July 7, 2016
Security Beyond Defense: Migration and Security
Migration and Security: Opportunities and Challenges
Regional Commissioner for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees,
Migration and Security in Europe: Strength through Unity, Security through
Anna Mee Allerslev,
Mayor of Employment and Integration of Copenhagen
Setting the Record Straight: Myths and Misconceptions about Syrian Refugees
Director of Government Relations and Senior Political
Adviser, Syrian American Council
Madeleine K. Albright,
Former U.S. Secretary of State
Anna Mee Allerslev,
Mayor of Employment and Integration of Copenhagen
Director of Government Relations and Senior Political
Adviser, Syrian American Council
Location: Notovel Warszawa Centrum, Warsaw, Poland
Time: 4:00 p.m. LOCAL
Date: Thursday, July 7, 2016
Superior Transcriptions LLC
MARY STYLIDI: Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure and a privilege to extend to you all a very warm welcome to this remarkable session focused on migration entitled “Security Beyond Defense.” Undoubtedly, the world has become more complex and dangerous in recent years. Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa have unleashed a host of security challenges in Europe – not least the largest refugee and migrant crisis since the Second World War. Adding to that, the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the consequences of which are not still clear, it is easy to be concerned about the future.
In this historically crucial point, security beyond defense comes up with the assertion of development cooperation. Development has its unique place in dealing with the roots of displacement. Following the significant increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe, addressing the root causes of displacement through development cooperation has become louder across the European Union, dedicating substantial funds to this purpose.
However, the increasing overuse of this terminology, and the lack of its meaning clarity, pose a number of risks. First, development funds must be primarily used to achieve sustainable improvement of the living conditions in recipient countries in order to (prevent and dissuade ?) migration to donor states. Second, unrealistic expectations may be raised about what development cooperation can achieve. And third, there is a threat to distract attention from the need to reform European asylum policy.
European development actors are still well-equipped to address the structural root causes of displacement – for example, through health and education programs, governments’ resource and anti-corruption programs. This also applies to the promotion of the role of the rule of law, economic development, fostering of social structures, and climate change adaptation.
However, acute causes of displacement, such as violent conflict or political persecution, require primarily, diplomatic measures, humanitarian aid and crisis management. In cases like this, expanding development cooperation per se will not be able to prevent future first migration. A comprehensive developmental approach is the remarkable example of the cooperation of NATO in the Aegean Sea, breaking the lines of illegal migration, and working much more closely on resilience. Even though meeting the basic needs of migrants and the refugees, and integrating them into society, can present the EU with great challenges, it must be not forgotten that several host countries face even greater challenges regarding the reception of migrants and refugees. This is especially true for Greece – a frontline host country that struggles not to affect the dignity and the status of migrants and refugees with its severe financial crisis.
Development-oriented measures can offer hope and support for migrants and refugees in first countries of asylum, including education, and integration to the labor market with the right work, freedom of movement, and the right to acquire land. It can also support the reintegration of former refugees who choose to return home. With regard to any of the measures outlined here, it is of course crucial that the local population is not discriminated against, but benefits from the measures as well. In conclusion, I wish you every success in your deliberations and your work, a productive and successful session, and a very pleasant stay among us.
And now, it is the pleasant and honorable time for me to briefly introduce the session’s moderator, Mr. Muddassar Ahmed, managing partner in Unitas Communications, as a special guest sponsor from United Kingdom. Mr. Muddassar Ahmed is the founding chief executive of Unitas Communication Ltd., where he has led a project with the United Nations, U.S. State Department, the U.K. Foreign Office, the Arab League, Barclays Wealth, Mosaic, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation(s), the U.K. National Health Service, and the British Council. Muddassar is also founding chairman of the Concordia Forum, a global think tank for the transatlantic relations, which runs an annual leaders retreat. In 2010, Muddassar founded the John Adams Society, where he’s currently chair. Additionally, he serves as an elected director on the European Network of American Alumni Associations, which gathers the participants of U.S. government exchange programs across Europe. Muddassar is a regular commentator on international and public affairs, particularly on issues concerning the interface between the Western and Islamic worlds. He has written and commented for the BBC, CNN, The New York Times, and on. Mr. Muddassar. (Applause.)
