The event on “Representation and Participation in the European Elections: Views from Second Generation Immigrants and Refugees” was successfully concluded

The representation and participation of second generation migrants and refugees in the European Elections was the central theme of the event “Representation and Participation in the European Elections: Views from Second Generation Migrants and Refugees” held on April 25, 2024.

The event was co-organized by Europe Direct ELIAMEP Attica in collaboration with the Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee Issues of the City of Athens (ACCMR), with the participation of the Union of Ukrainian Women in Greece and the support of Melissa Network.

The guests were Mr. Athanasios Chimonas (Deputy Mayor for Social Integration of Migrants and Refugees of the City of Athens), Mr. Nikolaos Chrysogelos (Deputy Mayor of Climate Governance and Social Economy of the City of Athens), Ms. Konstantina Vardaramatou (Director, KOSMOS, Candidate for MEP), Ms. Roza Vrettou ( Candidate for MEP, PASOK- Movement for Change), Mr. Georgios Stamatis (Member of Parliament, New Democracy) and Mr. Thodoris Antonopoulos (Journalist, LIFO), who moderated the discussion.

“The inclusion of people with a migrant and refugee background in the debate about the upcoming European Parliament elections is very important, especially during the critical times we are going through,” said Mr. Athanasios Chimonas, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration of Migrants and Refugees of the City of Athens. Continuing, he pointed out that the European Union and its institutions need to turn their attention to cities and municipalities to strengthen integration which, he noted, is the only long-term answer to racism and xenophobia. “In Athens”, he underlined, “the local government, among other initiatives, by strengthening the institution of the Council for the Integration of Migrants and Refugees, which give the opportunity to participate in collective consultation and decision-making processes, seeks to contribute to a Europe without discrimination and actually creates conditions of inclusion”.

After the tour of the photography exhibition “PHOTOVOICE”, which has been created within the framework of the program entitled “AGENCY PROJECT. Vote with her”, a participatory workshop followed. The participants discussed in groups individual topics such as the lack of representation of migrant women and refugees in European Union politics, the role of mass media and social media, the role of NGOs, the current institutional framework for naturalization and citizenship issues, as well as the existing distorted social beliefs.

The dialogue highlighted the problems faced by migrants and refugees, as well as possible solutions that could be implemented at the local and European level. The difficulty in the naturalization process was mentioned as the main problem. At the same time, the need to give time and space to migrant communities to express themselves and defend their rights was mentioned.

The dialogue also highlighted the role of social media as a platform for migrants and refugees to share experiences, ideas and opinions. However, the negative aspects were also highlighted, such as the reproduction of negative stereotypes and the encouragement of violence. The need to highlight migration news in the media was also mentioned.

Participants also expressed the difficulty of feeling that they have an identity and that they are citizens with full and equal rights. In addition, they highlighted the role of NGOs and civil society as an important factor in the exercise of social policy in matters of migration and asylum.

The guest speakers highlighted the New Deal on Migration and Asylum as an important step in defending the rights of migrants. Then, they mentioned problems that migrants face, as well as the social perceptions that surround them. Finally, the speakers exchanged views on possible solutions and opportunities, as well as the role of civil society in dealing with the problems that have emerged.