Summary of the International Conference “EUROPEAN VALUES AND SECURITY FACED WITH THE MIGRATION AND REFUGEE CRISES – A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE CIVIL SOCIETY”

In Skopje, on 20 September 2016, an international conference was organized entitled: European values and security faced with the migration and refugee crisis – a perspective of the civil society. This conference was initiated by the European Movement in the Republic of Macedonia (EMRM) with the support of the Central European Initiative (CEI) – Trieste and in partnership with the Institute for Geostrategic Research and Foreign Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation – Skopje Office. The conference was attended by participants from several Member States of the Central European Initiative (Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia), as well as by many participants from Macedonia. In addition, the conference was attended by speakers from non-CEI member states, which are strongly affected by migrant and refugee crisis (Germany and Turkey). The conference was opened by Ambassador Abdulkadar Memedi, Director of the Institute for Geostrategic Research and Foreign Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia. He stressed that the Republic of Macedonia has successfully faced this crisis by showing that action has been taken in accordance with European values, although it was a state, which was not an EU member. At the official opening of the conference, Prof. Mileva Gjurovska, president of the European Movement in the Republic of Macedonia, also delivered a speech by pointing out that Europe has generally faced a refugee crisis and the difficulties within the EU have stemmed from the disproportionate responsibility of the Member – States. According to her, such a political environment in the EU was favorable for strengthening nationalism and inciting fear of migrants among citizens. It has not contributed to solving the migrant crisis, which also has posed the problem of security, pointed out Gjurovska, while adding that border control has questioned the foundations of the EU, i.e., the fundamental freedoms on which the EU rests, especially the freedom of circulation of people across the European territory. It was also emphasized that the right measures to overcome the consequences of this crisis could be offered by civil society activists, while politicians should more describe the causes of the crisis and work towards its elimination. On behalf of the European Movement International based in Brussels, Deputy-President Ms. Natasa Owens addressed the conference, also being the President of European Movement in Croatia. According to her, solidarity was a key aspect in the approach to migrant crisis. Migration policies would affect the whole of Europe, including countries that were not members. It was necessary to build a common program. Unilateral actions have not led to a solution while it has been a question of refugees or traumatized people seeking salvation, and not migrants seeking a better life, underlined Owens. Johannes D. Ray, Head of the Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for Skopje and Pristina, also took the floor. He noted that it would be good for Macedonia to hold early parliamentary elections on 11 December 2016 as a result of the agreement reached between the political parties. He shared his belief that it was not only the Western Balkan region that has been affected by political, economic, and social crisis. He also noted it seemed that this problem has got out of control not only in the EU, but also in the whole world. According to him, the lack of unity in the EU was a major cause for deepening the refugee crisis. He believed that Macedonia and the entire region were not adequately understood and considered by some people within the EU. He also underlined that we could not achieve order elsewhere, if we failed to maintain in our own house. In his address, Ugo Poli, senior official of the CEI Secretariat in Trieste, highlighted the CEI activities regarding migration. He noted that the crisis we have faced, before becoming migration crisis, initially was a good governance crisis. He considered that the Member States of the EU and its partners were to blame, which, according to him, probably were not able to cope with it. In terms of security and implementation of human rights, effective steps and measures that would promote existing legal regulations in dealing with this issue were lacking. The first panel then proceeded with the topic: Migrant and refugee crisis through the perspective of human rights, humanitarian aid, and security. This panel was moderated by Prof. Dr. Trpe Stojanovski. In his introductory remarks, he noted that the refugee crisis prompted the cooperation among the Balkan countries emphasizing the importance of the security aspect. This panel also included the address by Prof. Dr. Pierre Virgilio Dastoli, President of the European Movement in Italy. According to him, there was need to change the regulations on applying for asylum, and the way refugees were distributed throughout Europe. The migration policy of the European Movement in Italy included a set of proposed measures for distribution of migrants in many towns and villages over a wide area of Italy. He noted that we should not see a problem in migrants and refugees but a chance for the EU and its Member States. In this context, he added that if we open the economic sector and our homes to these refugees and economic migrants, it might represent an economic opportunity for Europe and Italy. According to Prof. Dr. Gul Gunever Turan, President of the European Movement in Turkey, the refugee crisis was far from over, although it seemed that at this point there has been no influx of new refugees to Europe. Still Turkey was a country that was hit the hardest by this problem through the so-called temporary protection of Syrian refugees in Turkey. In Turkey, there were several millions of refugees, mostly young children (many of whom were born in Turkey) and schoolchildren. She noted that they required shelter, education, work permits, and even opportunities to obtain Turkish citizenship, while adding that more aid was needed from EU to Turkey. The European Union ought to be more active in this field as a political entity. The support from many international organizations was visible in the field; still there was need for engagement of human resources, and direct financial assistance to states facing the migrant and refugee crisis. Vladimir Petronijevic, representative of the Belgrade Group 484, pointed to the importance of regional integration in terms of a migrant and refugee crisis. The solution to the crisis was of political nature. The integration of migrants could be achieved if the competent institutions (in the health, education, and social protection sectors) had the capacity to execute this function. It was also pointed that it was not a single crisis, but rather several of them. Tamara Mugosa, representing the MARRI Institute, emphasized the need to redefine and further develop the asylum policy in the region of Western Balkans, which was not adapted to the new conditions. The second panel debated on the topic: Migrant and refugee crisis – the European response. Moderator of this panel was Bernd Huttemann, Deputy President of European Movement International. Given his professionalism, he successfully moderated the panel of speakers encouraging them to make their presentations more inspiring. He has been responsible for the political committee in EMI and actively has participated in the creation of policies including a document titled Migrant and refugee crisis – a European response. This document highlighted the need to build a true common European policy on immigration and asylum. This policy should be consistent with other policies (Post 2015 Development Agenda, the Neighborhood policy, the EU annual enlargement strategy, the 2016 Security Policy). In his presentation, Sebastian Schaffer, official responsible for the Balkans in the Danube Region, noted the efforts of the Institute of integration of the countries of the region including the development of civic society in them. Mihai Sebe, official of the Romania European Institute, shared his consideration that today Europe has faced the biggest challenge since World War II, implying that refugee and migrant crisis were be dealt separately, since refugees have come from countries with armed conflicts, while migrants sought work and better life. Marcin Zaborowski, representative of the Warsaw European Policy Center, noted the risks of the migrant crisis that has changed the environment in the EU. Although Poland has participated in finding common solutions, in reality the policies have not been implemented, while the number of refugees has not been distributed equally. Momcilo Radulovic, representative of the European Movement in Montenegro, underlined the efforts of his country to participate in the creation of common rules concerning the passage of migrants through the Western Balkan region. Denis Sert, representing the European Association of Turkey, underlined that Turkey has addressed in better manner the migrant crisis than the EU Member States, while suggesting that the next problem they would face would likely be education, because most of the refugees were young people. General conclusions of the conference: It is necessary to redefine the EU Migration Policy and speed up the adoption of regulations for the admission of refugees, while never ignoring the issue of human rights. In this context, it is necessary to strengthen the activity of the European Parliament on these issues; Build a common and effective solution and achieve unity within the EU so that migration will not be considered an internal problem, but a problem that affects not only Europe but also the entire world; Strengthen the cooperation among civil society, government bodies, and international organizations in addressing the problems associated with the integration of migrants. Introduce sanctions for Member States that violate the regulations of the Union; Migration and refugee flows should not be seen as a problem but as a positive moment; Migration should be seen as a development component; EU citizens should be reminded of European values, while the new EU citizens should be socialized and should adopt these European values.
Активности.