Magdeburg – ESI at Intercultural Week: How to preserve democratic values in migration policy

24 February 2024
Roncalli Haus, Magdeburg
Roncalli Haus, Magdeburg. Photo: Roncalli Haus

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited by the organizers of the Germany-wide ‘Intercultural Week’ to participate in the panel event ‚Neue Räume verteidigen: Für ein demokratisches Europa‘ – ‘Defending New Spaces: For a Democratic Europe’. The event took place as part of the official preparations for the 2024 Intercultural Week, held at the Roncalli Haus in Magdeburg.

In the panel, Gerald emphasized the failures of the current migration management system – with refugees being illegally pushed back at sea and subject to violence at the hands of unaccountable authorities. These actions undermine the rule of law in Europe and inflict needless suffering on those Europe has legally committed itself to protecting. The failure of the current system to distinguish between economic migrants of opportunity and those in sincere need of protection is also fuelling the rise of xenophobic, anti-democratic parties on the populist far-right.

Gerald discussed reasonable, workable alternatives which would allow Europe to provide protection to those with legitimate need, uphold the rule-of-law, and boost legal migration. This would include cooperation with partner countries coupled with programs to bring migrants to Germany legally and safely, with training to ensure that migrants’ skills match the demands of the German labour market. Such a system would undermine the far-right, strengthen the rule of law, provide protection to those in need and prevent deaths along dangerous migration routes. It would also ensure that migrants are well-prepared to contribute to society and live a prosperous, dignified life once in Germany.

Fellow participants in the panel included activists such as Sultana Sediqi of Youth Without Borders Erfut, members of civil society organizations such as Günter Burkhardt from Pro-Asyl and charity organizations such as Ursula Schoen from Diakonisches Werk.

While in Magdeburg, Gerald also met with Tamara Zieschang, the interior minister of the Sachsen-Anhalt state of Germany, to discuss ESI’s proposals for migration policy and the situation in Sachsen-Anhalt.

Roncalli Haus, Magdeburg
Meeting with Minister Zieschang. Photo: ESI