“The EU, Turkey and the East Mediterranean”

The Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence of the University of Athens organized an educational seminar titled “The EU, Turkey and the East Mediterranean”, and announced up to 30 scholarships.


The seminar took place within the framework of the European project “European Governance of Migration: The External Dimensions” (2017-2020), co-funded by the European Commission and the University of Athens. The Scientific Coordinator of the project is Professor Yannis Valinakis, President of the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence – University of Athens.

The course consisted of seven weekly afternoon meetings, along with two researchers’ workshops and is addressed to university students, graduates, researchers of relevant specialties, students of police, military and coast guard academies, as well as to any interested person.



Migration is a global phenomenon and various management efforts have been undertaken world- wide. This seminar focused on the roots of the massive migration/ refugee flows mainly from the East Mediterranean/ Middle East (i.e. Syria, Iraq. Lybia etc.) and their journey through Turkey to the EU. The seminar will also examine the general theoretical and historical framework and the roles of transit countries, with the aim to identify the differences within the EU member states while further exploring Greece’s part.

Participants will have the chance to be part of a research group and publish Policy papers or have an active role as rapporteurs. The programme also offers traineeship opportunities for university students, graduates, doctoral students or young professionals. Finally, participants who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation.

The lectures be delivered in Greek and a distance learning option was also available.



Meeting Date Title
1st Monday 29/10/2018 Modern types of Migration- History and causes
Researchers Workshop Thursday 1/11/2018 1st researchers’ meeting
2nd Monday 5/11/2018 The 2015 refugee crisis and the EU management acts
3rd Monday 12/11/2018 The european crisis management- Recent developments
4th Monday 19/11/2018 The role of Turkey
5th Monday 26/11/2018 The special role of Greece
Researchers Workshop Monday 3/12/2018 2nd researchers’ meeting



Press releases


 Modern Migration Types – Historical Background and Causes


The 1st session titled “The refugee crisis of 2015 and its European management”, was successfully held on October 29th, 2018, in the context of the Training Seminar “The European Migration Management in the Eastern Mediterranean: The EU, Turkey and Greece”. Coordinator was Professor Yannis Valinakis,President of the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence and speakers Mr. Angelos Tramountanis, EKKE Researcher, Mr. Alexandros Zavos, President of the Institute for Immigration Policy, Mr. Petros Mastakas, UNHCR representative, and Mr. Ioannis Stribis, Associate Professor of the University Aegean Sea.


Mr Aggelos Tramountanis provided an overview of the historical context and forms of immigration from the 18th century onwards to the modern forms of migration. Some of the issues raised were the “coolie” – form of employment, the concept of the proletariat, the decolonization which led to the return to the concept of metropoli. Moreover, in his presentation Mr Tramountanis referred to the creation of the EU which was a leading cause for the free move of workers’ for economic reasons, and completed his speech with the example of Greece’s transformation from a country of immigration to a host country.


Then, Mr Zavos, referred to G. Kennedy’s words, that the immigration crisis is, at the same time, creating both risks and opportunities. He also provided some figures indicating how important migration flows will be in the coming years worldwide. Finally, he referred to two very important categories of modern immigration: the brain-drain and climate migrants and refugees.


The third speaker Mr Mastakas, who overturned the data by saying that we can not talk about a 2015 humanitarian crisis but only a political one, noting that at least one of the internationally-established indicators must be met in order to talk about a humanitarian crisis. Next, referring to the EU-Turkey Agreement of 2016 and the European Directive (33/2013) on the requirements for the reception of applicants for international protection, he raised the key question that guided this 1st module “How much is enough?” – How many asylum applications should be accepted by a country, how many officials in the Competent Authorities should be employed, and finally, how many immigrants can Europe eventually accept?


Finally, Mr. Strimbis, academic coordinator of the Educational Programme, pointed out the discretion of each state to determine immigrant reception rules, while taking into account its sovereignty. He went on to report on international UN texts focusing on the category of migrant workers, as well as, on the report on the Trafficking Protocol and Protocol against smuggling. He also talked about the out-of-court examination of asylum applications by giving the example of Australia.