MUDASSA AHMED: Thank you very much, Mary. It is an honor and a pleasure to be here today and to introduce the next set of speakers. We’re going to be talking about security and migration today. And of course, I’m from Britain, and this issue has become increasingly exasperated with Brexit and all that. We’ve been through an interesting period, post-Brexit, in Britain, where migration and – was used to stir up certain emotions, and it’s become very evident that it’s very difficult to put that genie back in the bottle. So I’m very, very, very keen to hear from what the speakers have to say on this issue.
Our first speaker that I’m going to introduce is the mayor for employment for Copenhagen. She is going to be talking to us and sharing with us how Copenhagen has been dealing with these issues, and I’m very keen to hear what we can learn from her. Please welcome Mayor Anna Mee Allersev. (Applause.)
MAYOR ANNA MEE ALLERSEV: Thank you. When I was six years old, my father got me a brand-new bike. Growing up in a suburb – in a suburb outside Copenhagen in the ‘80s, that was not something I was used to. But my father actually won a competition. It was a slogan competition for the European Union. Can you please shift the picture? OK, I will do it anyway. The picture I was going to show you was the slogan, and the slogan goes like this: “By remembering your past, you shall create your future.” I actually still bring that slogan into my daily political life in Copenhagen, because these days, we see a tragic glimpse of a time we thought we thought were long gone – a time of fear, hate, and division. When my father heard about the walls going up in Hungary, Austria, and across the Balkans, he called me and he said, “Anna Me, what is happening? Don’t they remember the Second World War? Don’t they remember the Berlin Wall?” And actually, I don’t know if they remember, but I think they don’t feel it. But my dad feels it. He remembers what it did to people. He remembers how people tried to cross the Berlin Wall and the tremendous risks they were willing to take.
Another picture. Sorry about that. It was the third picture.
And I think it is very important that our generation not only remember that, but also feels it. It is extremely important that we bring that dark chapter with us, because at the borders of Europe, right before our very eyes, it is happening again. These past two years, 10,000 refugees and migrants have died trying to cross the sea to get to Europe. It is a terrible tragedy – a tragedy that we have to stop now. But we can only do it by working together. We need to work together. And this is happening right now in our own backyard.
But sadly, we see exactly the opposite happening right now. Even as we speak, walls are rising again. And I understand that, because walls are easy to build – a brick of fear, followed by a brick of hate, laid upon a brick of national self-sufficiency, built at the pretext of protection against migrants, terrorists and radicalism. But in reality, I think it represents the failure of Europe, and it is a symbol of the search of extremism.
We tend to link extremism with militant Islam, but we cannot ignore the rise and mobilization of the far right nationalism in these years. All over Europe, we have seen attempts of arson against refugee camps. Mothers and fathers are once again forced to explain to their children what racial slurs painted on the walls of their own homes means – just like Jewish parents were forced to 80 years ago. And we need to take that right-wing extremism just as serious, because just as we can’t have Mahamo (ph) wandering the streets alone, neither can we let Peter get his ideas of extreme nationalism out of control. We have to fight extremism and radicalism in any shape and in any form, here in Europe. That is why the city of Copenhagen have decided to create a whole new system to fight exactly those kind of extremism and radicalism. It is a very complex structure, but it is based on a very simple principle. We want to show the youngsters how they can get back into society. The sooner we can identify signs of radicalization, the more efficient we can help the youngsters. Together with the local police, the social workers, the teachers and – and that is very important – the local community, we identify youngsters who are at risk, and we reach out to them.
It is very important for us to remember in those initiatives that no children is born with hate. Hate is something that we learn. And as President Obama said in September while opening the Strong City (sic) Network across the world, he said that we can’t fight extremism with weapons alone; we need to fight extremism with better ideas and better ideologies. And that is what we’re trying to do in Copenhagen. We try to fight extremism, but we also try to fight the causes of extremism.
