On 2 December 2015, one month after her initial visit, Colleen Bell has delivered yet another lecture as part of this year’s last Ambassador’s Forum in the Assembly Hall of the National University of Public Service. In her speech titled “NATO Today and Tomorrow: Active Engagement, Modern Defense” the United States Ambassador to Hungary said that NATO should not be recognized as a simple conglomeration of nation states, but as a political and cultural coalition bound together by such shared goals as peace and prosperity. NATO is not a group fighting against a common enemy, she noted, but an “alliance of principles” inevitably maintaining an open door policy – which accounts for the future accession of Montenegro as well.
NATO needs to evolve constantly, said Colleen Bell. Having strong, reliable and enthusiastic partners are prerequisites to being agile and able to reflect on the new challenges of our times. In order to preserve its legitimacy, the organization has to be able to provide complex responses to humanitarian catastrophes similar to the November Paris shootings. The ambassador quoted Barack Obama, president of the United States: the Paris attack was not only an attack on the French capital, but an attack on all liberal democracies, Western cultures and the world itself. Active engagement is of high priority which is reflected well in the Readiness Action Plan as accepted at the 2014 Wales summit, aiming at increasing the security level of the member states. Yet another Wales act has to be kept in mind, namely that of the Budget Control Act, requiring an annual 2% GDP military spend from the members by 2025. It is not enough to live by similar principles, NATO needs active participation – summarized Colleen Bell.
The Forum concluded in a roundtable discussion led by Dr. Boglárka Koller, NUPS Vice-Dean for Science and International Relations at the Faculty of International and European Studies, in the presence of Dr. Anna Péczeli, research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Defense Studies and Márton Ugrósdy, researcher at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade. As it was said, the upcoming Warsaw summit shall concentrate on the possible EU-NATO conflicts, the consolidation of the Russian-Ukrainian relations and the establishment of a joint cyber defense strategy.
Prof. Dr. András Patyi, rector of NUPS, was pleased to voice his opinion regarding the event having remained worthy of the Ludovika name. As the prestigious guests and the invited experts discussed such major issues as migration or the future of the European Union, the Forum has remained what the organizers wished it will be: a place of complex cultural and political discourse.
Her Excellency Maria Assunta Accili, Ambassador of Italy to Hungary, on the November meeting of the Ludovika Ambassador’s Forum spoke about the complexity of migration and addressed the European idea of solidarity. As she said, among the founding values of Europe we find hospitality, solidarity and charity. None of us should reject those who ask for help, but we have to know how to defend our borders by making a distinction between people in need and economic migrants.
Migration is a cyclic phenomenon – started the speech of the ambassador. While the early 1900s oversaw the emigration of nearly 24 million Italians hoping for a better life, by now Italy has become a transit or a target country. Today 5.5 million people out of a total population of 61 million might be labelled as migrants whereas 4.5 million Italians live abroad. Although the 8.2% ratio of aliens is slightly higher than the European average, Italy continues to grant citizenship for long-term residents. During last year, for example, the population has grown by 130,000 this way and the percentage of mixed marriages has reached 9.4% already. Italy is fortunate enough with the integration processes going on relatively peacefully, while the growth of the workforce accounts for an increase in the GDP as well, even in face of the governmental expenses. Immigrants usually fill positions that Italians would rather not: huge numbers of immigrants work in the agricultural and health sectors, however, they are at home with retail and commerce as well.
The picture is not all rosy though. Italy is a destination for refugees and illegal immigrants as well, so it is no wonder that the small island of Lampedusa has become the symbol of the present migration crisis. The ambassador said that the current international humanitarian catastrophe calls for the revision of priorities in Europe. Selfishness needs to be put aside, whilst despair and fear shall be diminished and we all have to encourage our fellow human beings in finding the possibility of a peaceful life. According to Maria Assunta Accili, we have to help the refugees, but primarily the causes of the problem shall be remedied as the majority of the refugees would prefer to stay at home if that was an option. For success in the long term, unified EU strategies have to be adopted and the European countries shall enter into partnerships with African and Asian countries based on effective asylum policies devoting special attention to sustainable relocation programmes. Uncontrolled migration is a challenge to the stability of the EU, summarized the ambassador, while migrants have to be managed, refugees have to be assisted.
The host of the evening, Anna Molnár, associate professor at NUPS International Relations and Security Studies quoted Federica Mogherini, the current High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: “any narrative of posing “us” and “them” makes no sense at all today. Christians vs. Muslims. Europeans vs. Arabs. Migrants vs. Locals. It is not the Other who will tear our societies apart; it is the fear of the Other that can destroy our societies.” The participants of the closing roundtable session discussing possible solutions to the migration crisis were Dr. Balázs Vízi, NUPS lecturer at the Department of International and European Law and Colonel László Szép.