratory flow and prevent Denmark from becoming a preferred destination for refugees, emphasizing that, “as a matter of fact this law was passed with the majority of the votes in the Parliament.”

Raquel G.Envo

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