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Round Table on Migration at Polit.ru Debating Club

Polit.ru invited Russian and foreign experts on migration to the round table. Daniel Alexandrov was among the discussants.

On October 1, 2011 in the framework of public lectures "Polit.ru" a round table on migration was held. Among the invited discussants were French experts, Catherine de Wenden - Doctor of Political Science at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, Hervé Le Bras, Research Director of the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED), and their Russian colleagues: Alexei Miller - historian, Professor at the Central European University (Budapest) and State Humanitarian University, the leading researcher of Social Sciences Academy of Sciences, and director of SESL and the deputy director for science of HSE in St. Petersburg  professor Daniel Alexandrov.

During the round table the participants discussed questions of the control of migration flows, the formation of attitudes towards migrants in the host society and the impact migrants have on receiving societies. These issues are especially important for post-Soviet countries as diverse migration waves are overlapping the process of nation-building in the region.

Catherine de Wenden told about the dual and contradictory immigration policy in France, which faced the influx of large numbers of Muslims from former colonies. Also she told that there are radically opposite opinions in society on whether to close the borders or not. At the same time Catherine acknowledged that migration cannot be completely prohibited anyway for both economic and demographic reasons.

Herve Le Bras said that migration is an economic  phenomenon rather than political. However, this question is often used by politicians in order to attract attention before elections. In fact, French polls revealed that people put the problem of migration on 9 - 10 places when they range them according to importance.

Alexei Miller talked about the fact that society turns blind to the problems of migrants, hence their rights are very insecure; it leads to the aggravation of the situation. Due to the absence of trade unions and lack of rights, migrants are transformed into "consumable resource" of cheap labor, and neither they nor their children get citizenship, social security and ways to ensure normal life standards.

Daniel Alexandrov devoted his speech to the complications of migration studies, including, for example, lack of access to information and moral panics (when mass media publishes unchecked information). Professor Alexandrov also commented on the problem of integration of migrants into labor market: "A lot depends on the host side. We have a problem of the host society, not of the migration. A successful host society easily accepts all the new waves of migration. Another story is when the host community does not know what to do with itself. It was correctly stated, that the idea of a welfare state is being dismantled right now. I think that this is not just a political process, but also a profound economic trend - we see the financial crisis of a welfare state everywhere. "

Another important problem in his opinion is the lack of skilled personnel, especially in working professions, because ethnic majority perceived other work besides the office as life failure. In this case overproduction of personnel with higher education will be evident in a few years, while there will be shortage of skilled workers in Russia. This niche be can filled by migrants. However, it is necessary to organize effective training programs for workers.

This event was the first in a series of meetings organized together with the French Embassy. The main topic of this event was international migration and the consequences that it causes. The problem of migration is one of the central that European and Russian society faced both. It is not surprising that the discussion was really insightful and interesting.

You can find the full text of public lecture here: http://www.polit.ru/article/2011/11/09/discussion/