Slovakia’s ex-premier: What kind of society are refugees going to?

Iveta Radičová, 59, served as the first woman prime minister of Slovakia, from 2010 to 2012. She has taught sociology at Oxford University, Comenius University, and the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

Radičová spoke with’s Rick Zedník at the Women In Parliaments (WIP) Global Summit in Amman, Jordan.

Slovakia will hold the presidency of the EU Council from 1 July. What does it mean for Slovakia, and what can it achieve?

First of all, we will see the result of [the] referendum in Great Britain. I hope that the result [will be] that nothing is changed. But if [the result is the] opposite, the presidency will be totally different. Totally different. So, we have two scenarios:

If Britain is inside, and we continue to discuss what is really the trouble for [the] EU and [the] competitive advantage of [the] European Union — higher productivity, increase of economic growth, and decrease of unemployment — [then] I am sure these issues [will be] on the table, together with what to do [about] refugees.

If [the result] is another scenario, I think the question will be very open: Why has this happened? What [went] wrong? And what [are our] chances to continue?

How should Europe create a unified strategy to handle the refugee crisis?

The major question is not only: How to behave [towards] refugees? But also: To what kind of society are these refugees going? Or: Where is integration [a] real possibility? So, [it is about the] preparation of [the] population. And, openly, Europe is divided. Not only concerning [the] issue of refugees, but much deeper, concerning the goals of [the] European Union.

There are at least three different goals:

  • Part of the countries see it like federalisation, together with [the] European Commission and [the] European Parliament.
  • Part of the countries see it only as a free market, [a] common market, like Great Britain and many other countries.
  • And [for] some countries, the goal is social economic equalisation of this region, this continent. [This is] the major goal for countries in transition [post-Communism].
    Answers and reactions [correspond] to these different goals. That’s why it is so complicated to find [a] common solution and consensus. I think we have to [keep] in mind these divisions and try to define common interest.

I am sure that all countries are prepared to help people in need. Another question is real integration into society. These are two different stories. If we talk about solidarity to temporarily help these people, I think it is visible and it works. But to integrate people into society needs — at least in part of Europe — much longer time, because [the] population is not prepared, especially because it is an unknown phenomenon for them, and secondly because they fear for their very weak social economic position.

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