Look at this picture. It is a picture of two children outside a refugee camp near Copenhagen. Children, who not long ago fled from tanks, war, death and a world that I think that we even can’t imagine, they now learn how to ride a bike in Denmark. And the ones who are teaching them how to ride a bike are volunteers. And that is very important for us, because that is also a part of our history. While some find answers in hate and isolation, others find answers in compassion and unity. And luckily, the latter still represent the vast majority in Denmark as well as in Europe.
In Copenhagen, we’ve used this driver to integrate refugees and to include refugees in our society. Our entire model for integration is based on mobilizing volunteers and companies in that exactly process. And actually it is going very well. Right now as I speak, hundreds of volunteers have volunteered to help us. And I’m filled with hope. I’m filled with hope for the future of the refugees here in Copenhagen – or in Copenhagen – because the last six months, companies and volunteers have said to us, we want to help you. They have take them in to be families by their own, and they have volunteers in special refugee internship.
And that is really the essence of the Copenhagen model: to work together with the private sector and the civil society from the very first beginning.
All of us here today, we represent countries and cities from all over the world. We are invited here today because we are young and because we are in a position that enable us to do a – to make a difference. And that doesn’t mean that we can change the world by ourselves, but we can make a real difference in those countries and in these cities that we are living in.
So when we come home and when we feel alone and when we feel the demands for walls rising in our street, I think we have to respond. We have to respond by building even stronger bridges, bridges laid with bricks of hope, bricks of trust and bricks of unity. That is and have always been, in my opinion, the real and only sustainable answer for Europe and the rest of the Western world. And it is our responsibilities – responsibility to bring that back to the very core, to the very essence of the European Union.
Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. AHMED: Thank you. Thank you, Anna. That was very insightful and inspirational.
Our next speaker is Mohammed Ghanem. Mohammed is director of government relations and senior political adviser to the Syrian American Council. And he’s going to be talking to us a little bit about how and what this sort of influx of Syrian refugees means from a Syrian government perspective. Thanks.
MOHAMMED GHANEM: OK. Thank you so much, Muddassar. And thank you so much for an insightful presentation. Thank you so much for the important work that you’re doing.
So Europe is in the midst of a historic migration crisis, actually its worst since World War II. And while we can’t fault people fleeing for their lives, risking their lives, it’s important to recognize that issues of migration have already roiled European politics in important and ominous ways.
In France, Austria and Germany, concerns about migration have fueled historic successes for far-right parties. In Britain, where Muddassar is from, these concerns and these worries played a major role in the country’s bombshell referendum vote to Brexit the EU.
The military implications, while indirect, are clear. Politicians who favor reduced EU unity and cohesion and closer ties to Russia are surging, even though Russia is escalating its threats and actually expanding its military operations on NATO’s southern and eastern flanks.
So something should be done. But what is it? As a Syrian who’s lived almost his entire life – I’m from Damascus, so as a Syrian who’s lived almost his entire life in Syria, my people are at the center of this migration storm. Actually just a few days ago, I learned that my niece of 25 – she’s 25 years old, and her entire family – husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and her baby son – they were all seeking refuge in the Netherlands now. And just months before that, just a few months before that, my sister-in-law and her entire family, including four children, took one of those death boats to Germany. And now she’s living in – now they’re living in Germany. They sought refuge there.
If five years ago someone had told me or told my niece or told my sister-in-law that one day they would take these death boats to flee their country and seek refuge in Germany, they would have laughed at the absurdity of this prediction. They lived comfortable, middle class lives. I’m talking about people living in Damascus. These are regime-controlled areas. You can only imagine what the situation is for people living in Aleppo or Homs or those devastated cities and provinces.
These are – again, these are people who lived – comfortable, middle class families. They were happy in Syria. Yet after five years of war, they were forced to flee. This is the reality for my family and for millions of other Syrians now seeking a future in Europe.
