The conference investigated the social and political roots of the current crisis; the characteristic national responses in the central European region; and the impact the crisis is likely to have on the already substantial populist movements across Europe. The new analysis by the Policy Solution entitled “Political Communication of the Refugee Crisis in Central and Eastern Europe” was also introduced at the conference.
The event started with the opening statements by Vassilis Ntousas, international relations policy adviser (FEPS) and by Hedwig Giusto, senior policy advisor (FEPS). In his introductory speech, Vassilis Ntousas emphasized that the refugee crisis has brought up the conflict between the states’ and the European interests. Hedwig Giusto defined the refugee crisis as a global problem which cannot be solved in a short period. According to Giusto the refugee crisis can be a huge opportunity for the European Union to play an active and important role solving the crisis on the European level.
After the opening statements by FEPS, Tamás Boros, co-director of Policy Solutions, presented the main findings of Policy Solutions’ study. In his presentation he emphasized that the refugee crisis is not only humanitarian problem, but it also causes a political crisis for the European Union, because this is the first time when a whole region (the Visegrád group) of the EU is opposed to the European values and interests. Mr. Boros analysed the cleavage opened up between the eastern and western member states and their different reactions to the refugee crisis.
In the second part of the conference Eszter Zalán from EUobserver, Elsa Laino from Solidar and Julien Zalc from TNS Opinion discussed why this topic has become the most disputed political issue of the year. Eszter Zalán underlined that there were several well-prepared and correct press releases about the refugee crisis, however, especially in the beginning the media did not check all of the facts and did not understand the weight of the crisis. Ms. Zalán explained these mistakes with the lack of experience.
Elsa Laino drew attention to the role of the civil society in this case. She thinks that initiations of the civil society could achieve success, but she emphasized also the pressure and offense these NGOs have to face with. According to Ms. Laino NGOs should be part of the political discussions and should play a significant role in solving the problem.
Julien Zalc presented how the European public opinion see the refugee crisis. Mr. Zalc emphasized that the European citizens perceive the refugee crisis as a highlighted problem judging by the increased worries in the last period. In the European level the immigration is the main anxiety and in several EU countries it is one of the greatest fears. Julien Zalc also stated that the two third of European public opinion would like to have a common (European) decision to be made concerning the refugee crisis.
Our analysis on The Political Communication of the Refugee Crisis in Central and Eastern Europe can be downloaded from here.
Policy Solutions is a progressive political research institute based in Budapest. It was founded in 2008 and it is committed to the values of liberal democracy, solidarity, equal opportunity and European integration. The focus of Policy Solutions’ work is on understanding political processes in Hungary and the European Union. Among the pre-eminent areas of our research are the investigation of how the quality of democracy evolves, the analysis of factors driving euroscepticism, populism and the far-right, and election research.
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