Category Archives: Maastricht and Living

Complex Maastricht – how to throw a party

By Vincent Brenn

If you are into the techno and or deep house scene, then this article about the new, established underground club Complex Maastricht is the right information you want to read about now. The information that is being revealed on the Internet is mainly found on Facebook and on the homepage.  According to the description on Facebook, all events until September are ‘construction’ parties to make the location appealing to students and to set a constant demand for the parties at this location.

            Jeff Mills will set the grand opening in September 2016. Nevertheless, in April this year, Mees Dierdorp, Sandeep and especially Fritz Kalkbrenner warmed us up by playing extremely well, letting the crowd go crazy. The underused music hall will re-establish itself into an underground club of Maastricht, playing mainly techno, deep house and other deep electronic dance music. This is what the Luc Boers, organiser of the Complex Maastricht, promised. For further clarification what Complex Maastricht is all about, I have contacted Luc to conduct an interview with him. The following questions are about creating a general understanding of the invention of Complex Maastricht.

How did you come up with the idea of Complex Maastricht?

Luc: The ambition always was an own event location when we started with events back in 2010. The idea really got big when I met Hans-Paul Nieskens. His mind was just the same as mine and we looked for venue’s in Maastricht with a night permit till 05:00 and the Music Hall, in the middle of the centre, was big but perfect.

To what extent is Complex connected to the other events going on in Maastricht, Strictly Vinyl and the “Fest.” parties?

Luc: Complex Maastricht is just an event location that can be rented by organizations such as Strictly Vinyl or Fest, or anyone else who has a good idea to throw a party! We will do 2 Claydrum parties every year with the biggest headliners in the underground genre like Fritz Kalkbrenner or if we can make it work with his brother Paul 😉

What is the concept behind Complex and who came up with Claydrum in the first place?

Luc: In 2010 I started Claydrum when I noticed that the techno (underground) scene in Maastricht was really small and I just love techno music. The first party (http://partyflock.nl/party/168300:Driehoek) with headliner Sandeep was sold-out (350 visitors) and almost everyone loved it. From that point, I worked my ass off to raise the bar every year for 6 years now and that is also what our (Hans-Paul and me) new concept Complex Maastricht is all about: raising the bar of underground clubbing in Maastricht. With Complex Maastricht, the underground scene can grow again with events till 2000 people. The Grand Opening of Complex Maastricht with living legend Jeff Mills will be on the 24th of September with a top notch show and sound-system.

What was Complex before you reinvented it and who owns the former Music-hall?  Luc: Complex Maastricht is a whole new concept in the venue formerly known as Music Hall. This rough diamond near the centre of the city was never properly exploited cause of the colours and awful black/white tile floor. We put a new sound absorbing floor in and painted everything inside black as a wormhole to give the venue a club feeling and I think we succeeded. Everyone wants to see and feel it!

Is Complex/Claydrum a student initiative?

Luc: Neither. Claydrum is just an event organisation for every techno lover, Complex is a club/venue for events for everyone who loves partying but we will have a lot of student parties so in some ways it is student-centred.

Is it true that the Gemeente Maastricht also has its share of the financing of Complex?

Luc: No, that’s not true, we finance everything with our companies.

How many people came for Fritz Kalkbrenner?

Luc: The event with the German master Fritz Kalkbrenner attract a massive 1900 visitors.

Apparently the organizer of Complex and Muziekgieterij are competing and have become rivals, is this true?

Luc: Complex Maastricht will fill in the gap of the Muziekgieterij and the huge Mecc Maastricht location. Muziekgieterij has a capacity of 900 now (in the future of 1400), Complex Maastricht has a capacity of 2000 and Mecc of 7000. In every big city, there are several locations and they are all competing with each other, that is perfectly normal. Every location has it’s pros and cons and I think it only will get better in Maastricht. This will be the centre of underground music what attracts a lot of people from the region to Maastricht and that is perfect for society.

Are you starting a new concept of daily / weekly events?

Luc: No, we only do co-productions and if the  opportunity arises that we can book a big name such as Fritz Kalkbrenner we do it as a Complex Night.

