Hurricane and terminology

Given that a Hurricane season in Florida is still not over, we have to be vigilant here, follow whether forecast and prepare in case there is a next hurricane alert. This is something what I haven’t practiced yet, my skills therefore develop in this regard and I have a chance to observe people’s behavior. Understandably, everyone takes the alerts seriously and emergency kit items, such as drinking water, battery-powered radio, flashlights, canned food (and a manual can opener)  disappear from store shelves extremely rapidly. It is obvious that you cannot fight against a hurricane, the only thing you can do is to prepare.

I hope nobody will find a parallel between the hurricane phenomenon and the current refugee crises as inappropriate. Rather than building fences and closing EU entry doors and pretending that the problem doesn’t exist anymore there is a need to prepare for it better. If something needs to be build, it is an effective mechanism that will show humanity and enable to treat those, who search for protection under our shelter, with dignity. Yes, we have our own rules and not everybody who is coming to our territory actually needs protection. The situation is nevertheless extraordinary, and such a situation requires that book procedures and a routine ticking boxes exercise is accompanied by quite some degree of improvisation. What would have happened if the EU started building fences to protect itself of unstable East European countries back in 1989? Instead, we witnessed huge solidarity coming from the West. One of the first reactions of the Commission President Jacques Delors was “Don’t be afraid’. Although atmosphere and background of the last EU summit is far from ideal it should be appreciated that discussion is extending from our territory to other places in order to help not only those who are sitting next door, sleeping along the roads leading to our borders and are tired but also to those who are still far from our borders.

I am not an expert in the field but there are situations when we need to speak no matter whether we are experts in the field concerned or not, simply because we have own opinions. Such situation came earlier this week.

I felt privileged to be a guest speaker at the Multinational Management class of prof. Ganitsky at the Center for International Business Education and Research of the University of Miami. I had an opportunity to spend 75 minutes with 20 students and talk about the ongoing EU issues. Primarily I wanted to focus on TTIP but majority of the time was dedicated to the refugees crises. As well as sharing my views and details of the EU asylum and immigration rules I learned a lot from students, some of whom come from countries heavily influenced by the crises, such as Italy and Lebanon. An interesting point present during our debate was a question ‘how to make the current crisis a future opportunity’? The idea is surely not new but right now not (yet) very popular. Watching the debate of republican presidential candidates organised by the Regan Library the night before the class with students, I noticed that many speakers refereed to the immigration as to an ‘issue’ and only one considered it as an ‘opportunity’. Not only those who deal with terminology brain-teasers know that difference between these two notions don’t belong to terminology ‘cosmetics’ category.

Fear from unknown or, in concrete ‘security concerns’, is not unjustified. What is nevertheless needed is to change our approach and see the current challenges as an opportunity. Articles like the one recently published in Spiegel explain why.

One of the last question in the debate with students was: “will the EU find consensus in responding to the crises?’. I am sure that EU will find a solution. It is clear that not everyone who is coming needs an international protection. At the same time I hope that the solution will send a clear message that the face of the EU is definitely not the locked door and barbed wire fence. Our experience with the iron curtain is not that old and should help us to understand that this is not the way forward.