EastMed Policy Dialogue Event No1- Recommendations Report

Prospects and Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean: Energy security and the Refugee Crisis

May 18 2017

In the framework of the Eastmed Erasmus+ Project, the University of Cyprus organised a special policy meeting at its premises of Ca’ Foscari University on Thursday, 18th of May. The subject of the discussion was the “Prospects and Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean: Energy security and the Refugee Crisis” while Dr Pavlos Koktsidis was responsible for the coordination of the discussion. The participants of the round-table discussion were: Professor Joseph Joseph, Professor Constantine Constantinou, Dr Pavlos Koktsidis from the University of Cyprus and Ms Louise Hatjivasiliou from IOM ( office of Cyprus).

Based on the discussion, the participants resulted to the following recommendations:

• It is quite essential to define conceptually the geographical boundaries of the EastMed region as a distinct territorial block in a flexible but robust and uniform way.

• The educational content and teaching approach of the prospective online course should be able to promote a better understanding of the delicate ethno-cultural and religious synthesis of the region, taking into account the inter-linked nature of interests and the importance of cross-border affiliations. The importance of ‘regional interdependence’ should be further emphasised so as to reveal the conditions and benefits of security and cooperation in the region.

• The role of the EU in the region must be further explained and clarified especially as to how the EU helps to respond to the current challenges or exacerbate crises. Innovative methods and approaches should be developed in order to enhance the EU’s visibility and impact in the region.

• Responding to the students’ request to know more about the humanitarian-legal, political and security issues relating to the management of the immigrant/refugee crisis by the European Union. Among other aspects, we recommend that the educational content of the online course should encourage further understanding of the perplexities in concepts regarding security, and lay a firm basis for explaining and criticizing the existing EU legal framework.

• The course needs to emphasize the EU’s ‘special interest’ in the area as well as the interests of the major and minor regional players, given the existence of major violent hotspots and protracted conflicts. Discussing comprehensive security approaches and thinking of effective crisis management responses should be integral part of the courses curriculum. Focusing on the causes and effects of regional instability such as state collapse, protracted conflict and war is crucial for understanding and explaining current predicaments.

• Understanding the difficulties and exploring the diverse aspects in the effective management of the refugee and immigrant flows is a priority for the region and the EU at large. Due to its crossroad position, the region lies at the heart of the problem and discussions over joined regional ventures should be encouraged.

• Our team expert outlined the geopolitics of maritime delimitation in the Eastern Mediterranean and showed how the regional players use and abuse international legal provisions to instrumentally support their policies. He suggested that a deeper understanding of international law is required so as to be able to make better judgments about the validity of claims and counterclaims in the region. This is especially important given how the maritime dimension has been a continuous source of tension in the region, and following the offshore discovery of hydrocarbons, negotiated delimitation, rights of use and pipeline routes further creates new strategic partnerships as well as new conflicts.

• According to our guest speaker from the International Organization for Migration, the EU will be, sooner or later, faced with broader challenges regarding ‘community resilience’ and ‘sustainability’ in the region’s surrounding areas. As suggested by the IOM representative, the relation between environmental degradation and migration should be taken more into consideration, as the consequences can drastically affect the region. These concepts should be studied and developed through the lens of regional cooperation within the EU framework.

• Important suggestions were raised by colleagues in the audience , including a) the idea was of an EastMed Summer School where students from universities ‘in and around the region’ could be given the chance to meet each other, enrich and update their knowledge, and develop a more holistic sense of the region, the EU and its surroundings.

• A useful suggestion was raised with regards to the region’s ‘cultural dimension’ with the view of better understanding the region’s cultural outlook, including some of its mutually shared traits and inter-connections.

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