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Richard von Weizsäcker Forum: Germany and the Refugee Story

05 October 2016. The current debate on migration requires solutions that go beyond politics and national borders; instead, the biggest challenge of our era demands multilateral and international dialogue. In response to these issues, the Robert Bosch Academy organized the first Richard von Weizsäcker Forum dedicated to the topic “Germany and the Refugee Story,” which took place from 4 to 9 September with 25 former, current, and future Richard von Weizsäcker Fellows.

The forum provided the international opinion leaders and decision makers with insights into the current situation in Germany, both in terms of migration and defense policy as well as in terms of integrating refugees and enabling their participation in society and the labor market. In turn, the Fellows enriched discussions with German interlocutors with their own expertise and views. Fellows had the opportunity to discuss current integration challenges with leading politicians and representatives of the media, private sector, and relevant civil society institutions in Berlin, Bautzen, Dresden, Cologne and Stuttgart. In order to shed light on the political dimension of the discussion on refugees, Fellows engaged in dialogue with political figures such as Henriette Reker (Mayor of Cologne), Armin Laschet (Deputy Federal Chairman of the Christian Democrats and Chairman of the Robert Bosch Expert Commission to Consider a Realignment of Refugee Policy), Stanislaw Tillich (Minister President of Saxony), Peter Altmaier (Chief of the German Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs), and Gregor Gysi (Member of the German Bundestag and former Chair of the parliamentary group “Die Linke”). The Fellows also met with representatives of social organizations and initiatives that have shown an extraordinary level of involvement in integrating refugees. These included the director and founder of the Spreehotel in Bautzen, who transformed a four-star hotel into a home for refugees. In Cologne, Fellows were highly impressed by the work carried out by the organization “Rheinflanke,” which uses sports to promote integration. They discussed the issue of labor market integration with the family-owned business Lapp Kabel in Stuttgart, which has played a leading role in integrating refugees.

The Richard von Weizsäcker Forum will be continued in the future, focusing on current social and political issues. The forum provides Fellows with the chance to deepen their expertise, engage in dialogue, and strengthen the community of Fellows at the Robert Bosch Academy.

Panel on Socio-Economic Inclusion
Panel on Security
Panel on Integration