And if we frame this as it is commonly framed as mainly a migrant crisis centered in Europe, I think we’re already pointed in the wrong direction. The Syrians who fled to Europe did not flee in search of better economic opportunities. They did not do so for economic reasons. In fact, according to a recent poll by the Syria Campaign, more than 90 percent of Syrian refugees who have fled to Europe want to return home. But they can’t due to the conflict and ongoing human rights abuses, the overwhelming majority of which are committed by the Syrian regime.
Take my family as an example. My sister-in-law left behind a fairly comfortable life by Syrian standards to start from scratch from zero in Europe because she was afraid of her own government. She was afraid that one night she would hear those loud knocks on the door and that government thugs – with Syria, called “shabiha” – would just barge in – they would barge in to rape her daughters or conscript her sons as cannon fodder. Her sons were 18 and 19.
Similarly, my niece left Syria because she had lost hope. And she lost hope after September 30th of 2015. Why is that date important? Because it was the date that Russia started a fierce campaign of air raids in support of the Assad regime. And that convinced my niece that there was no longer a future for her family in Syria.
These are people who are – these are the people who are fleeing to Europe’s shores. They are not economic migrants. They are war refugees, and this is not a migrant crisis. This is an atrocities-prevention crisis. Indeed, the same poll that I cited just – that I cited before also found that a majority of Syrian refugees in Europe favor a safe zone for civilians inside Syria. A similar majority said that they would not feel comfortable returning to Syria – which, remember, they want to do – until the government’s abuse is stopped or until the dictator Assad’s departure.
The U.S. has – sorry – the United – I shouldn’t talk about the U.S., because we in the U.S. have resettled about two – out of 5 million registered with the U.N. so far, we’ve resettled about 2,000 only so far. So the U.S. is actually bearing the brunt of this crisis. Europe – sorry – I meant Europe. Europe has roughly – has had to deal with roughly a million Syrian refugees.
But again, there are nearly 5 million Syrian refugees, and between 5 to 7 million Syrians internally displaced – they’re displaced inside their own country. So given the tremendous – so just think for a moment. So Europe has had to deal with a million refugees. And this has generated a tremendous backlash. Brexit, those who campaigned for the Brexit used Syrian refugees in their billboards. And migration and immigration was a key issue for them.
So given the tremendous backlash that one million refugees have already, you know, generated in Europe and in the United States, it is unlikely in the extreme that NATO countries would be able to provide for all of the displaced. In the long term, the only sustainable solution to the quote-unquote European migrant crisis, as is it is often so wrongly termed, is a policy that allows people to stay in their homes in the first place.
It is important to realize that the Syrian refugee crisis is not new, by the way. That’s another key point I would like to make today. The refugee crisis in Syria is the major contributor to this crisis, is not a new crisis. It is not even new to NATO. By the time the world first agreed – or, I’m sorry – by the time the world first grasped the magnitude of the refugee crisis was the tragic death of Aylan Kurdi, the boy who washed on Turkish shores after his death, boat capsized. Of course, that happened in Turkey. And Turkey is NATO’s southern pillar and second-largest troop contributor after the United States.
So by the time the world grasped the magnitude of that crisis and saw that image, that shocked the world and shocked the conscious of the world, Turkey was already hosting over 2 million Syrian refugees. For over three years Turkey had been calling on its NATO allies to act more assertively in Syria to stem the torrent of human misery. Syrians themselves had risked their lives. I still remember when that happened. They risked their lives on – to hold a huge protest calling for a NATO no-fly zone, only to be rebuffed by the former commander of NATO. He would actually come out every couple of weeks to rule out a safe zone or a no-fly zone in Syria.
So the NATO inaction back then is how we got where we are today. In early 2015, some 500 – The New York Times at that time reported that some 500,000 civilians fled the city of Aleppo in under one month. That’s a quarter of the population who lived in the city of Aleppo, one of the most ancient cities in the world, and Syria’s largest municipality. That happened during regime aerial bombardment on civilian population centers. Global policymakers at the time were distracted by diplomatic talks in Geneva. The Assad regime used and abused those talks and that opportunity to introduce a new type of weapon called barrel bombs that wiped out whole city blocks on impact.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at the time that these were the bloodiest weeks of the entire Syrian conflict. The regime’s barrel bombs have since rendered much of Aleppo unlivable. And actually as we speak now, regime forces just cut – we got news just a couple of hours ago – just cut the last supply route and actually the last road into the eastern parts of Aleppo where 300,000 people live. So now we’re also concerned about, you know, an impending siege for 300,000 people.
