The EU External Borders management
Seminar “Managing the EU’s External Borders in the Eastern Mediterranean”
General Introduction – External security, energy & maritime zones at the EU external borders in the Eastern Mediterranean
The first session of the training seminar entitled “General Introduction – External Security, Energy & Maritime Zones at the EU’s External Borders in the Eastern Mediterranean” organized by the University of Athens’s Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence, took place on Monday, April 16, 2018 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hall “G. Kranidiotis”.
The event was coordinated by Prof. Yannis Valinakis, President of the European Center of Excellence Jean Monnet of the University of Athens. The keynote address of the day was made by Mr. Ioannis Amanatidis, Deputy Foreign Minister, who supported the position of the Ministry that Greek borders are also European borders. The combination of inland and island territory that forms the European border of Greece-Cyprus is not only the border of the European Union in the Eastern Mediterranean, but at the same time delimits the political-geographical area founded and governed by the principles and values of Greek and European culture. Mr Amanatidis also stressed the need for coordination at European level to tackle refugee and migration flows, while he also referred to the role of the Greek Police and the Coast Guard in carrying out the difficult task they have undertaken, together with Frontex. Turkey’s special role in stopping the flow was also noted.
Next speaker Mr. Angelos Syrigos, Associate Professor of International Law & Foreign Policy at Panteion University focused on Turkey’s claims to the Eastern Mediterranean. Dr. Konstantinos Filis, Research Director of the Institute of International Relations, referred to the European Union’s energy security, and how it is associated with potential threats and opportunities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Finally, Ms. Maria Gavouneli, Assistant Professor of International Law at the University of Athens raised questions of Sea Law making with particular reference to corresponding decisions of international justice. She specifically referred to the 1976 case of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which deals with the Aegean continental shelf, as well as the case of Guyana v. Suriname (2007). These cases have been presented in order to better understand the case of the Eastern Mediterranean in terms of its legal dimension with regard to the rights to research and exploit submarine wealth.
Migration / refugee flows, organized crime, fundamentalism and their management at the EU’s external borders
The second session of the educational seminar entitled “Migration / refugee flows, organized crime, fundamentalism and their management at the external borders of the EU” organized by the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence, University of Athens, was successfully held on April 23, 2018 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “G. Kranidiotis” hall.
The event was coordinated by Mr. Panagiotis Ioakimidis, Emeritus Professor Emeritus of European Policy and Integration at the National Center for Integration. The first speaker Mr. George Vourekas, Admiral Ea, former Commander of Maritime Operations and Advisor to FRONTEX, referred to the role of FRONTEX in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean. Subsequently, Mr. Sotiris Roussos, Assoc. Professor of the University of the Peloponnese, Scientific Director of the Center for Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies raised the issue of whether or not refugee flows are linked to fundamentalism. Then followed the presentation of Mr Yiannis Hatzigiannis, European Commission representative.
After the break, Mr George Christianos, Hellenic Coast Guard referred to numbers on refugee / migrant flows as well as to operational-level issues. Mr. Alexandros Angelopoulos, Hellenic Police Director referred to the role of the Greek Police in managing the refugee / migration issue.
The consequences of the migrant and refugee crisis on local economies at the EU’s external borders
The third session of the educational seminar entitled “The consequences of the migrant and refugee crisis on local economies at the EU’s external borders” organized by the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence, University of Athens, was successfully held on April 30, 2018, at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry “Hermes” Conference hall, as part of the training seminar entitled “The Management of the EU’s External Borders in the Eastern Mediterranean”
Coordinator was Ms. Alexandra Tragaki, Assoc. professor of Demography Economics at the Department of Geography of Harokopio University.
The first speaker Mr. Georgios Markopouliotis, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Greece, began his presentation by discussing the consequences of the refugee crisis in local communities and economies. He then focused his speech on three specific point. First with a review of the situation on the islands since the peak of the crisis in 2015 till today, concentrating on the differences that can be seen in the period between and after the EU-Turkey agreement and specifically in the way local communities dealt with the situation with the help of the European Commission. Secondly, with examples of actions targeted at the reinforcement of local communities and economies and finally providing the audience with recent research conducted by the European Commission examining the policies of 70 local communities in Europe, which resulted into the presentation of the best practices used. He concluded by emphasizing on the importance of refugee integration in Europe and Greece, specifically.
Next speaker Mr. Michalis Aggelopoulos, Mayor of Samos Island, Attorney at Law, Athens Bar Association, referred to the multiple role of the refugee crisis characterizing it as local, regional, economic and ecumenical. He then stressed the key role of political will on the issue. Thus, the European Commission, despite its own will, usually loses its rights due to the member states’ policies that might be incapable, xenophobic and inadequate to face the situation. The situation on the island of Samos was extensively analyzed and the speaker concluded by focusing on the importance of the possibility of growth, which can be achieved by a real strategy in the light of the recent crisis.
Ms. Konstantina Svinou, representative of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, member of the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasting, referred to the difficulties that the refugee crisis imposed on the economy, which are still present and evolving. Ms. Svinou mentioned the geopolitical importance of the islands which has contributed to the existing situation and their role as first reception centers. She finally, stressed the fact that the five islands Mytilini, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos had to deal with the whole situation by themselves with the help only of volunteers and businessmen who were helping each on their own way, despite the arising economic problems.
Next speaker, Mr Harris Kokkosis, Professor, Department of Spatial Planning, Urban Planning and Regional Development, University of Thessaly who began his speech by stating that tourism is a very dynamic industry worldwide. He then proceeded by mentioning data concerning the tourist flows in Greece and Europe in general, focusing also on a shift in lows from Europe to Eastern countries. Mr. Kokkisis also talked about the power of instant information and its effect on tourism along with the negative results recent developments on refugee crisis can have on tourism. This can be considered a crucial factor, since travelers are mainly want to feel secure when travelling to a place.
Ms. Evangelia Kasimati representative of the Economic Analysis and Research Department of the Bank of Greece in her presentation referred to the migration and refugee flows in Greece in the period of 2015-2017. Ms Kasimati who based her speech on the recently published article she and Ms Panagiotopoulou the next speaker wrote, talked about the evolution of migration flows throughout the country and how they can affect many different areas such as economy and employment. Concluding, she made a reference to other areas of interest regarding the refugee crisis, such as the EU funding toward Greece and the opinion of the local communities.
The presentation was continued by Ms. Kalliroi Panagiotopoulou Professor Emeritus at the Media and Communication Department of University of Athens. Ms. Panagiotopoulou focused on the immediate benefits that the integration of migrants and refugees can have for a country. She specifically mentioned the example of Germany and the increase in births only two years after the mass income of refugees in the country. She then continued by stating that no policy can be successful if it is not based primarily on social acceptance. The speaker presented facts that prove the negative opinion Greeks have towards the refugee flows. She finally suggested that the public opinion has to change in order to be able to successfully tackle the refugee issue.