Papandreou called for “unity” within EU in his speech at Boğaziçi University
One of the leading politicians and former Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou who was invited by Boğaziçi European School of Politics gave a lecture titled “ Imagining a Better Europe” at Boğaziçi University, Albert Long Hall during which he addressed a wide range of issues from Cyprus conflict to the current refugee crisis.
In her opening remarks, Boğaziçi University Rector, Prof. Dr. Gülay Barbarosoğlu stated that; “Boğaziçi University is an institution with a unique history that values human rights and freedom and believes in the rule of law and democracy and strives to implement these values in real life experiences. Our guest today is one of Europe’s leading social democrats and statesmen. George Papandreou is a great role model and an example for our students. He has put a lot of effort in resolving the Cyprus conflict. Having a global vision, Papandreou is known to build bridges during conflicts.”
Sharing his views and predictions on the future of Europe and possible resolutions to the existing problems, George Papandreou focused on national, European and pluralistic identities. He stated that over the years, he continuously worked on building good relations to create a solid ground for trust and cooperation between Turkey and Greece and further stated that “Today 1 million turkish tourists are visiting The Greek islands every year. Today there is optimism and goodwill and me and my friends will help with the efforts to improve the realtionship between the two countries. After the 1999 Helsinki Summit, We got together and imagined a better Europe. Today, Europe is in crisis. Democracy was a guarantee for prosperity in Europe but it isn’t so today.”
Papandreou pointed out that compared to the period when he was Prime Minister; Europe’s underlying values has changed to a great extent. Freedom and human rights as well as the elimination of a divided Europe were at most priority. It was a place of freedom, a social alliance. The goal was not only to grow and expand but to ensure peace and security as well. Protection of minorities, rule of law and market value were crucial elements. It was an attraction point for the Balkans. These values were represented by the European Union and were guaranteed. We strive to uphold these values, but we see that the fundamental principles of Europe are under threat.
New refugee crisis on its way
Papandreou stated that “the refugee crisis is not new however, it has never been to this extend and formation of a new wave of refugees is quite possible. There will be more crises related with Syrian refugees as well as refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq worldwide. Once the situation becomes stabilized, the border flows will be controlled more efficiently and human trafficking from different countries will be prevented but, there will still be a lot to be done after that. The refugee crisis is not a new issue; However, The situation encountered today is quite drastic due to the number of refugees involved.
How can we develop the idea of universal and global citizens?
“We do not have an integrated environment in Europe. We are going through a period in which our presence as a European Union is being questioned. Governance and democracy brings about problems as well as opportunities. We observe that the importance of politics and democratic institutions are decreasing. Wealth is concentrated at one place and that has a negative impact on democracy. We are faced with Issues beyond borders such as climate change, mafia, drugs and refugees” George Papandreou said and continued;
“Globalization has brought us together however; it brought about a substantial amount of hardships and inequality as well. Let us ensure human rights for all. Europe is a hybrid, a prototype. Nationalization and globalization cannot go beyond being an illusion in time. Countries with better governance will succeed. Global challenges need global cooperation and therefore the issues cannot be resolved on the national level. Cooperation is a must to solve the problems like refugee crisis, accumulation of capital at one source.”
“In today’s world, we are all refugees. Therefore, we have to deal with these problems together. Our common global values should bring us together. Europe must re-think and explore itself and humanize the globalization process. A green, sustainable Europe will not only benefit Europe but its surrounding environment as well. We need to be more creative about the refugee crisis. We must plant the understanding of European citizenship in the most effective way. We need to act in the same manner towards the people coming to our shores. If refugees are trained well, they can stir up Europe. We will go beyond borders if people can participate under the same circumstances. The youth is already doing it via social media. There is a general pessimism in Europe. We will be successful if we work together but fail otherwise.”
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