What is the target group of Complex Maastricht? 

Luc: We do our best to reach all the underground music lovers, international and local students, young creative minds and everyone who wants to join our community. That’s why we have our motto: “Born from our love of underground dance, cold beer and fine food. It’s been quite a journey”

Falling back into a forgotten past: Racism at university

By Hendrik Jaschob

It is a slightly sunny day at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science in Maastricht (FASoS). The first sensations of spring arise and a certain easiness returns on people’s faces. It seems that the dark season of winter slowly gives way. The university backyard blossoms of spring vibes. All at a sudden, however, something happens which you would not expect at a university campus. Next to a group of students that enjoy their lunch, another student is complaining about the massive workload which its study brings him. At this very moment, this student carelessly reveals in his conversation that he would not be a “nigger”. He immediately intends to unsay what he just said, but it is too late. This sentence leaves a vacuum of unconsciousness behind.
What does such a saying mean? How can such form of discrimination be used at a university which emphasises on its international outlook? In a great variety of rankings, the University of Maastricht is well-recognised as one of the most international universities in the world, connecting students of all kinds of colour and ethnicities. It is troublesome that such a word is being used with such carelessness, regarding its meaning of slavery, colonialism, oppression and harassment in the past and even today. In a recent non-representative survey, as the German online magazine Bento reports, the students committee of the University of Cologne, Germany, reached out questions to more than 1600 students about racism. Although their findings are not representative, the results would be horrific in terms of racist and nationalist thinking among students. Obviously, there is no correlation between the incident at FASoS and the student survey in Cologne. Nonetheless, it gives an impression of the deep manifestation racist thinking in European society, even among students.
With regards to the rising danger of right-wing movements all over Europe, it is even more troublesome that racist thinking is also reflected among students. What is more is that populism is on the rise all over the globe, while the 21st century will challenge humanity in a sense that has never known before and which actually requires global solutions and cooperation. We experience a time of increasing global instability which is underlined by global leaders who constantly add oil to the flames such as the potential Republican nominee for the presidential election, Donald Trump who generalises entire social groups as criminals and greatest threat for the future of the United States. But this type of populism is not only limited to the election campaign in the United States. Populism is also on the rise in Western Europe, as Le Front National and Pegida show. It is on the rise in Russia, Hungary, Poland, and also in the global South. The effects of this form of populism are increasingly sensible. The mounting number of burning refugee homes all over Europa and lockdown of borders are influenced by this brinkmanship. Furthermore, it strongly fuels stereotyped thinking. No matter, if white against black, or black against white. No matter, if Christians against Muslims, or Muslims against Christians. One could endlessly add more stereotypes to this list.
Therefore, it would be too dreamy to think that racism has ever disappeared. Stereotypes, xenophobia and racism also exist in a growing global world with more knowledge about different cultures than ever before. Hence, it is worthwhile to remember a phrase that Nelson Mandela, first Black-South African president, once coined when he said that racism would be the blight in human conscience. The incidence at FASoS only shows that the struggle to fight for a world without racist thinking still continues and reminds us of not falling into bygone times of concealment.

Dehumanisation of exams

 

By Milli Ehringhaus

Just like many stories that exist around Maastricht, this one begins in the library. You feel the rising pressure a few weeks before the actual exams. The library starts getting fuller and fuller, and already just the thought of attempting to find a spot makes you start sweating profusely with anxiety, the Running of the Germans being nothing short of the perfect example. Even the minuscule dodgy basement with a felt maximum capacity of three that they call Il Cavo, starts resembling De helpless Alla before 2am. These shifts in mood usually only mean that exams are approaching and quickly at that.

Summaries are passed around in vicious circles, you soon realize that your study drive matches exceed those of tinder, and you keep telling yourself that you still have time, while the To-Do List grows and grows in your sub-conscience. You start living off of deep-frozen pizzas and ready-to- go baguettes from the library counter. The supply of healthy juices, smoothies, protein bars, as well as supplements and vitamins, are stored in preparation similar to animals gathering food for a harsh winter. You see many more students slumming it in their PJs than on any normal library day. The simple fact that the library stays open until midnight might seem absurd, laundry only gets done when you wore your last pair of underwear, and even then you debate turning them inside out. These are the sick symptoms of exam week approaching.