A new wave of refugees have fled Syria as a result of the Russian intervention that began September 30th, 2015. In early February 2016, again, while diplomatic talks – this time it was the third round – while diplomatic talks on Syria in Geneva were distracting the entire world again, Russia’s air forces launched a blistering air campaign in northern Syria that left Aleppo on the cusp of a starvation siege. That campaign also caused some 80,000 refugees to flee Aleppo in 48 hours. Eighty thousand people, 48 hours, barrel bombs, aerial bombardment.
For most of the Syrian conflict, there has been a gap between the daily misery faced by us, faced by Syrians, and what we could call the high politics of European and NATO countries. The Syrian refugee crisis has begun to bridge that gap, unfortunately. It gives me no pleasure to say that. The Brexit has begun to bridge that gap. It gives me no pleasure to say that. I say begun, because I’m certain that the aftershocks of the European migrant crisis, which are really the aftershocks of the Assad regime’s mass atrocities in Syria, have yet to reach their apex.
One thing is for certain, Turkey is no longer the only refugee frontline state in NATO. All Europe is now a frontline state, including Britain. NATO countries, and particularly NATO’s European members, should act accordingly and with appropriate and commensurate urgency. In closing, I would like to say that refugees are a symptom of an underlying crisis. Refugees are not the ones that you should fear, it is those who drive them out of their homes who endanger your security. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. AHMED: All right. OK. So now we’re going to have a question and answer session, and a kind of moderated discussion. I’ve got a ton of questions that I’d love to pose to the panel. I guess I’ll kick off.
There is, of course, this narrative across Europe now. Post-Brexit it seems like this narrative is taking hold amongst many ordinary folk, that the issue that the far right is raising, you’ve got these issues around anti-Muslim hatred, anti-immigration feeling. I’d be interested in hearing from you guys how you feel we can begin to turn that, I mean, because it’s all really become so dangerous and so electorally terrifying.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it’s a very difficult problem, because part of what is happening is that there is a fear factor being perpetrated. And when one looks at some of the things that have happened in Brussels and Paris and various places now in Turkey and others, is there is an attempt to find a cause for it, and easy enough to say it’s – trying to identify people who came as refugees.
The bottom line is it’s not true, because part – as we have learned – some of these people actually were born in the countries. And so blaming the refugees for it is not fair. But it puts together two things which are very dangerous. One is a dislike of anybody who is different. And the second is that we are afraid of terrorism. And so it’s an easy connection to be made. And what has to happen is the governments need to say this is not true. Intelligence communities need to cooperate.
But what we are finding, unfortunately, is there are elements within the political elites that find this useful. And so I think it is going to be very hard, and requires education and really requires a sense that is being perpetrated by the far-right, frankly, in terms of putting more fear into people’s lives. And so it’s going to take an education process.
MR. GHANEM: And I would just like to – you know, off of what Madam Secretary said, unfortunately for us in the United States it’s an election year. And so this is – the issue has been politicized. Some presidential candidates are – you know, have decided that it is politically sound for them to whip up fears to try and – to try and, you know, motivate people to vote for them. So you hear some presidential candidate, you hear, for example, Mr. Trump always saying that hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are, you know, flooding into the United States. That the Obama administration is working on bringing in hundreds of thousands, hundreds of – you always hear this it sounds like hundreds of thousands. And we’ve only resettled 2,000 refugees in the United States since the beginning of the crisis.
And then – and President Obama did make a pledge to resettle some more refugees. But we were talking only 10,000 refugees. And we don’t think that we will be able to deliver on that commitment now because of – because of what is happening. So I think it takes a collective – it takes a collective response to stand up to that type of fear politics, and to point out the things that Ms. Albright just laid out.
