25 January 2018 - 13:00 - 14:00
Magnus Berntsson, Hande Özsan Bozatli, Dharmendra Kanani, Rainer Münz, Kati Piri, Fatma Şahin

Please note that this event will now take place from 13.00-14.00 at Bâtiment Art 56, Avenue des Arts 56, 1000 Bruxelles.

This event is part of Friends of Europe’s Migration Action initiative, through which we examine the imperative of migration in the context of economic sustainability and demographics, as well as its impact on public services, communities and security. Our approach is based on seeing migration and integration as assets rather than as threats. Changing the current narrative surrounding migration, by emphasising the positive over the negative and presenting citizens with a realistic picture of migration, is one of our key aims. Involving cities and municipalities, private foundations, national governments, international institutions and more, is in our view key to ensuring a more horizontal and holistic approach.

Photo Gallery

Urban responses to refugees

Should you not be able to view the photo gallery, please click here.


Related content:


Migration and integration are not new to Europe, but the current refugee and migrant crisis is on a scale unseen for decades. Europe’s institutions and national governments have yet to forge proper responses – but rising tensions point to the need for a realistic and comprehensive policy that addresses both challenges and opportunities.

12.30 -13.00

Welcome and registration of participants

13.00 -14.00

Refugee flows, while not new, have sent many systems into shock over the last several years, creating tensions between states and their international obligations, as well as between national and local governments. Indeed, while cities and regions are often able to demonstrate resilience on the surface, issues of finance, governance, integration and urban planning are all linked to local systems which are being tested in ways for which they were not designed. The Turkish city of Gaziantep, lying less than 100 km north of Aleppo, and the Swedish city of Gothenburg are two such places. Despite the challenges of hosting large newcomer populations – of the 600,000 Syrians in Gaziantep, only 40,000 live in refugee camps – local authorities have employed innovative solutions in response. What lessons can be learned from the experiences of two cities like Gaziantep and Gothenburg?

  • What are the conditions that lead certain cities to effectively respond to an influx of refugees, while others fall into seeming chaos?
  • How have municipalities like Gaziantep and Gothenburg improved their ability to host and support large numbers of refugees, and what challenges have they faced along the way?
  • What should the national governments and European Union do to ease pressures at the local level?

Welcoming remarks by:

Hande Bozatlı / Honorary President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER)

Speakers include:
Magnus Berntsson / President of the Region of Västra Götaland, Sweden
Rainer Münz / Adviser on Migration and Demography at the European Commission Political Strategy Centre
Kati Piri / Member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)
Fatma Şahin / Mayor of Gaziantep, Turkey

Moderated by
Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Strategy at Friends of Europe


End of debate

Magnus Berntsson
President of the Region of Västra Götaland, Sweden
Magnus Berntsson has an array of political experience on both national and regional levels. After beginning his political career as President of the Christian Democratic Youth Organisation, Berntsson soon gained municipal experience in his home town of Öckerö, where he acted as Second Vice President of the Education Committee. In addition to his current position in Sweden, Berntsson is also President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), as well as President of R-20 – Regions of Climate Action. 
Hande Özsan Bozatli
Honorary President of Assembly of European Regions (AER)
Having begun her career as a medical doctor, even working as the first female doctor in the Turkish city of Artvin, Hande Özsan Bozatli has a unique perspective on regional politics. After serving as Vice President of the Istanbul Special Provincial Council, Bozatli served two successful mandates as President of the AER, promoting the interests of regions on the EU stage by connecting key decision makers with regional networks. Today serving as the organisation’s Honorary President, she has collaborated with both Turkish and European think tanks and NGOs on subjects including democracy, peace, immigration, youth and gender issues.
Dharmendra Kanani
Director of Strategy
Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was Director of Policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England Director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Kanani has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and was advisor for numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.  
Rainer Münz
Advisor on Migration and Demography at the European Commission Political Strategy Centre
Rainer Münz’s migration expertise spans across academia and policy-making. Throughout the years, Münz has been a member of the German Commission on Immigration Reform and the high-level reflection group Horizon 2020-2030 of the European Council. He is currently one of the chairs of the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development as well as being co-chair of IOM’s Migration Advisory Board. Within all these positions, Münz has provided expertise on population change, international migration and demographic aging.
Kati Piri
Member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)
With a focus on foreign affairs, human rights, justice and home affairs, and civil liberties, Kati Piri’s work in the European Parliament extends also to her role as standing rapporteur on Turkey’s accession process. Prior to joining the Parliament, Piri worked as a programme manager for the South Caucasus and Moldova at the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and as a political advisor in the European Parliament where she provided expertise on foreign relations with a particular focus on the Caucasus.
Fatma Şahin
Mayor of Gaziantep
After starting her career in the field of chemical engineering, Fatma Şahin entered politics in 2002 when she was elected to the Turkish Parliament, serving on the Turkish-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission and as Chairman of the Morals and Decency Murders Commission and Research Commission on Violence against Children. In 2011, she was appointed Minister of Family and Social Policies as the only female member of the Cabinet. Şahin was subsequently elected as Mayor of Gaziantep in 2014 and was recently awarded Italy’s Anna Maria Mammoliti Minerva Prize for her and her municipality’s efforts for refugees in Turkey.

In association with



Amanda Rohde, Programme Executive
Tel.: +32 2 893 98 11
Email: amanda.rohde@friendsofeurope.org
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