When you have surpassed the final days of this gruesome harsh winter, you meet your fellow survivors at the MECC. Going up the escalator itself gives you this unidentifiable rush of excitement and victory explained through the close proximity of this nightmare almost being over. The fluorescent lights make it almost impossible to focus on any of the conversations you are currently engaged in and walking down the endless hallway, with fellow victims desperately trying to engrain the last of their notes into their tired brains. The last step before the ultimate dehumanization is when looking at the posters on the wall where you match your name to some number and seat that you are randomly assigned. You carry on to your seat in a mellow whisper, restrained by the gazing eyes of some of the tutors you recognize from previous tutorials. The chore of asking to relieve oneself becomes a strategic task of time management. “Toilet-Tickets”, is this alliteration to be taken seriously?

Furthermore, the intense back and forth sprints done up and down the aisles to the restroom from the motivated few keep you entertained while struggling from question to question. The sensation of peering at the gigantic digital clock, with its aggressive block lettering, gives you a sense of God-like authority prevailing your inner-self. The regulated time announcements coming from the distant corners of the never-ending hall, give you a prison-like impression. The average student from any other university would see this kind of educational reform as relentless, but Maastricht survivors see this more as a form of self-preservation. We are strong.

pic Milli

The moment of triumph when you rejoice with your friends on the outside of the MECC doors is incomparable with any other pre-existing emotions. While breathing in hints of cannabis and tobacco in the designated area, you feel freedom after weeks of being trapped in tiresome routine. The only positive thing that comes from this dehumanization, is that the Maastricht Syndrome ceases to exist. See you in the last week of March, my peers.

“We’ll Always Have Each Other.”

By Milli Ehringhaus

When starting out fresh in a new environment, everything appears harder than it should. Specifically, when moving to Maastricht certain questions arise. Groceries at Jumbo or Albert Heijn? Which side of the bridge appeals as a more beneficial living area (East side vs. West side)? Cool Runnings or Club 69? And the list goes on… Within all the chaos of reality and out of the ordinary “newness,” is it not always more comforting to embark on this journey with someone by your side?

When speaking more precisely about changing environments; from any place in the world to the small city of Maastricht. It seems only fair to admit that the cultural diversity in the capital of Limburg brings about an immediate sense of unity. Nationalities from all over the world unite here, and a prompt connection sparks within the social groups, creating nothing short of a family.

More often than not, social frameworks build up upon similarities. Friends and acquaintances are made through the same faculties, tutorial groups, or nationalities. But what makes this sense of community so enchanting, is the fact that once acquaintances are made, a neighborly and casual bond is created, adding to the warm atmosphere of the Inner City Library or to the alternative Banditos. For if you are lucky, you will meet the person that almost ran you over on his bike, at the after-party of the FASoS Christmas Ball. And if nothing else, you have one more person to awkwardly nod at while climbing the never-ending stairs to the top floor. Of course, random coincidences exist, in which you meet the DJ you saw last night at Take 5 the next day, and an aspiring friendship grows into much more than merely drunk small talk in the outside smoking area.

This aptitude to openness in Maastricht gives a continuous feeling of comfort within the more significant changes of the individual. If you have found yourself in the position of a struggling first year; nervous, overwhelmed, and friendless, especially during the forced introduction circles, you can maybe relate to the relief of meeting someone you connect with. Usually these common interests are discussed in the ten-minute smoking breaks between lectures. And after just a few weeks, these common interests unite you and others in a very strong and lengthy bond. In Maastricht, it seems these are the criteria to becoming family. Not only do you study with your fellow pupils, but because of the city’s size you run into them everywhere, be it at the library, riding by on their bike, or in the line at the fry place after the 2am closing of Il Cavo.

