Next up were our special guests, members of the award-winning Debate Club of Belgrade Faculty of Political Science who, modelled after the British parliamentary debate, offered their arguments in favor and against the controversial thesis how migrants can be “sold” to other countries willing to accept them, all in order to ease the pressure on labor markets of more developed countries. A big round of applause went to Selena Torlakovic, Helena Ivanov, Stefan Siridzanski and Djordje Jovicevic.
On Saturday morning, 22 February, Deputy Director of the Directorate for Policy Planning in the Council of Europe, Mr. Michael Remmert sketched out the “infrastructure” of irregular migrations originating from Western Balkans. His three main points: on cash benefits being provided to asylum seekers in Western Europe, role of diaspora as a “support network” and travel agencies operating all but ilegally were further elaborated in the ensuing discussion, with seasonal employment as a potential corrective measure.
Grigoris Tsioukas then guided us through the evolution of migration issues in Greece since 1990. One of the most striking pieces of data in his presentation was that “there are no official and reliable data on ilegally staying foreigners (third country nationals) in Greece at this moment” and that conservative estimates run around 300,000. Ioannis Papageorgiou followed with how the original system of asylum in Greece had collapsed, highlighting the inter-connection and effects it had on the EU.
Day Three, Sunday, 23 February
Day three of our program in Nish was entirely devoted to understanding mixed migration (flows). Vladimir Petronijevic, Group 484 Executive Director, explained how people move through the region: where are the entry points and which the most likely routes are by using the statistics made available by EU’s FRONTEX agency. With Despina Syrri’s interventions, we could all draw a map of movements, and see how they have changed in the past three years. Miroslava Jelacic, Group 484′s Legal Analyst, on the practical example of migration profiles showed us that countries in the region have no accurate statistics – meaning they are not really thinking forward and preparing for what will come.
First part of Vladimir and Miroslava’s presentation was closed with debating the political context surrounding the migration debate in Western European countries who are leading members of the European Union. We then proceeded with Miroslava’s case study of (failings of) asylum system in Serbia. Through statistics, media reports and photographs, Miroslava painted a hardly flattering picture on the state of mind and debate; reminded us all of the living conditions people in transit (persons who are trying to reach Western Europe through the Balkans route) experience, while Vladimir asked the audience what is their take on migrations policies now.
Finally, last part of RAD program for day three was organized in cooperation with Roma community leaders in Nish – Osman Balic, Ferhad Saiti and Turkijan Redzepi. In three groups, our participants visited the “Beograd-mala”, largest Roma settlement in Nish. What they saw and heard was heart-moving and thought-provoking. We will finish the seminar on Monday morning by conversing with these same leaders.