Stephanie Woronko and Julie Linden sat down with Dr. Torsten Moritz, General Secretary of CCME, to elaborate on key topics introduced at his roundtable discussion with WSF on October 11th, 2018. We thank them for conducting and drafting the interview, as well as Dr. Torsten Moritz for dedicating time to this interview.
Thank you, Dr. Moritz, for taking the time to speak with us. To those of us examining the news for clues on the state of migration to Europe – what would you say are the biggest misconceptions out there?
TM: Migrants – of any kind – are not a new, unprecedented phenomenon, but only recently has it gained worldwide attention. Migration has always been happening, from what we call Biblical history to now.
Your stance is that Europe’s receiving system has not collapsed, despite many arguments to the contrary – especially since 2015. Whydo you maintain this stance?
TM: Where state organizations have failed, ordinary people have stepped in. Hosting communities have coped, and migrants have found places to live. Yes, there were and still are situations where people have failed, but there are few of these cases compared to the big picture. There has been overall success in areas that many would not have assumed to be successful.
Your roundtable remarks centered on the Common European Asylum System, and how the migration crisis has shown the need for reform. What role do EU politics play in carving a route forward?
TM: Some countries refuse to acknowledge that migration is a reality, and need a bit of phasing in. Countries at the periphery are currently unwilling to show responsibility for accepting and receiving asylum seekers, and many feel this is going against their state sovereignty. Other countries see the necessity of migrants to fill gaps in the labor force. Some EU member states have combined these two approaches by giving in to unrealistic demands, such as limiting migration to people with certain qualifications.
Some would say that certain EU member states could benefit from increased migration. What are your thoughts?
TM: Countries with a history influenced by migration have profited. Overall, inter-European mobility has been successful, and the movement of people has contributed to wealth and diversity.
The media has been blamed for protruding a negative view of migration to Europe. To what extent is the media to blame for negative reactions to migrants?
TM: Studies have shown the impact of the media is not as devastating as previously thought, and not all media organizations have a business model of spreading fear and hate.
What can be done to minimize harm caused by outlets that do project this image?
TM: In the era of free newspapers and the ability of every person with a smartphone to be a journalist, quality media is difficult to maintain. It is important to invest in journalism so it can function properly. Another aspect to consider is to get in touch with refugees and refugee journalists, since no one will know better about these situations than people who are actually in them.
In the current migration climate, what gives you hope? What motivates you?
TM: Firstly, the continuum of migration being accessed as normal, necessary, and positive is beginning to come through. Secondly, I’d mention the generosity and openness of the average person – ranging from the Europeans that aid refugees to the resilience and optimism of the refugees themselves.
About Dr. Torsten Moritz: Moritz holds a Ph.D. in political sciences of the Free University of Berlin and has extensive experiences in Eastern and Central European transformation after 1989. In the late 90’s, he was involved in the leadership of numerous pan-European Youth Networks. Since 2002, he has occupied the position of General Secretary on EU policy and project at the CCME. In addition, he is also active in designing and implementing several initiatives and projects on (co)development, migration refugee resettlement and integration of third-country nationals.
About the interviewers:
Julie: Julie Linnéa Linden is a writer and journalist currently pursuing an MA degree in International Relations at the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies.
Stephanie Stephanie Woronko is a writer and journalist pursuing an MA in International Relations with a specialisation in International Migration at the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies.