The problem is the many thousands of refugees fleeing into Europe. Since there is no safe and legal path into Europe, the refugees use dangerous boats and trucks, and risk their lives crossing on foot. Thousands have died in the attempt. Some European countries are allowing them to come in, while others try to keep them out. Europeans already have a problem assimilating migrants from Africa and Asia. Europeans should understand that the refugee problem was in large part a European creation, going back to the colonial occupation of the Middle East after World War I.

The refugees will not stop their attempt to enter Europe. Syrians, for example, suffer death and the destruction of their homes and enterprises. Many have gone to Jordan and Turkey, but those places resist further inflows.

One solution would be to offer a location that has a large area and a small population, so that population growth would be regarded as an asset rather than a liability. The prime location with these features is Siberia and the Russian Far East.

One solution would be to offer a location that has a large area and a small population, so that population growth would be regarded as an asset rather than a liability. The prime location with these features is Siberia and the Russian Far East.

Siberia has a huge area, and a population of 40 million, a bit over a quarter of Russia’s population. Siberia and the Far East came under Russian rule during the 1600s. During the Soviet era, millions of people were deported to Siberia, including those in labor camps. Most of the people living in Siberia are now Russian and various nationalities that became russified.

One reason why Siberia has had a low population density is its climate, the long cold winters. The region also gets relatively little rain. On the plus side, Siberia has minerals, oil, and forests.

Agriculture in Siberia will benefit from global warming.

The government of Russia seeks economic development in Siberia. In the Far East, the Russian government has created “Advanced Development Territories.” The ADT has a population of 6 million and an area of 2.3 million square miles. The ADT offers lower taxes for residents and enterprises. A mistake in its policy is to include lower real estate property taxes; the ADT should have higher taxes on land value, and no taxes on buildings, as well as the elimination of taxes on wages and profits. The ADT also will provide quick approvals for applications for residency and enterprise.

Russian government officials welcome investment from Asia, but fear that development may induce high immigration from China and other Asian countries. The new enterprises will need labor, and one solution is to welcome the refugees from the Middle East as well as migrants who seek better economic opportunities. If the immigrants agree to learn Russian and become good Russian citizens, then the inflow of people into Siberia and the Far East would be a double win. Europe would have less immigration pressure, and Russia would obtain labor and population for its sparsely settled areas.

With a free-market policy, the Russian Far East would thrive as investment is complemented with increases in immigrant labor. A safe passage to Russia would change the flow of the migrants away from Greece and Italy and into Turkey and from there into Russia, with the cooperation of transit countries such as Georgia.

With a free-market policy, the Russian Far East would thrive as investment is complemented with increases in immigrant labor. A safe passage to Russia would change the flow of the migrants away from Greece and Italy and into Turkey and from there into Russia, with the cooperation of transit countries such as Georgia.

In 1934, the USSR established a Jewish Autonomous Oblast (also called Birobidzhan) in eastern Siberia, bordering in China. The Jewish population there peaked at 30,000 in 1948, one fourth of the total. There are now only about 2000 Jews there, only one percent of the total population. One of the goals was to promote settlement in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

Today, Russian officials would not want autonomous Middle Eastern enclaves, but would want the immigrants to be assimilated within the general population. Russia has been handling an inflow of people from Ukraine, but has provided very little asylum for other refugees. Russia granted 1000 Syrian refugees asylum in 2014. Refugees from Syria are being told they do not meet the criteria for asylum. Even Christians and Circassians whose ancestors who came to Syria from Russia’s Caucasus area have not been welcomed. Russian immigration policy has been influenced by its relationship with the Syrian regime.

But Russia and Europe could have a mutual benefit in settling refugees in Siberia and the Far East. The situation is complicated by the economic controls related to Ukraine, but perhaps a general relaxation of the economic restrictions is warranted now, as we need to seek least bad solutions in a world gone mad.

© Text Copyright Fred Foldvary, Ph.D. rights reserved.
Click here to participate in a community survey and enter a raffle.