Regional Stability on South East Europe

The study group “Regional Stability on South East Europe” has been assessing the post-conflict development of the Western Balkan countries since 1999. Embedded in the wider academic framework of both the PfP Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes as well as the security-political research in the Austrian Ministry of Defense and Sports, its main focus is to elaborate major conflict areas and propose possible solutions to local authorities and international actors alike. This year, it was the 32nd workshop of the Study Group entitled “South East Europe’s Consolidation in Light of the EU Crisis, Refugee Influx and Religious Extremism” and it was held at the Château Rothschild, Reichenau/Austria from 19 to 21 May 2016.

The speakers of the panel discussion for the Refugee Crises and the details of the Balkan route were Aya Fukuda (Group 484), Sasha Gosich, border police inspector of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Serbia, and Jasmin Redzepi, president of the NGO Legis, Macedonia.

Aya Fukuda explained the role of the NGO sector in Serbia during the relief of the transit of the refugees in 2015 and 2016. She appealed for bigger concern of the vulnerable refugee categories such as women, sick refugees and unaccompanied minors, and she emphasized the need of a better profiling of the refugees so that more appropriate concern is adapted.   

Sasha, had a presentation for how the border police in Serbia is dealing with the refugee crises and how the refugee centers are functioning. He especially pointed at the need of better control of the borders with the purpose to stop illegal migration as well as the increasing number of smugglers that would enable the Balkan Route to be used as a main source for smuggling people, narcotics and weapons.

Jasmin Redzepi firstly talked about the beginnings of the refugee crises in October 2014, and its chronology in Macedonia until May 2016, the challenges NGO Legis faced as the only organization on the field until May 2015 and afterwards. He mentioned the changes of the law for asylum that Legis initiated, after which refugees were enabled free entrance, registration and mobility in Macedonia during 72 hours. In addition, he referred to the successful cooperation with the Ombudsman for the liberation of the imprisoned refugees-witnesses in legal procedures against the smugglers and about the humanity of the Macedonian citizens and the foreign donators and volunteers, amongst which Caritas Austria and ASB Germany considerably helped Legis through their donations for the refugees. At the end, he explained the current situation of the refugees in Macedonia and their unlawful immobility, and he called for the need of engaging European states to reunify them with their families in the EU countries.

Other topics were covered by other experts, professors and diplomats, as well as members of the Austrian Army. All the conclusions and recommendations of this traditional conference will be consequently and officially published at its newsletter, that we will be more than happy to publish as well.