The 2015 refugee crisis and its European management


The 2nd session titled “The refugee crisis of 2015 and its European management” took place in the context of the Training Seminar “The European Migration Management in the Eastern Mediterranean: The EU, Turkey and Greece” on November 5th, 2018. Coordinator was Professor Yannis Valinakis President of the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence and the speakers were Dr. Stefanos Vallianatos Hellenic Culture Foundation representative, Konstantinos Filis, Director of Research of the Institute of International Relations, Ioannis Karageorgopoulos, Vice Commander of the Hellenic Coastguard. and Honorary Director of the Security and Policing Division, Ms. Angeliki Fanaki Director of the Hellenic Red Cross Programme Management Department and Doctor Apostolos Veizis, Project Manager of “Médecins Sans Frontières”.


Mr. Vallianatos referred to the origin of the migratory movements of the period, particularly affecting Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Special mention was made of the situation of Syria with the 250,000 dead, the ongoing embarrassment and ISIS, with the aim of establishing a territorial establishment. For this state, the consequences of non-existence and inability to form a civil society emerged.


He was followed by Mr. Konstantinos Filis, Director of Research at the Institute of International Relations, who developed the management aspect of the refugee issue on the part of the European Union. There were significant differences in the current crisis of 2015 compared to others, such as those of the 1990s. Special reference was made to the ways in which the refugee issue was met and the prevailing political formations.


Mr Karageorgopoulos stressed the fact that Greece, with a 2,000 km sea front and potential landing sites in 25 different Aegean islands, is a transit area and not an end destination. He also presented the official data and the percentage breakdown by nationality of the refugees who have landed in Greece and the rapid increase in flows from 2015 onwards, comparing them to the relevant statistics of the previous decade.


The Greek Red Cross was represented by Dr. Angeliki Fanaki who started her presentation with a video, with snapshots of the action in the field. Extensive reference was made to the question of the regular funding of the agency and the raising of additional funds from its headquarters in Switzerland. The speaker enhanced her speech by referring to the impact and great contribution of the volunteers in helping the beneficiaries.


The final speaker Mr. Apostolos Veizis, Program Officer of the organization “Doctors Without Borders” emphasized on the organization’s dual role: medical practice and testimony. Testimony refers to the accurate and clear reproduction of the real situation, both in the structures and in other areas, where the organisation operates. The presentation ended with a series of photographs about the real situation inside the camps.


The European crisis management- Recent developments


In the framework of the training seminar “Management of the EU’s external borders in the Eastern Mediterranean”, the 3rd session entitled “ The European crisis management- Recent developments ” was successfully held on November 12th, 2018.


Coordinator of the discussion was Ms. Panagiota Manoli, Assistant Professor of Political Economy of International Relations at the Department of Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean (Rhodes – Greece).


In his presentation, Mr Ioannis Stribis, Assistant Professor of International Institutions at the University of the Aegean, first highlighted the underlying phenomenon of the migrant crisis related to the need for long-term and coordinated EU action in order to be able to respond effectively. Mr Stribis focused on the conclusions of the European Council of 28 June 2018 and presented the six key EU action guidelines. In his overall assessment of the above complex strategy, Mr Stribis first referred to the problem of the inherent conflict of effective border control policies and international search and rescue obligations, while also identifying significant practical problems.


Next speaker, Ms Metaxia Kouskouna, Assistant Professor of European Law at the School of Law of the University of Athens, focused on the legal framework under which the overall effort to tackle the immigration problem in the EU is attempted and evolved. Ms Kouskouna presented briefly the laws specifically governing the production of EU legal acts in the fields of asylum, immigration and control of its external borders. It was further noted that the nature of the EU’s competences in these areas is concurrent and implemented mainly through the ordinary legislative procedure, while it is also providing parliamentary and judicial scrutiny of the relevant EU rules of law.


Finally, in his speech Dr. Nicholas Lambas, Visiting Researcher at the University of the Peloponnese, presented a detailed analysis of the national policies of dealing with the migrant crisis and in particular the cases of Germany and Italy. Mr Lambas’ comparative analysis highlighted the similar and simultaneous tendency to tighten immigration policy in the above countries despite their different manifestations such as the refusal to dock rescue vessels, agreements with third countries for offshore management, the imposition of entry and family reunion restrictions and the reintroduction of controls at the EU’s internal borders. In addition, he referred to the timely determinants of policy formulation such as national identity issues and labor market needs, while exploring the creation of narratives that present immigrants and refugees as a threat to the security and economy of European states.


The role of Turkey


In the framework of the training seminar “Management of the EU’s external borders in the Eastern Mediterranean”, the 4th session titled “ The role of Turkey ” was successfully held on November 19th, 2018. The seminar was hosted at the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) building in Plaka. Coordinator was Professor Yannis Valinakis President of the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence.


