EU Ambassador on Syrian Refuges: 'Not Terrorists'


The EU Ambassador to the US, speaking in San Angelo Thursday, said that the Syrian refuges pose no threat to the US. “There is no evidence that these people are terrorists, quite the contrary,” he said.

San Angelo native Mario Castillo, president of the Aegis Group, Ltd. in Washington, knows a thing or two about logical communications, especially when it comes to national and international affairs. Having the Ambassador of the European Union to the United States of America as a neighbor also has its benefits, particularly when it comes to understanding another perspective to the continued conflicts taking place in Europe and the world economy. That perspective includes what took place this past Friday when ISIS attacked France, the incoming Syrian refugee crisis and international trade.

Unfortunately, in the wake of Friday’s events, and for some time, many people are under strong misconceptions about these topics, which Castillo blames on “tailored news” that overwhelms the internet.

“What troubles me is that as the internet continues to dominate what we ingest, from a media or a news perspective, we’re becoming increasingly tribal,” Castillo stated. “Say what you will about the old newspaper, but when you flipped open the pages, you saw several stories that caught your eye. That’s not the case when you have news tailored to you. So when I hear people say things I know are a little outrageous, and I know they have no basis in fact—especially on international issues—it irritates me. How do you go about combating that? You can’t do that by telling people that they’re ignorant, or you’re no better than they are. So what you do is say, “Let me bring you an authority spokesman who knows what’s happening from a different perspective that we may possibly learn from.” That's logical communications.

Below: San Angelo leaders visit at the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. (LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)

S.A. Chamber of Commerce luncheon(LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)

Castillo stayed true to his word. Thanks to the San Angelo native, EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan was the keynote speaker at a luncheon Thursday afternoon hosted by the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce at the McNease Convention Center. Approximately 100 community leaders and members of the San Angelo Chamber and the surrounding areas attended the luncheon to listen to the Ambassador’s take on terrorism, the Syrian refugee crisis and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

“When we heard the ambassador was coming, we wanted to have an event that was open to the public,” said Phil Neighbors, president of the Chamber. “This ticketed luncheon was a way for people to come and hear his remarks and ask questions. It gives us, locally, the opportunity to hear the thoughts of a leader who represents the 28 countries of the European Union to the United States. He is extremely pleased with the solidarity that the U.S. is showing to the [European Union] right now with what happened last Friday. But he’s also interested in relating other issues such as trade, immigration and all those other things that are key on everyone’s minds right now. It’s very timely.”

O’Sullivan, who arrived in San Angelo Wednesday and spent time visiting Fort Concho and learning the city and state’s history, told attendees he had traveled to Austin and Houston. He reiterated how honored he was to see the outpouring of solidarity for the people of France with flags posted at half-staff along with the flowers and messages people have posted publicly.

“I think we have all been shocked about what’s happened. I really want to say on behalf of the people of France and of the European nation how deeply touched we all are," the Ambassador told attendees. “We know who our friends are during times of difficulty.”

O’Sullivan went on to say that the purpose of terrorists is to terrorize. Their only goal is to create chaos; destabilize societies; drive wedges between societies; encourage people to become suspicious of their neighbors and fear going out the door; and to fear travel.

“That’s what they want,” noted the Ambassador. “We must not give them that victory.”

He then explained how the agencies in the US Government have provided much needed assistance since the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

O’Sullivan proclaimed, “We must have a security response; however, we must also have a response that says, ‘We are not going to let you terrorize us. We are not going to let you divide our societies. We are not going to let you undermine the way of life that we cherish, which is so valuable.’”

The Ambassador also discussed the refuge crisis in Europe.

S.A. Chamber of Commerce luncheon(LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)
Above: Mario Castillo introduces Ambassador David O' Sullivan. (LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)

“It’s not a migration crisis, it’s a refuge crisis,” he clarified.

O’Sullivan stated that he thinks it’s important not to confuse the issue of terrorism with the drama of people fleeing war, conflict and the terrors of their country to Europe to find peace and tranquility for their families, and to build a better future.

“There is no evidence that these people are terrorists, quite the contrary,” he said.

The refugees are fleeing from exactly the same terrorists who murdered people in France; therefore, the goal in Europe is to keep the gates open and continue the provision of asylum.

“It’s a challenge. It’s not easy," O’Sullivan said about the task. Overall, the numbers are such that it makes it difficult for the EU to accept refugees in a way they normally would.

The Ambassador added that the U.S. and EU deal with the refugees differently because they are right at “their back doors,” and that’s not quite the case with the U.S.

“You take them from camps outside of the United States, and you take about 2 years to process their applications to come to the U.S. They’re completely vetted, which is a very humane and organized process,” O’Sullivan claimed. “Unfortunately, we don’t quite have that luxury."

With that being said, the EU will continue to do what it has to and accommodate the refugees and to find a solution.

Dealing with crisis is nothing new to the Ambassador. He said when he first started, it was about Russia and Ukraine, then it was the Euro Crisis, and now he’s dealing with the refugee crisis and the terrorism.

Europe, however, was built through crisis. O’Sullivan explained that the 28 countries of the EU were brought together after World War II because they determined they would find another way to do business and deal with one another that didn’t include war. They started with six countries originally. Ireland and Denmark joined in 1973, and the initial reconciliation occurred between France and Germany. Then the United Kingdom joined the EU, which made a big statement, O’Sullivan stated; but that may change if Britain decides to part from the EU, which has been discussed.

“That’s a remarkable transition countries have made by joining the Union,” said O’Sullivan. “We’re the largest economy in the world."

As the largest economy in the world, it makes sense that the EU and U.S. would enter into a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is in process at this time.

“We should never forget the importance of the Transatlantic corridor,” the Ambassador told the audience. “It’s the single most important corridor in the world. We are both heavily invested in each other overseas, more so than anyone else.”

S.A. Chamber of Commerce luncheon(LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)
Above: European Union Ambassador David O' Sullivan speaks to attendees about foreign affairs. (LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)

O’Sullivan claimed that Americans make more on investments in Belgium than in China, and this shows the extent in which our economies are intertwined and interconnected.

“We are moving now toward a landmark trade agreement between the US and the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” the Ambassador noted. O’Sullivan said this discussion and agreement has gone on for 2.5 years, and he hopes to conclude it next year.

“It will mean a huge amount of economic opportunity,” he said.

The Ambassador stated that although Texas has experienced some downturn with the economic downturn in the oil fields near here, there is optimism because Texas is reinventing itself through renewable energy with alternatives, petrochemicals and high tech industries.

“Europe is one of your greatest export destinations,” O’Sullivan said. “We are a main purchaser of your products whether it’s energy or high tech products. We have many European countries that are heavily invested in Texas and create jobs. Nearly a quarter of a million Texans owe their jobs to European investments in this state, and many Texas companies invested in Europe are also creating jobs for Europeans. Our economies are inexplicably linked.”

The Ambassador stated that he hopes the trade agreement, which is an enabler for entrepreneurs to go and do business, will reduce tariffs, lower the cost of business and lessen the duplication of testing requirements of pharmaceutical products. 

Overall, the U.S. and the EU share the same values and that’s what unites the two countries, O’Sullivan claimed.

Below: Attendees give a standing ovation to Ambassador David O' Sullivan. (LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)

S.A. Chamber of Commerce luncheon(LIVE! Photo/Brandy Ramirez)

“In the 21st century ladies and gentleman, those values are going to be challenged,” he noted. “We live every day knowing that our way of life, our democratic system, our respect for individuals, the freedom of expression, the rule of life, that we will have not only better economic outcomes, but also better human outcomes and life for our people. We’re going to have to work together in the 21st Century on all challenges we face whether this is what Mr. Putin is doing in Ukraine, what’s happening with Isis in the Middle East, what is happening with terrorism in Africa, or the conflict in Asia. These are going to be challenging situations, and we know that by working together, the U.S. and Europe can achieve things that we never could on our own."

After the event, O’Sullivan said he hoped attendees walked away with the recognition that what’s happening in the EU is a very difficult situation, so “we have to be determined.”