MR. AHMED: Anna Mee, from where you are, is there anybody actually doing this well? Do you think there are – when you look at the landscape across Europe and other mayors, do you look up to particular cities or individuals who you think are pushing back successfully on this narrative?
MS. ALLERSLEV: The Swedish prime minister did before he was pushed over the edge. Angela Merkel was a big – she was not from my party, not from my – I’m Social Liberal and she’s conservative, but she has done it very well. And all of the Danes are very – admire her. But I agree with Madam Secretary. I think it’s – I think it’s really disturbing. And what I find most disturbing is that it’s not – the Danish People’s Party is a right-wing party – the most right-wing party we have in Denmark. And I’m not disturbed that they are now the second-biggest party in our parliament, the biggest party from the right-wing parties. But I’m disturbed that all the big parties – the labors, the conservative, the conservative liberals – they go after them. So that is what I am disturbed about.
And I’m from the Social Liberal Party. On a good day, we have 9 percent. On a bad day, we have 4 to 5 percent. Now there are more bad than good days. And the reason there are this is because we insist on having a good dialogue, on having – on giving the public the real information, and treating the foreigners and the refugees how we would like to be treated. And sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes I feel like maybe I get it all wrong. Then it’s so nice to be here and I’m very inspired of what we heard before, that we need to come together and we need to create a new international community. We need to learn from each other because you need that when you are in your own country right now.
MR. AHMED: You spoke earlier on about tackling extremism and extreme ideas, and in Copenhagen. This particularly interesting since, of course, we had a politically motivated murder just before Brexit. And it’s now estimated that far-right sort of violence in Britain – there are more thwarted plots than there are from Islamic or any other type of extremism. And of course, you know, we’ve had Anders Breivik and we’ve got this undercurrent in the U.S. now. What more do you guys think can be done to sort of challenge some of this worrying trend of far-right extremism and far-right – Madam Secretary?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think what has to happen is more rational political dialogue. And as I look out at this group, I do think that that’s the purpose of young leaders, is to get involved and tell the truth, and to push back on things that are just patently lies. It’s not easy. And it’s going to take a lot of dedication. And having facts, actually, and not being victims of hysteria. And but I think the hard part is when people say, well, somebody else can do that. And nobody else can do it. It’s going to require very substantial and I think dedicated involvement. It’s not one of these one-shot deals. It’s going to have to be – the problem that is there is that not everybody behaves well all the time. And the bottom line is Germany, where so many refugees were taken, people keep pointing to the Cologne incidents or various aspects, and blame all refugees for that.
And so I think we need to see the personal stories of refugees. And I have to say what both our friends here talked about is very important, is to get the personal stories – you as a little girl, and your story about your families. And I think that this has to be personalized to make people think, this could happen to me.
I was refugee twice, first in England during World War II and then coming to the United States. And so I can identify, but I think a lot of people can. There is some family story. It is important to put a face – a real human being – and which is when you talked about the little boy, that got people kind of interested in it. And so it has to be – without being hysterical or demagogic, is to tell the stories.
MR. AHMED: Mohammed?
MR. GHANEM: Well, so I would like to endorse everything Ms. Albright said. But I'm also your root-cause sort of guy. I believe in dealing with the issue at the source.
So ISIS was trying to take advantage of the refugee crisis, but ISIS is striking everywhere. Just a couple of days ago ISIS actually carried out – I mean, we don’t know yet that it’s ISIS, but it’s highly likely that it’s ISIS, or at least al-Qaida. They carried out a bombing just outside the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, which is the second-holiest site in Islam, the second-holiest site for 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. And Muslims were killed in that attack. And again, this is Medina. This is the second-holiest site in Islam.
And that was the third attack for the day in Saudi Arabia. Two other attacks took place, one in Qatif and there was an attack near the U.S. Consulate in Jidda. So they’re striking – they’re striking everywhere. And actually, Muslims are – if you look at the numbers of people killed by ISIS, Muslims are, you know, the number-one – Muslims are the number-one victims.
