Josip Joško Paro, Croatian ambassador to the U.S., addressed BYU students in the Kennedy Center about the refugee crisis in Europe Wednesday afternoon Jan 20, 2016. Paro told BYU students that the crisis consists of several layers of migration and provided his solutions.
Paro has also served as an ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the U.K. and as a Croatian representative in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Paro said the refugee crisis is a universal crisis, as 60 million people are considered refugees worldwide. “Imagine what economic and cultural potentials people can have,” he said. “The essence of what they can do is an enormous burden we have to share. There needs to be an increase of sharing and that is not happening.”
Paro said the crisis resonates with people because they fear the mass amount of Muslim refugees will influence their Christian lifestyles or threaten their security. He said people worry and question if the refugees will be able to assimilate into another way of life.
“The universal solution to this fear is knowledge. We are afraid of Islam because we don’t know anything about it,” Paro said, “The crisis consists in the lack of ability to absorb those people without detriment for our way of life.”
He said what is missing is the fact that there is no equal burden sharing. Countries are reluctantly accepting refugees and later starting to regret this decision. Some countries are building fences to prevent refugees from coming closer.
Paro said due to the crisis, the causes and challenges that have have been presented can be seen as opportunities. “This crisis is so important, it can put an end to the most important project of peacemaking in the history of mankind,” Paro said.
He said the solution to this crisis is “coming together and sharing the burden.” He also said the European Union should act as one, which can be difficult considering it consists of 28 different countries and cultures. But Paro said the history of the European Union was a project built on crisis.
Paro explained that peace in the Middle East is not possible with a single intervention. It should be a joint effort by all. He said the peace efforts in Syria and Iraq have to include Russia, Iran, Arab, China and countries of the Arab Peninsula.
“The world is getting smaller and smaller. If we do not find the ways to structure our security in a way that will include everyone, it is not going to be good. We have to work on our ecological differences, find common ground and act when it comes to climate change and security,” Paro said.
“The whole humankind is actually a history of migration. We’re all migrants.” Paro said, “the future is more migration, not less migration.”