Global Alternatives 2024
The Origins of the Migration Crisis and the Policies of Western Countries
Valdai Discussion Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy Boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On February 21, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion on international migration in the Mediterranean. Moderator Oleg Barabanov invited participants to consider the topic of international migration, which has remained relevant for many years, taking into account the socio-economic problems in Africa and the Middle East. He also named the observance of human rights and the adaptation of migrants in European countries as important aspects of the topic.

“Global turbulence is a fertile ground for intensifying the continued migration crisis,” said Nathalia Zaiser, Chair of the Board of the Africa Business Initiative Union.  Speaking about the reasons Europe is attractive for Africans, she pointed to the turbulence in Africa, which, on the one hand, creates instability and uncertainty, including even in matters of food security, and to the comparative accessibility of European countries, on the other hand, from a geographical point of view, and the advantages of their social policy, as well as climatic and linguistic factors. Zaiser believes that an important problem is that many young people are leaving Africa because they did not have the opportunity to get an education, have been influenced by extremist organisations and do not share European values. “What these people become on their own territory is an important question,” she noted.

Roberta Alonzi, a lecturer at RUDN University, spoke about Italian migration policy in the context of the migration policy of the European Union. According to her, the government of Giorgia Meloni is actually trying to curb migration - from the creation of reception centres for migrants in Albania to measures that promote the development of African countries. In essence, Italy's migration policy looks like migration diplomacy, aimed at balancing between its own approach and the general rules of the EU. The European Union establishes general principles, but specific problems have to be resolved at the level of individual states. In particular, in matters of migrant integration, the European Commission defines key policy directions, but the European countries do not share a common model.

“The countries of Northern and Central Europe declare their commitment to human rights, but do not at all sympathise with the countries of Southern Europe, which bear the main burden of migration,” said Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, a former adviser to Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. The continuing deterioration of the migration situation, in his opinion, only reflects much deeper problems that our world faces. The West destroyed many countries in the Middle East and has actively participated in the destabilisation of Africa, but does not want to come to terms with the results of its policies and is not ready to see migrants from these regions. In order to stop the flow of migrants, it is necessary to stop the roots of the problem by stopping military interventions and organising assistance to the states of the Global South, Konstantakopoulos is convinced. Without a radical change in policy approaches, the situation will continue to deteriorate and become increasingly unsustainable.

Hasan Unal, a professor at Baskent University in Ankara, pointed out that Turkey is both a transit country and a final destination for migrants. It hosts between 13 and 17 million migrants, including from Syria, which have become a huge burden for the country. Unal called this a consequence of the American policy of regime change and the export of democracy. In addition, he believes it is necessary to take into account demographic changes. In the 20th and early 21st centuries, the rate of population growth in the Muslim world has increased greatly. In many cases, growing populations cannot find a place within the political boundaries of existing states, leading to serious difficulties. Appeals to values, human rights and international conventions do not solve this problem. Only the economic development of the concerned countries can help so that people do not have to leave them.