But I do believe that – so I would like to acknowledge that, yes, there is an extremism problem, OK, but I do believe that you can only deal effectively with this issue when you tackle this issue at the source. If there was no vacuum, no failed state in Syria, the ISIS – I mean, I wouldn’t say ISIS wouldn’t exist, but it definitely would not be the ISIS on steroids that we know of today. If there was no refugee crisis, ISIS wouldn’t be able to take – try to seek to take advantage of that, because I can tell you for sure that these refugees are actually fleeing not just Assad but also they’re fleeing ISIS. And ISIS doesn’t care about them.
Why would you – you know, if Germany has so far graciously and very generously welcomed more than 1 million refugees, why would you try – and you claim that you are a Muslim organization, why would you try to mess things up for all those refugees and turn people against them in Germany? That actually shows that you don’t care about them.
So arming people with facts, sharing the personal stories, but at the same time dealing with the vacuum that we have in Syria, dealing with the failed state, ensuring that people have better security conditions I think is the most effective way to approach the situation.
MR. AHMED: So the “ring” can only be destroyed where it was forged. That’s what you’re saying, essentially. That’s interesting.
I’d like to bring you in, Mayor, and ask you one question. On a city level, what practical things are – innovative things are different cities doing that you think can help better integrate some of these refugees?
MS. ALLERSLEV: Fortunately it’s different on the city level. What I experience right now in Denmark, and I think also in other Nordic countries, is that the new political correctness is to hate immigrants, and especially Muslim immigrants. It’s not to tell the truth. It’s not to say things as they are, because it’s not how it is but to hate a special kind – a special group of our population.
But on a city level, we need to handle those problems that we have. So we actually work together – I even work together – not even, but I work together – I insist on working together with the Danish People’s Party. So while I have been the mayor of Integration and Employment Services, all my integration policy is built on a big majority, including the Danish People’s Party, because they know that we need to handle those problems that we have on a city level.
So what we can agree on is not to do as we probably did in the ’70s and maybe in the ’80s and half of the ’90s, to ignore the problems or to not putting out demand on our new citizens, but to treat them as we treat everyone else. And that means, in Denmark – because we are a strong welfare system – when you get welfare or social benefits, you need to do – you have certain duties, and you need to do them from day one. You need to go to school. You need to work for your social benefits. And that is actually working, and that is what we can agree on.
But I also have another reflection if that’s OK.
MR. AHMED: Please.
MS. ALLERSLEV: And I think that of course the political elite have a responsibility, exactly like Madam Secretary said, and we need to reach out and we need to understand the public better, but not going the other direction, as we do now.
But I also think that the Danish Muslim community and the Muslim community all over Europe has a responsibility, not because they are part of the problem – and I really understand that they hate when we ask them to be a part of the debate, because why should they specifically be a part of the debate, but I feel like every citizen has a duty to be a part of the democratic debate. And I also feel like of course the big majority of Muslim Danes are not a part of the problem, but they are a part of the solutions.
So what I am trying to say – and I can do it because I am from the Social Liberal Party and they know me, and I’m talking to them all the time. I say, I understand your frustration. You are not a part of the problem, but you are a part of the solution, and you have a duty, like I have and like all other Danes have, to be a part of the political debate, to stand up, and to take responsibility. So we all have a responsibility.
MR. AHMED: Great.
I think we’ll take one round of questions from the audience. So we’ll start from here.
Q: Thank you very much. My name is Tina Rohner. I am a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council and I work for the Asian Development Bank, based in the Philippines.
I’ve lived in Asia for 10 years but I’m European. And I’ve been back in Europe for two-and-a-half weeks, and I was actually in the U.K. during the Brexit vote. And I feel what is most shocking to me is that I feel the media has – at least from the outside view, the media has actually done not such a bad job in reporting the truth about refugees.
And it seems to me like there are a lot of people who seem to have lost trust in the media and somehow feel that that is lies, and still hold certain beliefs like about the Cologne incidents, which it has been reported, I think, two Syrian refugees were arrested out of 60 total arrests. But somehow people have very different beliefs about these things. And it is very shocking to me that these beliefs seem to be spreading, and that these right-wing parties seem to get more and more prominent.
