Print
Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article

On September 21–22, 2017, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), held the III International Conference “Managing Migrant Integration: The European and Russian Contexts.”

The conference was attended by over 100 leading Russian and foreign experts in migration, human capital and security, as well as members of the Russian executive authorities, international organizations, migrant communities, professional administrators and RIAC members.

On September 21–22, 2017, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), held the III International Conference “Managing Migrant Integration: The European and Russian Contexts.”

The conference was attended by over 100 leading Russian and foreign experts in migration, human capital and security, as well as members of the Russian executive authorities, international organizations, migrant communities, professional administrators and RIAC members.

Plenary session speakers included Vladimir Malakhov, Director of the Center for Theoretical and Applied Political Science at RANEPA; Sven-Olov Carlsson, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Russia; Olga Kirillova, Head of the General Administration for Migration Issues at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation; Oleg Malginov, Director of the Department for Relations with Compatriots Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; and Magne Barth, Head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Russia, Belarus and Moldova.

RIAC Director General Andrey Kortunov chaired the plenary session. In his opening remarks, he noted, “The subject of migration unites us all. It allows us to talk about cooperation, even when cooperation is impeded in other areas.”

Olga Kirillova noted that Russia needed to study experience of other states in order to successfully determine the course of its own migration policy. There are several reasons for this: on the one hand, Russia has limited experience of working with migrants, which forces it to turn to the positive example of other countries; on the other hand, over a short period, Russia has already encountered a multiplicity of problems that require a speedy resolution. The process is further complicated by the high concentration of migrants in certain regions. Even though Russia has a large and rich territory, migrants mostly come to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and partially to the Russian south, which causes discontent on the part of the local residents of those regions. “Russia’s problem is that migrants go to regions which offer employment opportunities, while the population density in those areas is high enough as it is,” Olga Kirillova said.

Ms. Kirillova has also noted that anti-migrant sentiments are not typical for Russia. In 2017 alone, Russia successfully received approximately 80,000 migrants. At the same time, the Head of the General Administration for Migration Issues at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation made it clear that, while Russians treated individual migrants well, they viewed a large influx of migrants negatively.

Oleg Malginov considered a different aspect of migration and noted the important role of diasporas, whose numbers have been growing sharply in recent times. Mr. Malginov believes that work with diasporas solves crucial economic, financial, investment and social tasks. What is more, large diasporas in foreign countries decrease demographic pressure, preserve cultural and civilizational space, and promote relations between individual countries. It is essential for Russia to preserve the Russian identity in order to contribute to the process of shaping a successful compatriot who is rooted in the host country’s society and interested in establishing good relations between countries.

Both Magne Barth and Sven-Olov Carlsson noted that civil society should participate in the integration of migrants in order to avoid hostile treatment of them. Mr. Carlsson also stressed that the integration process should start as early as possible through teaching the language of the host country and granting access to the labour market.

All the speakers noted that a comprehensive approach is crucial for studying migration issues; otherwise, consideration of individual aspects (economic, political and demographic) of the issue may result in a rather contradictory solution being proposed. It should also be noted that Russia’s principal task is to solve problems in the donor countries. Then the influx of migrants, including forced migrants, will decrease significantly. The conference participants also stressed the need for Russia to take the opinions of the expert community into account in order to improve the country’s migration policy.

During the first day of the conference, the participants discussed the experience of national and multi-faceted strategies for integrating migrants into host societies, including various aspects of the labour market, education, interaction with diasporas, and the possibilities of using international experience in Russia. At the conference, RIAC and the Centre for Strategic Research (CSR) presented a joint paper entitled “Proposals for Russia’s Migration Strategy Through 2025.” The paper was presented by RIAC Director of Programs Ivan Timofeev, Head of the Foreign and Security Policy Department of the Centre for Strategic Research and RIAC expert Sergey Utkin, and RIAC expert and member of the Global Migration Policy Associates (GMPA) Professor Irina Ivakhnyuk. Sergey Utkin stated that the paper’s main purpose was to launch a public discussion. Irina Ivakhnyuk noted that the general attitude towards migration processes should be reconsidered. She emphasized that migration was not only a process to be controlled, but also a resource that can be harnessed in order to reach more dynamic rates of economic growth.

During the second day of the conference on September 22, the participants considered the everyday routines of migrants as an area of spontaneous integration. The experts discussed the effect that cultural practices have on migrants’ self-identification, the role religion that plays in their socialization, and the possible use of leisure activities for promoting the integration of migrants into society. A special session “Successes and Problems in Migrant Integration” sponsored by RIAC and the ICRC touched upon the humanitarian aspects of international migration processes. Zanobi Tosi described the experience the countries of Southern Europe have in interacting with refugees and migrants from the south. The expert noted that favourable bilateral cooperation was the key to solving the migration problem. The host state should create certain conditions for refugees and set up special centres to help them register in and integrate into the host state. The refugees must abide by the laws and not create problems for the authorities. The conference participants also discussed the role of domestic and international organizations in socializing refugees and labour migrants, the problems in including migrants in the social, economic and cultural life of host countries, and the main hurdles impeding the socialization of people displaced due to protracted military hostilities. 

Conference Video (Russian, English)

Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article

Poll conducted

  1. Korean Peninsula Crisis Has no Military Solution. How Can It Be Solved?
    Demilitarization of the region based on Russia-China "Dual Freeze" proposal  
     36 (35%)
    Restoring multilateral negotiation process without any preliminary conditions  
     27 (26%)
    While the situation benefits Kim Jong-un's and Trump's domestic agenda, there will be no solution  
     22 (21%)
    Armed conflict still cannot be avoided  
     12 (12%)
    Stonger deterrence on behalf of the U.S. through modernization of military infrastructure in the region  
     4 (4%)
    Toughening economic sanctions against North Korea  
     2 (2%)
 
For business
For researchers
For students