Due to the fact, that most students come from abroad, seeing your family is not an option. Your social framework you build up becomes your family. Your daily chores or tasks turn into something like family traditions. You are bound to run into some part of your crew while passing by the Shamrock on your way home, or on your way to Aldi to buy booze for the nightly pre-drink endeavors. These routinely occasions in which you see people you want to see in “unexpected” places, this is the sense of unity and community created by the marvelous Maastricht.

In reality, we are privileged to be part of such an ever-growing family within the midst of our exam desperations, as well as the fight for a spot in the quiet area of the library, and last resort study sessions in front of the intimidating doors of the MECC. A feeling of ease is spread throughout the entire city because of the comfort of our community.

Let’s be honest, this all sounds like a cliché romantic comedy for the masses. But in the end, is it not always more encouraing throughout the search for a valid GBA, the borderline alcoholism provoked by the student life in Maastricht and the last minute research paper inspirations, to have a framework of people you know and trust?

Here we can find ourselves in Jack Johnson’s famous words, “it’s always better when we’re together.”

The Maastricht Paradox

Milli Ehringhaus and Catharina Wahls

Leaving home for the first time every student yearns for the freedom to do and please as he or she desires. The precedent image of “college life” that we have all gained from iconic films such as “American Pie” sets high expectations. Studying in one of the most liberal countries in Europe, should that not be the foundation for a fabulous fiesta?

And even though when walking through the FASoS Faculty, with the Venus sex store and Coffee Shop “Club 69” right across the street, you feel as though you are strutting through hipster central in Berlin, however those vibes do not go much further than the faculty itself. In reality, the hipsters of Maastricht are the ones with the man buns, and the party scene stays within the walls of the library. However, for the more adventure-seeking students, the occasional night out consists of multiple stages.

  1. WhatsNEXT*

*Check out the new app, which shows all current events in Maastricht

Typically speaking, all events in Maastricht are known several days if not weeks in advance, therefore all plans are usually those of the forced kind. Let’s take “Double Trouble” for example. Everyone knows that this diverse event of multiple DJs in the same venue takes place regularly. And even though, one could calculate the date of Double Trouble easily, it is just as fulfilling to anxiously await the Facebook event with anticipation. If we are really honest, everyone loves the fact that the abandoned warehouse vibes of the Muziekgieterij bring us back to the Hippie vibes found at UCM.

  1. 8:30 am Tutorial

When deciding whether or not to actually leave the books behind and enjoy one night of freedom, usually the answer is: “I have tutorial at 8:30 am tomorrow.”

To this there are two solutions or even opportunities that present themselves. Firstly, you could decide to be responsible, study and pretend to be grown up. Or you adapt. Meaning, you learn how to learn when you are hung-over. Worst case scenario you consciously decide to be a border-liner with a steady grade of 5.5 or you redo the course next year. If we adhere to the latter, we are able to move to the third stage of an “occasional” night out.

  1. Let’s get BUZZED

Arriving at the holy doors of Aldi, the two Euro wine usually saves most students from a hefty debt, quantity over does quality in this case. You can already feel the headache of tomorrow with the first sip. For those of us that missed the 7pm deadline of Aldi, the night shop is always a promising option for a beer or more on the road.

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  1. “Who lives here?”

Whilst drinking for the sake of drinking, one of your friends receives the enlightened text: “House party.” Usually this message comes from a friend of a friend of friends, but because of Maastricht’s size you end up knowing half of the people there anyway, which works out in your favor or not. Upon arrival, both groups are too trashed to care and social networking takes its toll. If you are lucky, the house party ends up being better than most clubs in Maastricht. And, if you are very lucky, the Politie on bikes roll in around 4 am, exceeding almost all opening hours of downtown Maastricht.

However, in the instances that the House party does get “shut-down” before 1 am, if you can call four Politie on bikes that omnipotent, Il Cavo presents itself as an alternative. Upon arrival, you are welcomed by a senior bouncer who stands in front of a door, which you would never notice during the day. If you are lucky enough to make it down the stairs without falling, behind this door lurks the first steps to a prominent night life in Maastricht. One can laugh and dance away all the sorrows of what turn the night will take, and where the party will continue next.

