Berlin, June 20-21, 2015
Mehran Kamrava, Director of CIRS, focused on three separate but interrelated themes. First, he emphasized the importance of consistency in the European Union’s approach to the issue of human rights and refugees. It is important for the EU to lead by example rather than propagate the values of ethical foreign policy for others while paying insufficient attention, or altogether ignoring, the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities and refugees inside the European Union or altogether ignoring the issue. Second, Kamrava warned against over-emphasis on the role of civil society organizations as agents of positive change. Using the Palestinian example, he argued that despite being agents of democratization in theory, often times CSOs can becomes means for the personal employment of a particular class of professionals who can speak the proper language of international NGOs and, eventually, lead to a disempowering of society. A third theme of discussion revolved around the issue of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Kamrava examined the underlying reasons for the development of some of the recent major changes to Saudi foreign policy and what, if anything, the European Union can do to influence Saudi international behavior.