Security Arrangements and Migration Crises.

On April 18, 2015, a rickety, overcrowded fishing boat sank off the coast of Libya, resulting in the deaths of nearly 1,100 migrants, making the shipwreck the Mediterranean's deadliest incident in recent memory. Migrants from over twenty countries perished. Sadly, the migrants that died in that shipwreck are just a fraction of those that have died attempting to make the dangerous crossing to Europe. According to figures compiled by Der Tagesspiegel, a German newspaper, over 33,000 people died crossing the Mediterranean Sea, attempting to reach Europe between 1993 to 2017. (1)

The enormous challenges surrounding the European migrant crisis--the greatest humanitarian crisis the continent has faced since 1945--have been considered as an existential problem for Europe in general and the European Union (EU) in particular. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed that the future of the EU depends on solving it. Moreover, as a RAND report on the migrant crisis suggested, the "future of Europe has become inextricably linked by sea to the future of the Middle East and North Africa" due to multiple challenges, ranging from poverty, economic and political instability, and terrorism. (2) During the peak levels of the crisis, more than a million people sought refuge and new hope abroad, primarily from warravaged and impoverished places.

Against this backdrop, migration issues have been broadly connected to the field of security studies and the concept of securitization more specifically. Although regional integration arrangements are often concerned with international migration, especially with respect to the movement of people into and within the regional bloc, security arrangements typically eschew these matters and instead leave them to the appropriate national civilian agencies, regional and international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or other relevant actors.

Migration management, including border management, has traditionally been the purview of civilian as opposed to military actors.

However, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) recent involvement in the European migrant crisis was a glaring exception to this norm and reflected a sense of urgency from European states. In fact, policies focused on the migrant crisis have produced two prevailing trends--externalization of migration management and the growing tendency to involve security actors. (3) The question arises as to how the alliance became enmeshed in this situation, which was both unexpected and unusual. This paper investigates maritime military intervention by a security arrangement in an international migration crisis by using a case study approach focused on NATO engagement in the Mediterranean Sea. It is limited in scope and focuses on external, irregular maritime migration to Europe.

Using a political economy framework, the central hypothesis is that security arrangements intervene in maritime international migration crises because of a combination of supply and demand factors, which in this case led NATO to engage in a situation that would normally be outside the scope of its crisis management operations. Indeed, in contrast to NATO's traditional focus on collective security for its member states, its involvement in the migrant crisis was the first time the alliance dealt with external border threats that were nonmilitary, which led to questions concerning the appropriateness of this intervention. (4) To test this premise of NATO's unexpected involvement in the migrant crisis, this paper examines the linkage between key factors particular to this situation and argue that there were distinct causal mechanisms that spurred NATO intervention, especially the failure of the EU to manage irregular, maritime, extra-territorial migration into the region effectively and the weak relationship between Turkey and the EU in general and Greece in particular. NATO was able to act as an institutional intermediary between these antagonistic member states, in addition to Frontex, the European border security agency.

The concept of securitization mentioned earlier will also be directly applicable to this study and provides a lens through which NATO's involvement in the crisis can be analyzed, and in this respect the paper can be connected to the scholarly literature on securitization theory. The securitization model developed by the Copenhagen School (Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, Jaap de Wilde, and others) allows for the inclusion of non-military matters in security studies and migration crises would fall into this category. (5) The model explains "security" as the "move that takes politics beyond the established rules of the game and frames the issue either as a special kind of politics or as above politics. Securitization can thus be seen as a more extreme version of politicization." (6) In this case, the securitization of migration and a combination of demand and supply factors led to NATO's involvement in the European migrant crisis, a development that went "beyond the established rules of the game" and was unusual for a security arrangement.

Although the Copenhagen School has been criticized for a Eurocentric or Westernized approach, those concerns are less relevant for the purposes of this study since it involves the European migrant crisis and NATO's engagement in the crisis. (7) According to the Copenhagen School, when an issue is securitized, it is "presented as an existential threat requiring emergency measures and justifying actions outside the normal bounds of political procedure." (8) While multiple actors may be involved in securitization including the media and elements of civil society, political elites wield the most power and are usually the dominant securitizing actor. (9) An important aspect of the securitization model is the perspective of security as a socially constructed concept, where an issue becomes a security concern through discursive politics. (10) To emphasize the central role of political elites, Waever explains, "By uttering 'security,' a staterepresentative moves a particular development into a specific area, and thereby claims a special right to use whatever means are necessary to block it." (11) Because of the importance of the speech act, the Copenhagen School is tied to the constructivist approach as opposed to the traditional rationalist approach. Moreover, Balzacq suggests external developments are a key component of securitization, as the "words of the securitizing actor need to resonate with the context within which his/her actions are collocated." (12) Without this context that helps to justify securitization, it would be extraordinarily difficult to present something as an existential threat. Thus, the interaction between these two elements, the securitizing actor (or actors) and the audience, is essential to securitization theory. (13)

The migrant crisis, for example, provided a lightning rod for political elites, especially nationalist, right-wing, anti-immigrant, and anti-Islam political parties and movements across the continent to seize upon, which has permeated both national and regional political discourse, and has even threatened the viability of the European Union. In some situations, the audience (public) may have been predisposed to perceive migration as an existential threat, while in others the process of securitization led to the creation of such an audience by capitalizing on fear and uncertainty. Indeed, as Williams explains, "In an important sense, security appeals to what we don't know: to fears of the unknown, the unforeseen, and the perhaps unforeseeable--to dire possibilities that might be realized even if we don't (and maybe even can't) know exactly what they are." (14) The incorporation of fear and uncertainty into the securitization framework also contributes to the justification and legitimization of certain policy responses, which may involve extraordinary measures beyond the established rules. (15)

There is a strong temptation for nationalist, anti-immigrant parties to cherry-pick aspects of migration, mostly negative, to animate voters around national and cultural identities, and thereby securitize the issue. (16) This notion of migration as a socially constructed threat is significant. According to Bello, the securitization of migration is a spiraling, non-linear phenomenon that "involves an array of actors, discourses, policies, and practices embedded in a prejudiced narrative of migration. When prejudiced activities socially construct migration as a threat, their interplay speeds the securitization process to an extent that human mobility will unlikely be regarded as different from a crisis to manage." (17) In this respect, concerns over identity and integration play the key role in the immigration debate, particularly in some of the eastern member states that believe accepting Muslim migrants would threaten the homogeneity of their societies. (18)

To investigate NATO's involvement in the European migrant crisis, the paper first discusses the relationship between international migration and regional integration, which is an important component of the study, especially with respect to the EU. Building on this theme, it then turns to an examination of irregular migration in the Mediterranean Sea and the response of various actors to the crisis. Next, the paper looks at NATO's historical background and the connection to international migration, how it was eventually pulled into the migrant crisis, and discusses the alliance's engagement in the Aegean Sea more specifically. Lastly, a brief concluding section provides some general insights and implications related to the securitization of migration.

Migration and Regional Integration

Before turning to a discussion of the relationship between international migration and regional integration, it is necessary to provide a clear understanding of the key concepts in this study, as definitions may vary...

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