(Mon) 2 May, 2016 / 19.00 - 21.00 / Cinema Europe - Large Hall

Aftermath or Intermezzo? Refugee Crisis as a Repeat Exam for the European Political Project

Speakers: Ska Keller (Germany), Dejan Jović (Croatia), Emina Bužinkić (Croatia), Gianluca Solera (Italy)

Moderator: Ivana Dragičević (Croatia)

Recent migration flows that have surprisingly shocked Europe and exposed a number of its weaknesses, appear to represent only an introduction into the era of turmoil and uncertainty. Exposed to an increased volume of refugee flows from Syria, but also from other parts of the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Maghreb countries, European political leadership fails to learn from mistakes committed in foreign, neighborhood and trade policies; particularly in places where the EU has been involved in military operations, supporting corrupt elites and conflicts. This is now manifested in the boomerang effect, unfolding wrong strategies in these areas. Europe also behaves as an elephant encountering a mouse: it appears irritated, frightened, panicking. However, that encounter is often interpreted in the wrong way: elephants are not afraid of mice, they are simply unable to properly react to their speed and size. Mice are faster and move in unpredictable way, which poses a problem for elephants’ voluminous size and sight limitations. Likewise, Europe with its 500 million inhabitants has failed to adapt to the initial flow of approximately 1 million refugees that managed to cross the Mediterranean and stumble upon the half-closed doors of Fortress Europe. Some of their sisters, brothers, friends and travel companions were not so lucky, turning the Mediterranean into a graveyard, perhaps a graveyard of human and social Europe we used to know.

With the Schengen system about to collapse, Fortress Europe continues to militarize its external borders. The detriments of the EU-Turkey deal lie in merely postponing the inevitable, and failing to come up with adaptation strategies for future migrant flows that appear to become a permanent situation in the coming years.

Equally concerning is that, at home, these developments are (mis)used to induce politics of fear and distrust, disintegrating European communities along lines of diversity which happened to be an added value. The rise of popularity of the extreme right-wing options across Europe, increased erosion of human rights and freedoms, the return of authoritarianism, criminalization of solidarity, they of these appear to be directly attacking the very heart of the Europe we aim to protect. Some answers are out there, and they reside among the citizens, usually beyond the responsibility of the EU states stuck with the detrimental binding agreement. Refugee crisis therefore presents the opportunity for society to bring about its own solutions, exercise solidarity and civic disobedience, rebelling again and again against Fortress Europe.