In his presentation, the first speaker Mr. Manolis Kostidis, freelance journalist and SKAI Channel correspondent, initially emphasized on Turkey’s positive role in dealing with the migration crisis, characterizing it as “the fort that stops the refugee flow”. Mr. Kostidis cited important data on hospitality and relatively decent living, despite any problems, of more than 4,000,000 refugees and immigrants in Turkey, which is an essential shield of protection for Greece and the EU, in general, from new mass inflows. The speaker stressed the fact that Turkey is a reliable partner in managing this problem despite its internal problems. However, he also referred to the strengthening of Turkey’s negotiating power on the issue and the possible complications in its relations with Greece.


Moving on to the second presentation and after a brief historical overview of the relation between the EU and Turkey, Dr Thanos Dockos, General Manager of ELIAMEP stated that Turkey remains an important strategic partner for the EU. as a destination for capital and products, an energy hub and an embankment for migratory pressures. He also predicted that these pressures will shift further in the near future in the area of Africa.


Mr. Dimitrios Triantafyllou, Associate Professor at Kadir Has University, referred to the same issue but focused on six key observations concerning: (a) the failed attempts to export the European framework due to internal disagreements b) the possibility of communication with Turkey despite significant problems in its accession path c) the need for an alternative plan for Greece should Turkey’s democratization process further halt (d) the impact of the refugee issue on Turkey’s internal social structure and related political affiliations e) the problems of Greece’s asylum system; and f) the religious dimension of the Turkish strategic penetration into the Balkans.


Finally, in his presentation Mr. Angelos Syrigos, Associate Professor of Panteion University, presented detailed statistics that illustrate the significant decline in migration flows following the closure of the Balkan way and the EU – Turkey agreement / statement. In addition, after expressing his concern about the tragic living conditions in the first identification spots on the islands, he proceeded on expressing his wonder on why the number of returns to turkey remains low despite the recent reform of the relevant legislative framework. Moreover, while investigating the causes of this phenomenon, he referred to the negligence and disorganization of the relevant services. Concluding, he noted the recent shift of migration flows to Evros and stressed that if the number of returns to Turkey did not increase “the whole system would collapse”.


The special role of Greece


In the framework of the training seminar “Management of the EU’s external borders in the Eastern Mediterranean”, the 5th and final session titled “The special role of Greece ” was successfully held on November 26th, 2018. The seminar was hosted at the building of the Delegation of the European Commission. Coordinator was Professor Yannis Valinakis President of the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence.


The first speaker Mr. Panagiotis Tsakonas, Professor at the University of the Aegean, focused on the EU’s institutional initiatives during the crisis of 2015 and the “special” sessions which were held in order to manage the issue. He then referred to the resettlement mechanism, highlighting resettlement figures obtained before and after the EU-Turkey Agreement. In conclusion, he stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy to tackle migration through a ‘willing alliance’, the implementation of the Common European Asylum System, possible migration partnerships with countries of origin and transit and, finally, extra-territorial management for safe travels.


Lieutenant General Christos Poulianitis (Hellenic National Defence General Staff/ 1st Branch of Operations) presented the action of the armed forces and all three sectors to manage the migration / refugee flows from 2015 onwards. The speaker in his presentation dealt with the creation and management of reception and hosting structures for migrants / refugees, as well as operational actions, within the framework of NATO’s Aegean mission of surveillance of the external borders in relation to migration. He presented detailed statistics on specific actions in this context and clarified the parameters of the contribution of the armed forces to the overall Greek national policy on migration.


The next speaker, Lieutenant General of the Hellenic Police Ms. Zacharoula Tsirigoti made an extensive reference to the immediate and long-term measures having been used in order to deal with the migration crisis. Ms Tsirigoti analyzed the importance of the interoperability of European Information Systems (EES) through the use of various systems and the positive results of debriefing in the fight against illegal immigration and organized crime. In conclusion, she highlighted the holistic approach of cooperation at national, European and international level to address security challenges.


Final speaker Mr Georgios Christianos, Deputy Chief of the Hellenic coastguard, referred to the Hellenic Coastguard’s strategies for more effective maritime border surveillance, focusing on the eastern Aegean islands as the ones being directly affected. In addition, he focused on international business partnerships and the Poseidon operation highlighting the challenges, risks and operational parameters that need to be considered in emergency rescue operations. Finally, he stressed the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation between the Navy and Coastguard. as well as international co-operation with Turkey and NATO.


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