For A Robust Policy Of Integration Of Refugees

migrant_boatClaus Offe, Emeritus Professor in Political Sociology, sets out the options available to policy makers in the EU for managing the refugee crisis and argues that they have the choice between seeing the integration of migrants as either an opportunity to renew the ageing populations of Europe or a challenge to be overcome.

The introduction of a thought-provoking book by Anthony de Jasay on political theory starts with the question: “What would you do if you were the state?” Imagine a reasonably informed, ambitious and unbiased public policy maker facing the challenges of the current refugee crisis – or, for that matter, any responsible citizen asking him- or herself that question. Continue reading

Has liberalism gone missing in East Central Europe, or has it always been absent?

fenceThe refugee crisis highlights that it is time to reassess the contribution of East Central Europe’s mainstream parties of ‘liberals’ who are better at winning elections than at being liberal. James Dawson and Seán Hanley, experts in Central and East European politics at UCL, investigate.

Images from Hungary showing security forces turning tear gas and water cannon on refugees from behind a newly fortified border will come as little surprise to many observers of East Central Europe.

The government of Victor Orbán has systematically exploited the refugee crisis to ramp up a long-standing rhetoric of nationalist intolerance and consolidate its grip on power by passing a raft of emergency powers, further eroding Hungary’s once robust legal checks and balances. Such actions have drawn a storm of international opprobrium – including harsh criticism from the governments of Austria, Croatia and Serbia, all of which have taken a more humane and pragmatic approach to managing the influx of refugees. Continue reading

A Syrian tragedy turning into a European tragedy

grass-fence-border-propertyGëzim Krasniqi, Fellow at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, traces the shifting routes chosen by refugees from Syria—and how the EU’s lack of a coordinated policy has been turning the Syrian tragedy into a European one. It has left the Balkan states with a refugee crisis impossible to master.

The current mass movement of refugees and migrants to Europe crossing several state borders, including the borders of the ‘EU fortress’, is unparalleled in the continent’s modern history. Far from taking a unified stance on the ensuing crisis, countries in the European Union have acted in what has turned out to be a selfish and rather irresponsible manner, with few exceptions. Moreover, the growing refugee and migrant influx has led to a series of diplomatic disputes between EU member states. All this has only made the crisis worse, with consequences both for transit and destination countries as well as for the refugees and migrants themselves. Beyond the mere humanitarian dimension of the situation, the current flow of refugees and migrants raises a number of important issues. Continue reading

Politics, nation and identity in the midst of Hungary’s refugee crisis

industry-rails-train-pathErin Marie Saltman, senior researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, discusses the current refugee crisis, and explores the politics of Hungary’s response to it.  

 


Hungarian political discourse has taken a dark turn as the refugee crisis has been enveloped with fear of a nation losing its identity.

The current crisis that now dominates headlines has shown images of Syrian refugees quarantined within Hungarian train stations, protesting for the right to safely pursue new lives in Europe as asylum seekers. Yet even before the current crisis now affecting Hungary, despite being a country with a relatively low influx and outflux of migrants, the topic of immigration has become increasingly salient with strong political divides.

Thousands of refugees have been sleeping for several days in train stations, many refused transportation onward – despite many being ticket holders. A large group of refugees have even begun to walk the 110 miles to Austria in desperation. The current situation is unquestionably severe. 160,000 migrants are estimated as having entered Hungary this year, mainly en route to various other destinations. Migrants have held demonstrations in Budapest, welcomed by heavy police presence, asking that they be allowed to leave on trains bound westward, where they hope for a more amenable situation. Continue reading