Time and location

Tuesday, 25 February 2020, 19:00 - 21:00
Diplomatic Academy, Festsaal
Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna


Gerald Knaus, policy advisor, director of the Eurpean Stability Initiative (ESI), Berlin

Alida Vračić, political scientist, director of the think-tank Populari, Sarajewo. Vienna

Olivia Akumu, analyst, Mixed Migration Centre (MMC), Nairobi

Moderation: Stephanie Fenkart, IIP
Welcome: Franz Schmidjell, VIDC

Language: English

Registration: schmidjell@remove-this.vidc.org

Fortress Europe? Current migration trends and European responses

© istock/seyhan
© istock/seyhan


Refugees are today living under catastrophic conditions in Bosnian and Greek camps. Migrants are dying in prisons in Libya and Egypt, in the Mediterranean Sea, and in the Sahara Desert. East Africa and the Horn of Africa together host 4.2 million refugees and 9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Basic services such as food, shelter, healthcare, and education will face further cuts in 2020 if no additional funding is made available.

Due to decisive EU interventions, including the EU-Turkey Statement, cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard, and the EU’s imposition of anti-migration laws for some African countries, irregular arrivals in the EU have decreased drastically since 2015. Furthermore, to prevent irregular migration, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX will be strengthened with up to 10.000 guards.

According to the Austrian government program, anyone who tries to “illegally” cross any EU border should be brought back – in compliance with international law – to their country of origin, the previous country of transit, or another safe third country. At the same time, the so-called Austrian “Hilfe vor Ort” approach remains a general statement without the necessary resources.

A fair, orderly, and regular migration management system – such as the one agreed upon in the UN Global Compact on Migration – is only possible with an equitable dialogue between the countries of origin, transit, and destination as well as a proper understanding of regional migration dynamics and the complex causes and patterns of migration. This includes the increasingly common trend of circular migration, whereby migrants move repeatedly between two or more countries.

This discussion will seek to answer the following questions: What are the current migration trends in the surrounding regions that might affect Europe? What is the human price that migrants and refugees have to pay for a “Europe that protects”? Why do refugees face such dangerous and inhumane conditions in Bosnian and Greek camps? To what extent do EU countries support the millions of refugees in East Africa?


Gerald Knaus

is the founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative (ESI), a think tank with offices in Berlin, Brussels, and Vienna. ESI focuses on South East Europe and the Caucasus, European enlargement, and the future of EU foreign policy. Gerald Knaus studied in Oxford, Brussels, and Bologna, taught economics at the State University of Chernivtsi in Ukraine, and spent five years working for NGOs and international organisations in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. He co-authored the book "Can Intervention Work?" among others. He is considered the architect of the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement and has, in 2019, made a similar policy proposal for the Central Mediterranean called "The Gambia Plan". Gerald Knaus is based in Berlin and writes the www.rumeliobserver.eu blog.

Alida Vračić

is a political scientist and director of the Populari institute in Sarajevo, a widely recognised research centre for European integration, politics, good governance, and civil society in the Western Balkan region. She is a Europe Futures Fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) and ERSTE foundation in Vienna and a visiting fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin. She worked for the State Court prosecutor’s team and at the Human Rights Commission within the Constitutional Court of Bosnia. Alida Vračić holds a Master of Science in international public policy from University College London, and she completed the executive education program of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has also studied criminal proceedings and the penal system in Graz, Austria.

Olivia Akumu

is a mixed migration researcher at the Mixed Migration Centre for East Africa in Nairobi and currently manages MMC’s 4Mi project – a primary quantitative data collection project, collecting data with refugees and migrants on the move in mixed migration flows. She is an experienced analyst and project manager with a background in migration, humanitarian crises and displacement in the Horn of Africa and Yemen region. She holds a Master of Laws from the University of Essex in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Manchester. Olivia Akumu lives in Nairobi.

Stephanie Fenkart

is director at the International Institute for Peace (IIP) since 2016, an association which aims at conducting peace research but is also intended to function as a platform to promote non-violent conflict resolution in different areas of the world and to a wide range of people. She is furthermore a member of the Advisory Committee for Strategy and Security Policy of the Scientific Commission at the Austrian Armed Forces (BMLV) since 2018.


The event takes place in cooperation with the Internationale Institute for Peace (IIP).

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