And so my question to you is, if even all these things are widely reported but still people seem to be galvanizing around very unfortunate ideas, how can we counter that? And what do you think is the risk of there being a sort of a Brexit contagion that can empower more of such movements in other European countries? Thank you.
MR. AHMED: We’ll just take a couple of quick questions as well, and then try to wrap up within, like, two minutes if we can. So one here and one there.
Q: Hi. My name is Mamirilla (ph).
I am Mexican, so when I hear the word “migration” it means something slightly different. I would like to know your assessment on the linkages among transnational criminal organizations, trafficking in persons, migration and the refugee crisis. Thank you.
MR. AHMED: The lady in the white shirt over there.
Q: Thank you. Again, my name is Salwa Amin. I still cannot stand up since I have the computer.
Again, my question is to Ms. Secretary Albright. So one is a follow up to the question I had before. When you referred to having a two-way approach towards Russia, I just wanted to know whether deterrence or the building up of deterrence is included in these two ways, because right now in Germany there are discussions about increasing the nuclear threat towards Russia. Actually there are two institutions of – conservative institutions, and one is from – it’s a military political institution. They are both actually proposing this.
And the other question is regarding Syria, of course. And so there are negotiations now going on behind the scenes between USA and Russia, I suppose, regarding Syria. How is your assessment of that? What is your point of view towards that? And what do you think are the interests of both sides, not just the other side but both sides? Thank you very much.
MR. AHMED: Madam Secretary?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, theoretically those questions all go together.
Let me just say this: On the issue of trafficking, I think one of the aspects that is out there is there are a lot of people making money off of this, the smuggling and a number of people that get on these death boats that are paying to get on the death boats, and that the international community in some way has to address that these are crimes against humanity and have to deal with it as with pirates or whatever, and that has not been taken into consideration enough. I think that that is a very important part.
I think politically, to go to your point, is what has happened is that the crazier you are, the better you do politically these days. I think that is the part that I find most troubling, and that the Brexit vote came out of ignorance, and that the media had a large role to play in that, the tabloid media.
And so the hard part is how to argue for freedom of the press, which one has to do when one is in Poland or anywhere, but also at the same time understand that the press has some responsibilities. But I do think that we are in a period that is very difficult in terms of hysteria and demagogues who take advantage of this, and normal people have to keep pushing back on it.
And by the way, let me just say, part of the thing as we talk about refugees, we are acting as if it’s a short-term emergency that will end quickly. It is not. It is a much longer-term problem. And therefore, the institutional structures have to adapt to that, have the best possible ways of dealing with it to say that it will take a long time.
On NATO, I do think we’ll spend a lot of time on it. Deterrence is very much a part of it, and important, but deterrence and also dialogue and resilience. And so I do think an important part is what kind of dialogue exists now among the NATO members but also NATO and whatever Russia is up to, which leads to the Syria point.
The United States has felt that it is important to talk to the Russians about Syria and try to figure out whether there are places that we can find some agreement, which we did on the chemical weapons. What I am troubled by, to put this together, is the Russians have used the refugee crisis to accomplish something that I think is in Putin’s desires, and that is to destroy the European Union. And he was a very happy man over the Brexit vote. And the Brexit vote, to a great extent, came out of the refugee crisis.
So in many ways all this goes together. And when we were talking this morning about the complexity of the world, I dumped everything on the young leaders because I think that, in fact, we are dealing in an unbelievably complex thing. And when you’re talking about sources, the sources of this go way back in terms of the way that things were handled in Iraq and in Syria, and the question is how we undo those unintended consequences. But it is as complicated across the board, and in many ways all these issues are linked.
MR. AHMED: I’m afraid we’ve completely run out of time.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Oh, I’m sorry.
MR. AHMED: No, that’s OK. (Laughter.)
Thank you so much to all our panelists. And thank you, everyone. Thank you. (Applause.)