Here are some extracts from a Swiss newspaper interview with Jacques Attali, who was born to a Jewish family in Algiers but later migrated to France where he became a prominent political adviser and author.
Immigration has a tendency to divide Europe. Should Europe welcome migrants?
Unfortunately, all the countries are in agreement about containing immigration, and even reducing it. But let’s look at the numbers: we are 600 million inhabitants of Europe and we are talking about receiving 200,000 migrants per year. In three years, that would be 600,000, that is 1 for every 1000 people in Europe. Do you see? 1 in a thousand! It’s not enough. We are capable of welcoming many more. The Lebanon has to manage with 25% of Syrian migrants. Europe is also confronted with a demographic collapse. And welcoming refugees forms part of its values.
Isn’t there a gap between your hopes and the policies of European countries? And then Europe does it put itself in danger in wanting to contain immigration?
No, it protects itself. But too much, in my opinion. I know I am very isolated faced with this European consensus. But it’s shameful to not welcome all these worthy people, magnificent, often well educated, young, full of dynamism.
…Every country should think of itself as a hotel and its inhabitants as hoteliers. Receive foreigners without end. Be welcoming. This is what makes Switzerland symbolically a maritime country.