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Migration policy is not one size fits all

Oleksiy Goncharenko
February 20, 2024

Migration is one of the greatest challenges facing Europe in the 21st century, yet we must face the fact that our policy has failed. The time has come for a new, honest approach to migration.

One of the clearest mistakes when addressing migration, is that we have been trying to find one easy solution to a very complex issue. There isn’t one simple approach that will work for everyone. Different nations have different needs.

The biggest question is how we best address the challenge of migration. Theoretically, there have always been three possible options: to advocate for the integration of migrants into the society where they live now, to accept them into our societies but not to integrate them so that migrants can protect and save their own distinct culture and identity, and the third one is to push for them to return to their countries of origin. Deciding the best approach has proven difficult since the migration debate started in earnest in 2015. Differing migrant groups and host nations require different solutions to the same question.

Differing migrant groups and host nations require different solutions to the same question Quote

Some migrants will do their best to assimilate into their new home country. Others will loudly highlight their differences and assert their desire to maintain an unchanged cultural identity in the society they live in, which can cause conflict and civil unrest if not managed properly.

Looking to my own nation of Ukraine. Many Ukrainians fled the country after Russia’s unprovoked invasion. Nations have taken them into their homes, and we can only ever be grateful for the support that they received in finding a place to be. Our diaspora is uniquely positioned to assess the way in which European nations carry out their migration and asylum policies. Yet, the Ukrainian government is eager for Ukrainians who fled the war to return home as soon as possible. Some Ukrainians have come back even though the war is far from over.

Another challenge is that some countries have been more affected because of migration than others. This is because they are located next to the conflict zones. For example, Türkiye and Poland have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from war torn Syria and Ukraine respectively. In return, nations across Europe are supporting the two host nations. They are a great example of nations fulfilling their international duties. From these neighbouring nations others can then choose to take in refugees to alleviate the burden on host nations.

As Member States of the Council of Europe, we must work out on a new strategy on how we can address migration. It is not possible to have the same approach in each country and expect them to fulfil it regardless of the situation on the ground. We must see migration as an opportunity to boost the economy, to enrich our cultures but at the same time to find a balance with preserving our own customs and traditions.

Oleksiy Goncharenko

Oleksiy Goncharenko is the MP for Odesa, Ukraine and the founder of the Ukrainian network of educational and cultural centres — the Goncharenko Centre.

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