Greece to focus 3rd GFMD on integrating migration policies in dev't plans

by MARIA ALETA O. NIEVA, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Oct 31 2008 06:03 PM | Updated as of Nov 01 2008 02:03 AM

The next Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) will attempt to move the migrant workers' agenda by focusing on the need to integrate migration policies in development strategies.

“We aim at going further in depth on issues that need to be addressed as a follow-up of previous discussions. We aim at ensuring the thematic continuity of the Forum, but also tackling new issues that constitute today’s challenges in the migration and development field,” said Athanassios Nakos, Deputy Minister of Interior of the Hellenic Republic.

He proposed that the 3rd GFMD carry the title “Integrating Migration Policies in Development Strategies for the Benefit of All and Especially Countries of Origin.”

“We expect all countries to present their experiences, their best practices but also the difficulties they encounter in conceiving or implementing their policies,” said Nakos.

“We do count on your full involvement and support, financial as well, in order to foster the co-ownership of our dialogue. We also count on your active participation in the preparatory work, with your ideas and views and with a constructive criticism as well,” he said. 

Preparations

This early, Nakos said their government is preparing for the hosting of the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), which will be held in Athens on November 4 and 5, 2009.

Nakos said a Greek task force has already been set up, and the Greek chair will closely work with international advisors to ensure that “divergent views on concepts and ideas to be discussed in the third forum are duly taken into account”.

Nakos told an audience of 163 United Nations member state representatives, 28 international organizations, observers and media that they will thoroughly study the outcomes of the previous fora under the Belgian and the Philippines’ chairmanship to create a real platform of new ideas and best practices.

The first GFMD was held in Brussels, Belgium last year.

As earlier explained by GFMD Manila chair Undersecretary Esteban Conejs Jr., the forum is composed of two parts—the first being the intergovernmental meeting and the second is the Civil Society Days, which the Ayala Foundation hosted for two days.

“As to the Civil Society Days, we have entrusted its organization to the Alexandros Onassis Public Welfare Foundation. The foundation already assumed its duties two days ago, when the Ayala Foundation handed over to them the chair,” Nakos said in a speech he delivered during the closing ceremony Thursday night.

3rd GFMD objectives

Nakos would like to focus their efforts on the fact that “international migration cannot be a substitute to development”. He said international migration needs to be an integral part of the development agenda, as well as part of the national, regional and international development strategies.

With that in mind, he said the 3rd GFMD will cover the following objectives:

•    To offer appropriate conditions for a fruitful, open and frank dialogue on these issues;
•    To share best practices, to create a source of inspiration for our governments in conceiving and implementing migration policies. Regional and international stakeholders, at a differentiated degree, have also a very important role to play in promoting, coordinating and implementing these.

In terms of regional processes and stakeholders, Nakos announced that heads of state and government of the European Union member-states have adopted the “European Pact on Immigration and Asylum” just a few days ago.

By adopting political guidelines at the highest level, the EU and its member-states expressed their “commitment to conduct a fair, effective and consistent policy for dealing with the challenges and opportunities which migration represents. Tthis common policy must be founded on proper management of migratory flows, in the interests not only of the host countries but also of the countries of origin and of the migrants themselves.”

He assured the delegates that Greece will work to ensure the continuity and institutional memory of the conference.

The Greek official was also happy to say that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has accepted their invitation to attend the interstate forum.

Migration as tool for growth

He also acknowledged that important changes in the political, economic and social scenes have a great impact on migration.

“As a result, we can only confirm that in migration, there is an increasing interdependence of all countries, whether countries of origin, of transit, or of destination. Interdependence is the key issue that we need to take into account in conceiving, adopting and implementing our migration policies at all levels,” he said.

He explained that in Greece, migration is not anymore considered as a temporary phenomenon, and that their policy is constantly reviewed and adopted to the changing situation.

“Migration, in our internal policy, is now deemed to be a tool for growth. In that sense, our migration policy aims at an orderly migration, with due respect to the rights of individuals, the migrants themselves and their integration in our society.

Just like the first and the second GFMD, Greece also wants to maximize the benefits from international migration and minimize its negative impact and to be able to work so that migration becomes a choice instead of a necessity.