October 16, 2015

Refugees, Refugees and Even More Refugees

AFP/Scanpix

Europe is facing its largest refugee crisis since World War II. So far, each member state has been trying to cope with the flood of people on its own, but it has become clear that we need a common response. That is what the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marina Kaljurand, writes about — she thinks that the future of the European Union following the crisis depends on our ability to cooperate.

“If we are able to make European values and cooperation a priority, we could become stronger and more united as a result of this crisis,” she writes. “Otherwise, there is a risk that the EU will change: the Schengen system vanishes, borders close, free movement disappears, new dividing lines emerge and so on. We would definitely not like these changes.”
The Istanbul-based freelance journalist Hille Hanso interviews four Syrian refugees who live in that city. They talk about Western stereotypes about Syrians and the war making life impossible in Syria. The Syrians think that among asylum seekers it is important to try and differentiate between people who really need help and fraudsters.
Helga Kalm, a junior research fellow at the ICDS, argues that refugees are beginning to understand the impossibility of returning home since the war shows no signs of stopping.
Kai Kaarelson, head of the Estonian president’s foreign policy department, is convinced that foreign policy is more successful (especially in times of crisis) if we are able to look at the world through the eyes of our opponents. “Empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of others—ideally extends to both friends and enemies,” she writes. “Without a doubt, the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes gives a strong advantage in interpreting reality for both states and people.”
Kaja Kallas, an Estonian MEP, writes about the need for a European Energy Community. She finds that an energy community is primarily important for consumers. “Today, consumers in many countries cannot choose between different suppliers because they are registered with large producers and changing suppliers is not straightforward. Likewise, consumers are not sufficiently informed to make a considered choice,” writes Kallas.
Piret Pernik, a research fellow at the ICDS, writes that, despite its small size, Estonia has succeeded in being a big player in cyberspace. She considers cyber security as a foreign and security policy issue.

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