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Greece and the Refugee Crisis

Evangelos Venizelos
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Greece, current MP and Vice Chairperson of the Socialist Group in the Council of Europe

In 2016, the EU's main challenge has been the management of the refugee and migration flows entering the Union from Turkey through the gateway of the Greek maritime borders in the Aegean Sea. The main element in this challenge is the conflict between European integration and the sovereignty of Member States. The Member States claim for the expression of European solidarity and support guarding borders as the borders of the EU. But it is obvious that when the arrangements at the EU level are not proven effective, Member States exercises their sovereignty. Under this view, the most simple, practical and highly symbolic measure is the imposition of internal (national) border controls (which are provided in certain cases by the Schengen Treaty). In this case, guarding the external maritime borders of the EU and the effective collaboration with critical neighboring countries, like Turkey, became an issue within NATO's competence and mission, so as to demonstrate that European safety is, already from the last phase of the First World War and obviously from the beginning of the Cold War, a Euro-Atlantic issue. All these circumstances pose the fundamental question of whether the nation state is the most effective crisis manager. The elements that constitute the historical and institutional composition of the state, statehood and sovereignty, are challenged at both levels: the Member State and the Union. This is the fundamental contradiction of Europe; nevertheless, this can also be its major advantage if it leads to the adoption of flexible and creative methods that ensure the prospect of European integration. 

April 27
5-6:30 PM
Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall

Cosponsored by the Onassis Foundation 

IES News

Carlos Reis First Gulbenkian Visiting Professor in Portuguese Studies
IES is pleased to announce that Prof. Carlos Reis from the University of Coimbra will be UC Berkeley’s first incumbent of the Gulbenkian Foundation Visiting Professorship in Portuguese Studies. Prof. Reis is one of Portugal’s most prominent scholars in the field of literary studies. In the Spring 2017 semester, he will be teaching a course entitled “Construções da identidade: Modernidade, modernismo e pós-modernismo” at the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

IES Launches YouTube Lecture Series
Did you miss a lecture you would have loved to attend? No problem, you can now go the new IES YouTube Series, where a selection of lectures is made available online. Every week, new lectures are added to this link:


Every week, new lectures are added to this link.

April 15, 2016: The Refugee Crisis in Germany

Deputy Consul-General of Germany Johannes Bloos, IES Director Jeroen Dewulf and Michael Göring, Chairman of the ZEIT-Stiftung

On April 15, Michael Göring, chairman of the board of the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius, gave a lecture in Moses Hall on the refugee crisis in Germany. As he explained, a combination of war, terrorism and harsh conditions in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq has caused thousands of people to seek refuge in Europe. Many times, their desperateness leads them to enlist dangerous and, often, fatal methods to reach Europe. Chancellor Merkel has declared that Germany, a country with a long history of immigration, can handle this recent influx of refugees, but many German citizens are unsure. Anxiety towards these foreigners, especially as induced by the Paris and Brussels attacks, has led them to question whether helpless families or viscous terrorists have been allowed to enter their country. To alleviate pressure and curb the number of people coming into Germany, Chancellor Merkel entered into a contract with the Turkish government, granting Turkey six billion euros in exchange for the country’s agreement to take back refugees who arrive in Greece from Turkey. While Göring for the most part supports this deal, he expressed some concerns, especially with regards to the Turkish president’s questionable reputation as well as to Turkey’s preparedness to handle such a volume of people. Returning to the reception of refugees by the German population, Göring explained that most Germans are sympathetic to the plight of the refugees but are also stressed and anxious about the situation that has developed in Germany. This stress has resulted in a public mistrust of the government. Some people are skeptical of the refugees’ different cultural backgrounds, customs, and values; however, many people are also welcoming and want to help them, with ten percent of the German population actively contributing to integration efforts. For example, many university students have signed up to provide newly-arrived children with German-language instruction. In a discussion with the audience, Göring was asked if the influx of refugees really threatened German culture. He responded that social cohesion in Germany is strongly tied to a shared language and history. He added, however, that he is confident that refugees will soon learn Germany and integrate in German society. Another audience member asked if enough job and employment opportunities for these people exist in Germany, to which he answered yes. According to Göring, the German economy is currently strong and can support jobs, although better jobs for refugees will require lengthy vocational and language training at low pay. Overall, Göring is optimistic about the situation and believes that Germany will survive this crisis, all while helping millions of displaced people. But he admitted that Germany would face a serious crisis if many more refugees would arrive in the coming months.

Click here to view a video of the lecture.

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