  1. De Last Resort De Alla

We can all agree that De Alla gives some kind of unification and feeling of togetherness in Maastricht. All desperate to continue the festivities meet there. You have already decided to either skip that 8:30 am tutorial or brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack and survive until 10:30am. De Alla is for the survivors. Even though you have to pass through sketchy metal detectors or bribe the occasional bouncer, once inside you meet all sorts of personas and probably your best friend who you lost three hours ago. From Ralph Lauren law students to black eyed techno-lovers. Once you pass the stage of vomiting your guts out in front of De Alla, I think it is safe to say, you can call Maastricht your home.

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You would think that Maastricht has a strong foundation for a glamorous night life. If we take into consideration, that every second person you meet is an aspiring DJ. Medicine students who you normally never see or hear and reside on the other side of the bridge, but are willing to supply party favors for all those in need, and the famous SBE students who could probably support the Bouncer’s whole family with their pocket money, then you would think that this town has the potential to become the next city that never sleeps. But wrong. Sadly, reality strikes here, the library seems to be open longer than most of the clubs and the Politie rolls in fairly early most nights due to complaining neighbors.

Of course, alternative places exist and often give a refreshing insight on the night scene in Maastricht, like the LBB or Food Bank, which give more of a calm atmosphere. You would think that because of all the cultural diversity in Maastricht there is a high tolerance of everyone and everything. This noticeably does not apply to some students however, who have to disguise to enter the Food Bank on Fridays. Sad but true.

If we take into consideration the Maastricht Syndrome and the Maastricht Paradox, it appears there is no hope. All jokes aside, we are striving for a brighter future. Until then, see you in De Alla.

 

 

 

“SORRY, THIS BRIDGE IS CLOSED TODAY”

By Diya Dilan and Fiona O’Hara

On Sunday the 15th of November, Amnesty International Maastricht Students (AIMS) assembled on the Sint Servaas Bridge. The aim: to raise awareness of the struggle the refugees are facing today at the European borders. By creating a human border we kept people from crossing the bridge. This made the citizens of Maastricht experience a tiny part of the difficulties the refugees face when they try to reach Europe. Was it successful, you ask? We had anticipated bad reactions, but none of us was prepared for some people becoming violent. Even the elderly tore our hands apart and charged through us. In some extreme cases cyclists didn’t stop, assuming we would open the chain to let them through. One individual even threatened to call the police. So maybe our border was physically not as defiant as we had hoped for, but what truly mattered was that we did engage in some meaningful debates with the citizens of Maastricht.

Since the civil war has started in Syria back in 2011, there has been a vast amount of people fleeing the warzone. More than 750,000 refugees have arrived in Europe by sea. And this is only a small amount compared to the refugees who are travelling by land or have found refuge in neighbouring countries. Since the Paris Attacks, France has launched numerous airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. “We are convinced that we must continue to strike ISIL in Syria. We will intensify our strikes,” is what the French President François Hollande said after the attacks in a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Russia has stated that it is going to launch airstrikes against ISIL as well. This escalation of violence has caused more bad than good and has put the lives of Syrians in even more danger than before.

More children, like the 13 year old Ahmed, might lose their families. More children might be robbed of their childhood because of this senseless violence. After losing his father in an air strike, Ahmed was forced by circumstances to quit school and maintain his family all on his own. When you hear stories like that, it makes it easier to emotionally attach to the refugee crisis. To stop seeing people who flee as a mere number. This was something we, as AIMS, found a useful tool to help us appeal to the citizens of Maastricht. However, not everyone shared the same view on refugees with us.

 

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By: Brian Megens Photography

One of the citizens we encountered believed that the borders should be closed to protect Europe. Bear in mind that this was just two days after the horrific attacks in Paris and Beirut. In hindsight, we can see that this argument is not valid since many of the suspected attackers have been identified as Belgian nationals and not refugees at all (if only Donald Trump paid attention to this instead of pledging to create a Nazi-style Muslim refugee database). We tried to emphasize the fact that the vast majority of refugees are fleeing those same people who committed the awful crimes in Paris. We tried to appeal to the citizen’s humanity and asked her if she was okay with the fact that people in the Middle East have to deal with the fear of a terrorist attack like the ones in Paris and Beirut every single day.

