On January 15th 2016 I had the great pleasure to be a panelist, at the kind invitation of the Romanian Association for International Relations and European Studies (ARRISE), in the international conference Exploring Solutions to Combat Rising Political Radicalism in Europe that took place in Bucharest, Romania.
The event was part of the transnational project European Citizens Initiative to Combat Political Extremism and Euroskepticism, implemented by Republikon Foundation in Hungary, financed by the Europe for Citizens program of the European Commission. It was conducted in English and it took place at the premises of the National University of Political Science and Public Administration (NUPSA).
The conference aimed to offer a platform of dialogue and cooperation for academics, youth activists, social entrepreneurs, NGO representatives, international practitioners and public servants dealing with contemporary European affairs. The general scope of the meeting was to reflect and share views on the complex causes and consequences of political radicalization emerged in the recent years which become a direct threat to European stability. The risks of political extremism in the EU where discussed in two panels focused from both an inside and outside EU perspective, concentrating mainly on potential solutions. Another topic of discussion regarded the possible sources of Euroscepticism and the consequences of the most recent elections in Poland and France.
I was really impressed by the quality of this debate that brought together Romanian and foreign experts and representatives of civil society to talk about the most recent trends and the various forms of political radicalism which became a visible threat for the EU – both from within – poverty, youth unemployment, the rise of extremist right wing movements, as well as from outside EU – the conflict in Ukraine, illegal migration, the wave of refugees and the threat of terrorism.
I took part in the first panel Factors of Political Radicalization in the context of the Refugee Crisis alongside Mr. Lucian CÎRLAN, PhD Candidate, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris-Sorbonne) & New Europe College Bucharest (NEC), Ms. Fatma YLMAZ, MA student, NUPSPA and Mr. Antonio MOMOC, PhD, Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences, University of Bucharest. The Panel was superbly moderated by our host Ms. Miruna TRONCOTĂ, PhD, ARRISE/ECSA Romania.
My presentation entitled Romania’s position in the refugee crisis related to the Romanian authorities’ reaction in front of the refugee crisis. What is to be noted early on is Romania’s lack of experience with the refugees mainly the very low number of refugees that arrived in Romania in the last 25 years – Romania has so far, within the European Union Member States, the lowest percentage of the total population formed by immigrants that raised from 0.6% (in 1990) to just 0.9% (in 2013, according to UN Data). This low percentage is due to the low number of persons who filled asylum requests in Romania: from 1991 until December 31st 2013 approx. 25 100 asylum requests were registered in Romania out of which approx. 5 200 were approved (according to UNHCR). As for the year 2015 Romania received from January 1st until September 30th 2015 a total number of 944 asylum requests (according to the Romanian Government).
The important thing in this crisis is to differentiate between economic migrants and the refugees. Also is has to be noted that even if the Romanian authorities opposed the compulsory quotas regarding the refugees the public speeches show a high level of adversity toward any type of xenophobia. Moreover no official connection between Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area and the refugee crisis was done.
Following Romania’s stance shown above we can now clearly stipulate the following:
- The short term solution for the refugee crisis is to heavily invest in the countries that have received so far the majority of Syrian refugees – namely: Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
- The long term solution is to secure the state of Syria, eliminate the radical presence there and rebuild the state.
- EU external borders must be reinforced.
- Europe’s need a common migration policy that must take into consideration the Member States needs and capabilities to assimilate the immigrants.
- The Eastern European States have difference capabilities and sensitives in regards with the immigrants then the Western Europe and these specific differences must be taken into consideration when we analyses the current situation.
- Besides the humanitarian aspect must also be analyzed the security, social and economic aspects of the refugee crisis.
- We need to create a European wide procedure and working instruments to deal with the immigrants.
- There is no single magic bullet that can solve the current problem – the quota solution must not be considered as a permanent mechanism as this crisis must not be allow to become a permanent one.
Special thanks were addressed to the Institute of European Democrats who had the initiative of this research.
The full paper is available online at http://www.iedonline.eu/publications/2015/romania-refugee-crisis.php
Here is also a link to the Facebook page of the event https://www.facebook.com/events/1104983156179225/
The fulls synopsis of the conference is available online at http://europunkt.ro/2016/01/22/conferinta-internationala-exploring-solutions-to-combat-rising-political-radicalism-in-europe/ (available only in Romanian).