Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview for The Guardian published on Thursday that Europe must take the issue of immigration seriously and deal with it more decisively in order to avoid a stronger right-wing populist movement.
She further applauded German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders for showing compassion to immigrants. She noted, however, that they have to clearly indicate to the public that they won’t always be able to “provide refuge and support.”
Clinton’s comments are a stark contrast to her previous criticism of President Donald Trump’s remarks on migration and his efforts to halt refugees and asylum seekers. Clinton said European leaders trying to rein in migration could find support in those like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán whose anti-immigrant sentiment has helped them secure their grip on power.
“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said, referring to the rise of populists like Trump and movements like Brexit. “The use of immigrants as a political device and as a symbol of government gone wrong, of attacks on one’s heritage, one’s identity, one’s national unity has been very much exploited by the current administration here,” she added.
Clinton further noted that the issue of migration can be solved in ways that do not include “clamping down on the press, on your political opponents and trying to suborn the judiciary,” before making a reference to Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election which she lost.
In criticizing populist leaders like Trump, she stressed that they were speaking to people’s emotions, adding that the media was also ill equipped to cover “these candidates who are setting themselves on fire every day, who are masters of diversion and distraction.”