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By: Brian Megens Photography

Although this self-preservation attitude is completely understandable, the idea that refugees are dangerous is fear mongering propaganda spread by conservative politicians and attention-seeking media outlets. These attitudes are putting innocent people’s lives in serious danger, not just the refugees but also the lives of all Muslims in Europe. With reports of a Muslim woman being pushed into an oncoming train at Piccadilly Circus in London, we can see that the rise of Islamophobia, particularly directed at the refugees but certainly not in all cases, is a serious problem that has to be stopped. It is good to mention here that ISIL, in no way, represents the Islamic religion. They have corrupted a peaceful religion and used it for their own means. According to a recent Pew Research Study, only 0.00006625% of the global Muslim community supports extremist activities. Moreover, a recent study of Interpol shows that only 2% of terror attacks in Europe are religiously motivated.

Something that should be reported seriously and frequently but has been nearly neglected, is that these refugees are ordinary people, who once lived comfortable lives just like our own. They had well-paying jobs and family homes. These same people are now searching for the security that has been unfairly taken away from them. These people are not the benefit-scrounging thieves or ISIL terrorists that many of the people who we encountered on the bridge believed they could be. By the end of our conversations with the public there were many who started sceptical but eventually either compromised with us or agreed completely. This just goes to show that once you forget the bigoted fear-mongering and political propaganda, you can see that more needs to be done to help and protect the refugees in Europe.

Anyone and everyone can do their part to make this change; Whether it’s by donating money and clothes to charity organisations like the Dutch Parcels for Refugees, opening your home to a family in need, or even simply signing a petition to put pressure on the government to help improve the current situation. If you are really keen you can of course block of your local bridge, annoying cyclists and people who are late for their trains, like we did. Amnesty International, in the end, believes that the borders should stay open. And we believe that you should too.

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Quo vadis Europe? – The refugee crisis as pull test for the EU

By Leon Heckmann

The refugee crisis is certainly the most pressing issue currently for the European Union and Europe in general. As the civil war in Syria continues with tremendous brutality and multiple fighting parties involved, millions of refugees from the Middle East make their way to Europe, with thousands still arriving on the borders of the EU every single day. The crisis has long turned into a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented scale, as images of overloaded boats packed with refugees in the Mediterranean and dead bodies of children on Turkish beaches shocked the world. Some analysts even speak of a new Völkerwanderung, in light of the fact that more than four million Syrians have fled their home country according to UNHCR reports. Politically, the continuous inflow of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East but also from Africa and the Balkan region painfully revealed how unprepared the EU’s asylum and migration policy was to a crisis of such a large scale. The current system, based on the Dublin III-regulation, has de facto collapsed. For many it seems that the EU has lost control over the situation, as a consequence of which some Member States have returned to nationalistic policies of isolation and blame-shifting. With Hungary setting up fences to close off its borders and several other Member States temporarily reintroducing border controls, core achievements of the EU, such as the free movement in the Schengen-area, are concretely endangered.  In addition, the crisis has revealed how fragile the ties of European solidarity and fundamental values become when sensitive national interests are concerned. In fact, EU solidarity as a whole is at stake and the Union faces one of its greatest challenges ever.