“We should not give the terrorists a win by being afraid or be willing to compromise on our principles or on our values because that’s what they want,” the Ambassador reiterated. “We have to stand together. The solidarity shown by the United States with the flags at half-staff and the huge outpouring of sympathy means a lot to us in Europe and we know that the U.S. is an ally we can count on.”

As for Castillo, he said whenever we have the opportunity to debunk myths and lies, we should do so.

“I’m not saying anyone has a perfect solution, but I think that the responsibility of any government is to tell its citizens these are our checkpoints. These are the hurdles that everyone must meet. We don’t get that. Until there’s honesty rather than hyperbole, it’s not going to get better, so it begins in cities like this.”

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It is said that before one can attribute truthfulness to a man's professed thoughts, one would do well to determine why he might be saying such. This is certainly true in this case, and if anyone would care to do some research on Ambassador O'Sullivan or Mister Castillo, one can determine that they owe their allegiances to other entities rather than the safety and security of America and its people. Beyond that let me make some other observations on this 'speech'.

1. 'Tailored News'. Evidently Mr. Castillo wants us all to go back to one source of printed news so we won't have to strain our rather parochial brain housing groups in trying to comprehend what is happening in the world. Being the contrarian I am; I get my news from the internet and have my favorites linked to Bloomberg Financial News, NPR, the BBC, Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, Live i24 (Israeli News), STRATFOR, two Mexican newspapers, a Mexican news magazine and about a dozen other resources. I think I am getting a little more news than what I can get out of a single paper. By the way, it's much easier to control the news by doing this little 'one source' routine. Ever hear of Pravda?

2. "There is no evidence these people are terrorists." Really? I do think the Ambassador needs to get out more. At the same time he was saying this, numerous news agencies were reporting that the ringleader for the Paris attacks had gotten into France while masquerading as a refugee. He was not the only one who did this, and if those interested watched some of the videos coming out of central Europe you will see military-aged male 'refugees' acting in ways which leads one to suspect them capable of 'terrorist' tendencies.

3. 'Overall, the U.S. and the EU share the same values and that’s what unites the two countries, O’Sullivan claimed'. No, Mr. Ambassador, not even close. Firstly the European Union is not a country; it is a confederation of countries more than anything else. A confederation, I might add, that is coming apart at the seams and has been doing so since about 2008.

We also do not share the same values in many ways; never have and hopefully never will. That is why the United States of America was created in the first place. Our forefathers were tired of your inbred royalties, your senseless wars, your institutional feudalism, your pogroms, your nativist hatreds, your religious persecutions, your petty dictatorships, your tyrants, your socialist philosophies, your ascendency of state over individual rights, and the list goes on ad infinitum. God help us all if we ever become just like you.

There are several other little tidbits from the ambassador which need examination and challenge, but my time is short and I will probably be unable to change anybody's mind on the subject. But I would like to note that while the ambassador was asking for help with his 'refugees', he said absolutely nothing about helping us with our own southern borders. A lot of those people are refugees too, fleeing their home countries for some of the stated reasons as these Syrians. Yet Europe has made no effort to help us with our refugee influx.

Europe has a long and sordid history of seeking our help for their own messes; two world wars and a Cold War occurring over the past century come to mind immediately. They wanted our help again recently when they discovered they didn't have enough bombs in their military inventory to attack Libya. Guess that's what that so-called "second largest economy in the world" will get you.

The scariest part of all this is he got a standing ovation for such insipidly stupid, self-serving and outright wrong remarks. Bet it was from all those British royalty camp followers who swoon each time the queen passes gas.

No wonder Osama bin Laden took us for an easy mark.

Thank you Mr. Garcia and Mr O'Sullivan , for bringing a more intelligent explanation to the challenges this country is currently facing . Of course some people will take exception to the explanation presented , we live in West Texas . People love to search the internet for topics they want to read about . It can be anything from how to kill the biggest buck to preparing for an invasion from the those evil Syrians . It is refreshing to hear a different point of view than the hysterical views presented on the web . If you watch the major news channels on TV , they are hell bent on promoting hysteria , they beat these stories to death . Need I say more .

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