International Relations Society Continues Discussion of European Refugee Crisis

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The International Relations Society Panel

The International Relations Society Panel

On October 26th, the International Relations Society hosted a panel discussion on “The Refugee Crisis: Perspectives from Eastern Europe”. Panelists included Professor Lars Rensmann, head of the JCU Department of Political Science and International Affairs, Laszlo Galantai, Political Attaché at the Hungarian Embassy in Rome, and Dragana Vukovic, Senior Adviser at the Serbian Embassy in Rome.

Galantai expressed his concerns about the media coverage of the refugee crisis, stressing how focus seems to be placed solely on negative events. Galantai underlined the changing public opinion around Europe, as more countries are growing reluctant to accept refugees. Galantai further asserted that Europe should help resolve the Syrian conflict through a means that also aids to keep refugees close to Syria in order to ease their return homewards.

Senior Adviser at the Serbian Embassy in Rome, Dragana Vukovic, stressed how Serbia has served as a transition country for refugees, noting that only 600 of the 200,000 refugees that passed through Serbia requested asylum. She also drew attention to the strong empathy shared by the Serbians in regards to the crisis, as they likewise hold a history of being refugees.

Addressing the question of whether Europe should help the Middle East in achieving peace, Prof. Rensmann said it would not be possible due to the European Union’s lack of a common foreign policy. Instead, Rensmann focused on the positive aspects of the recent influx of refugees. He pointed out the relationship between Europe’s declining population and an increasing demand for both skilled and unskilled workers. He further noted that right-wing parties have not been on the rise in Europe.

Concluding the panel discussion, audience members posed questions and discussed the various potential solutions to the refugee crisis.This panel discussion offered JCU students further perspectives on the refugee crisis. Previous panel discussions on the refugee crisis included notable guest speakers from the Croatian Embassy in Rome, and from the non-governmental organization ‘Hungarian Europe Society.’