Fall-back into nationalistic policies of isolation and closed borders: Fence at the Hungarian border
Fall-back into nationalistic policies of isolation and closed borders: Fence at the Hungarian border

To illuminate and debate this topic from different perspectives, UNSA Maastricht, ESA Concordantia and Studium Generale recently hosted a panel debate on the European refugee crisis in the Dominicanen Bookshop in Maastricht. Dr. Ammar Abo Hamida, a Syrian refugee from Aleppo, introduced the discussion by telling his story. Thirty-six years old, he had a highly qualified job as an internist at the University hospital of Aleppo, where he also obtained his education and PhD degree. But when the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, it soon became clear to him that staying in Syria was not an option. In 2012 finally, he decided to take the most dangerous route to Europe: via the Mediterranean. He made it and eventually arrived in the Netherlands, however leaving his wife and children back in Syria as he considered it too dangerous for them to come with him. From his first-hand experience, he pointed out one of the major weaknesses of the European asylum system: The lengthiness of asylum procedures, during which refugees are not allowed to work. In practice, highly qualified people like Dr. Hamida are doomed to wait until their application for asylum is completed. This normally takes at least six months, in some European countries even distinctly longer.

Professor Leo Lucassen, Research Director at the International Institute for Social History of Leiden University, pointed out in the debate that “this constitutes a severe waste of human capital.” He also drew parallels to the refugee crisis in the 1990’s, when Europe faced even larger numbers of migrants as a consequence of the Yugoslavian wars. Germany successfully managed to integrate a total of more than 4.2 million Aussiedler from Russia and former Yugoslavia throughout the 1990’s, a fact which led Professor Lucassen to conclude that “the current crisis is not something we cannot deal with – we already managed in the 1990’s”. Correspondingly, he accused the Dutch government of having intentionally wasted the human capital of refugees in the 1990’s by making procedures lengthy and consciously introducing obstacles to integration, the underlying reasoning being to discourage further refugees from coming to Europe by not creating incentives for them to do so. Professor Lucassen remarked that, from a rational cost-benefit point of view, “this policy is stupid – even if you hate refugees”. Even worse, he pointed to current policies of some EU member states that seem to follow the same rationale: an example being the planned “transit zones” at the German-Austrian border, which made “absolutely no sense from an economic perspective”. On the contrary, Professor Lucassen argued that mass migration could indeed in the long run be mutually beneficial and economically profitable for the European countries, particularly in light of the fact that many EU Member States struggle with declining population numbers and shortages of skilled labor – including Hungary, which currently conducts one of the most isolationist migration policies in the EU. The prerequisite to allow migration to be profitable, however, is for governments of the Member States to invest in integration measures and to actually welcome the refugees as chances, not burdens, for their country.

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So, what conclusions are to be drawn for the EU from the current situation? First of all, it is more than obvious that the EU migration and asylum policy system need to be vastly overhauled, and that such reforms must be concluded quickly. We need binding quotas to allow for a fair and reasonable distribution of asylum-seeking refugees on all 28 Member States of the European Union. It is absolutely unacceptable and incompatible with the basic idea of EU solidarity that some few Member States carry the burden of registering and accommodating the masses of refugees currently arriving in Europe on their own, while the Eastern members of the EU in particular neglect their responsibility and isolate themselves. EU membership implies not only benefits, but also the duty to tackle Union-wide issues such as the refugee crisis. Secondly, all Member States need to reduce bureaucracy in order to speed up the processing of asylum applications and allow for the integration of refugees. This includes in particular the granting of highly qualified migrants, such as Dr. Hamida, faster admission to the job market, as well as integrating young and unskilled refugees into education and training as soon as possible. These are necessary preconditions to allow integration to be successful. Correspondingly, Member States must abandon asylum policies based on deterrent and isolation. These nationalistic policies are no longer feasible in our globalized world of the 21st century and are absolutely incompatible with the concept of open borders and right of free movement which lay at the very core of the European Union.

Finally, policy makers but also we as European citizens need to constantly remember that the people currently coming to us from the Middle East are first and foremost humans, each of whom has a very personal story to tell. Nobody leaves his homeland for no reason, and fleeing from a civil war in a country where the government is bombing its own people is probably the most comprehensive and human reaction whatsoever. Dr. Ammar Abo Hamida, the internist from Aleppo, is despite all the problems and deficiencies happy about having made it to Europe safely, where we all have the privilege of living in peace and security. He concluded the debate in the Dominicanen Bookshop with the following: “I am very grateful for everyone who creates a space a hope and light in this world of darkness.”