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The challenges of migration: upholding fundamental European values

'The migration crisis is forcing us all to have the courage of our convictions. We have to stand together to uphold our values, also in difficult times. Europeans and newcomers must respect and embrace European values,’ says foreign minister Bert Koenders. He will be speaking at a Presidency seminar on European values convened by the Netherlands in Strasbourg on Tuesday 2 February.

Programma van het Nederlandse voorzitterschap van de Raad van de Europese Unie

Freedom and hospitality

The refugee crisis is asking us Europeans how we can combine openness and freedom with hospitality. People who seek refuge here have a right to expect their fundamental rights to be safe. But we can also expect them to embrace our European values. How tolerant must or may recipient countries be?

An open and frank discussion is more urgent than ever before. The Netherlands is organising the seminar for more than 100 representatives of the EU member states, institutions and organisations, and civil society organisations. They will debate how institutions, public authorities, societies and migrants can together shoulder responsibility for our common European values.

Mr Koenders’ opening statement at the conference will be followed by a key note speech by the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland. The Italian State Secretary, Sandro Gozi, will be taking part in the discussion and panel discussions will be held with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, and the Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Michael O' Flaherty. The Netherlands will be represented by the Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, publicist Paul Scheffer and others. Mr Koenders will also represent the Council of the European Union in debates in the European Parliament on Tuesday evening and Wednesday.