What expectations did you have on the Prague Process when the idea to establish this migration dialogue was brought into life 5 years ago?
Mr. Martijn Pluim: Originally, the Prague Conference was aimed at setting the framework for all migration related cooperation among all the participating states, such as the Budapest Process, the EU dialogues with individual countries and others. And I had high expectations about that: the conclusions were very elaborate, covered all areas of migration and had been developed in close consultation with all countries. During the implementation of the first follow-up project, however, it became clear that
many states wanted a more structured dialogue and that the Prague Process, as it became called, could provide added value for the migration dialogue next to the Budapest Process.
Q: What benefits do you see in the Prague Process format for the states and practitioners to discuss and cooperate on migration issues?
Mr. Martijn Pluim: The real innovation of the Prague Process was how it put into practice the linkage between active dialogue, research and capacity building. Among others via the development of migration profiles the Prague Process has built up a unique knowledge base on migration and migration management structures and uses this information in the interest of all states. The various pilot projects, led by states, further support the exchange of good practices among states on very concrete migration matters. In this way, the process can not only bring together policy makers, but also operational staff, increasing the impact of the dialogue.
Q: What kind of Prague Process activities (seminars, workshops, study visits, trainings, NCP meetings, etc.) do you find most effective?
Mr. Martijn Pluim: It is not a question of which of these activities is most effective. What is important is that the interplay between these activities is optimised. The participating states and the secretariat need to constantly provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses not only of the individual activities but especially on how all activities are linked. And adapt the process activities when needed. As described above, the real value from the Prague Process is the combination of all the various types of activities, and it has to ensure that the results are used widely – not only within the process but also outside of the Prague Process, by migration professionals, by policy makers, etc.
Q: What does the Prague Process mean for Georgia?
Mr. Martijn Pluim: Georgia is an active participating state in the Prague Process. It is a valuable dialogue for the country with its main pilot projects on irregular and legal migration, migration and development (in particular, circular migration) and asylum and international protection. Georgia is actively involved in all pilot projects as they fully reflect its migration priorities. Another highlight is the extended migration profile on Georgia. Its participation is also valuable for other participating states and thanks to Georgia’s extensive experience in recent years for adapting its migration management structures to new requirements. Recent activities that are relevant for Georgia include workshops, study visits, and other exchange activities within the pilot projects. Georgian representatives are also active participants and valuable partners of the senior official’s and core group meetings.
Q: How do you see the Prague Process future? / What direction should the Prague Process go in the future?
Mr. Martijn Pluim: Sometimes, I feel that the Prague Process lacks a real narrative, a bit more tangible objective, which can be easily communicated to its target audience, which for me are the migration professionals in all participating states. So, while I do not think the process needs to adapt its direction – a lot of work is still outstanding – it needs to further develop the way it involves the professionals in the states, but also for example in the European Commission. And maybe it should try to be able to more quickly respond to current developments, organise ad hoc consultations on burning issues. But for that, it would need a more flexible funding base, on top of the present generous financial support from the European Commission.
Note: Part of this interview was published in the Prague Process “Quarterly Review” No.3.