Migration and integration from the perspective of the Western Balkans by Emilio Cocco

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Migration and integration from the perspective of the Western Balkans by Emilio Cocco

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Migration and integration from the perspective of the Western Balkans by Emilio Cocco

  1. 1. Migration and integration from the perspective of the Western Balkans. (Emilio Cocco) Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished colleagues, I am pleased to be here and I would like to thank our hosts. Thank you for coming to listen to my speech, although I suspect the reasons you are sitting here in this room might depend on the freshness given by the air conditioning in such a hot day. But I do hope is not the only reason and I am sure you are going to be an extremely interested audience. We have here a representation of young leaders of the civil society sector, who will probably provide some of the future political leaders of this country. The topic I am discussing today is strategic both for civil society and political sector. However, by reading newspapers and watching television one may assume that the issues of migration and citizenship still portray some ambiguous topic, which is not clear in its boundaries. Moreover, although European countries do face effects and consequences of migration everyday, no real model or easy‐made solution is available for decision makers. Given the above, my intention today is to shed some light on the issues of migration and integration as seen from the Western Balkans perspective. The reason is multifold. First, this is a region where migration is an essential part of nation‐building and identity‐making. No single nation of the area is living today where it used to be centuries ago, and this is one of the reason why the state‐borders are such a complicated question in the Balkans. Secondly, this is the only are where European Enlargement is going on: Croatia recently joined the EU and all the former Yugoslav countries plus Albania are part of the EU integration process. The outputs of this process would affect consistently the movement of people n Europe. Finally, the Balkans are at the crossroad of Europe, Middle East and the larger Mediterranean. The Adriatic Sea resembles the Baltic one for many geopolitical factors but its context is more complicated. The Balkan region is thus a transition area but also a transit area, which means it works as a stage to perform larger and more complex political games. Transnational crime and illegal migration are also part of this game. My speech will tackle three main issues. First I will sketch out some aspect of the migration phenomenon, generally speaking, clarifying its social nature and the classic ways interpret it. Secondly, I will talk of Balkan migration since IIWW till present days. Eventually, I will say a few words about the problems of integration and citizenship Migration Approaches. Migration is essentially a social phenomenon, that is to say its entails social relations and historically produced networks of people. Although the decision to migrate can be an individual one, migration cannot be reduced to a psychological matter. Also, it cannot be just quantified in terms of figures and archives for even
  2. 2. when labor migration is at stake, there are always people with their relations involved (i.e. families, friends, etc.) In spite of its similarity with other mobility forms, such as tourism, wandering, explorations, expatriations (i.e. diplomacy), migration is a specific phenomenon that involves a temporary detachment ‐ e‐migration ‐ from a socio‐cultural territorially defined environment (whose borders do not need to be official or administrative) and a temporary installment into a second environment – im‐ migration. Thus, the migrant is necessarily a “foreigner”, who comes and might one day go away (following the definition of foreigner by G. Simmel). This is why “return” migration is also part of the phenomenon, although this is a generally less spoken side. Differently, the movement of people produced by colonialism is not exactly migration for these people were moving to stay forever into a new country, a country of new foundation. On the other side groups as merchants, nomadic people, university students do resemble migrants a lot. After Second World War (IIWW) migration in Europe becomes a mass phenomenon for economic reasons. Labor migrations start to shape, socially and demographically, many European countries that were accepting thousands of guest workers from other European countries or former colonies. Not surprisingly, economic theories were the first to explain the phenomenon. Some of them stressed the “macro” level, by underlining the differences between countries in terms of GDP, technology and accumulation. Some others, where more eager to note the “micro” differences that made the rational choice of migration possible: namely wage differential or better economic conditions. Later, a new set of approaches, named the “new economics” of migration pointed out the importance of socio‐cultural factors by discussing the importance of so‐ called “other markets” than labor such as the one of security condition. Thus, in more recent times, social science acknowledged the relevance of factors like
  3. 3. family bonds, friendship, cultural fascination and so on and so forth in the making of migration. For instance, the effect of cumulative causation that explains why more people from a single place tends to move towards a second place, structuring a well defined flow, is explained by the role of pioneers. That is to say, first migrants that install and than call family members to join them. The most known model to describe migrations is the so‐called “Push and Pull” model that spells out factors of expulsion (push) from one place and factors of attraction (pull) towards another place. Push factors that make you want to leave a place can be: • Economic factors: Lack of employment, economic breakdown caused by natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, etc.), lack of food or shelter, lower standard of living • Social Factors: Lack of health care, cultural marginality, lack of educational opportunities, lack of religious tolerance. • Political Factors: Unfair legal system, political repression, war and terrorism Pull Factors—Factors that draw you to live in a place can be: • Economic Factors: Hope for better employment, better wages and more food, better shelter, hope for family to reach a higher quality of life. • Social Factors: Encouragement from family and friends already settled there, better health care, better educational opportunities, religious tolerance and cultural integration. • Political Factors: To gain protection under the law, right to vote and freedom from persecution, Safety Although the model is quite useful to describe the migration phenomenon still is not enough to predict how and where migration flows occur. To determine in advance direction and intensity of migration is not an easy task as too many factors intervene to shape the social relations involved. For instance, some factors of repulsion for a country may play a role whereas some other of rejection create invisible obstacle. Thus, there are countries that seek migrants
  4. 4. but do not receive enough of them because they are not attractive (i.e. bad weather, bad connections, difficult language, etc..), whereas countries targeted by many migrants actually reject them, although seemingly they are not doing it (i.e. bureaucratic obstacles, no policies for migrants, etc.). Balkan migrations in the decades of the cold war After the IIWW migrations from the Balkans had two main reasons. First of all they were ethnic migrations: people living in territories that changed sovereignty or political system (i.e. Communist regimes) moved out to their “mother‐countries” or safer places. (tab. 1) From the 1960s, economic reasons take the upper hand. In Yugoslavia, strong economic motives and supportive policies, made the country one of the first exporters of migrants towards Western Europe. The trend of emigration from Yugoslavia to Western Europe grew till the 1970s with a peak in 1973 (850.000 migrants to Western Europe: Germany, Austria, Switzerland mostly). In 1975‐ 1985 there is a reverse trend for the restrictive policies of hosting countries (drop to 500.000 in 1985). In 1985‐1990 a new growth for the political, social and economic deterioration of in Yugosalvia (550.000 in 1990). But if we consider family members/inactive population (countries of destination statistics) the figure reaches 1.3 million! The Conflicting representations depending on the methodology and the way the problem is approached.
  5. 5. For instance, the index called “net migration rate” is calculated on the statistics of receiving countries. Whereas the one called “net migration rate as residual” is the result of a balance between the total growth of the population and the natural balance (birth/death). Therefore, the second index is based on the statistics of the origin countries and reveal that actually more people migrated than they were actually registered. Moreover, the way people were registered (active, inactive, etc.) also varies and created differences in the representations. (tab. 2) Balkan migrations in the 1990s The phenomenon of migration from the Balkans and more precisely former Yugoslavia, takes a quite different outlook by the 1990s. First of all, because the break‐up of Yugoslavia and the occurrence of ethnic conflicts produced a number of forced migrations. (displacements, refugees, asylum seekers, etc.). Secondly, new “spontaneous” migration flows emerged and they differed a lot from the ones previously controlled by the state. Thirdly, Yugoslavia became not only an “origin” but also a “transit” country. The factors briefly outlined above, describe a substantial change in the types of migration flow from former Yugoslavia towards Europe. Particularly, a new strategic role is played by the illegal and informal networks. Moreover, the lack of reliable statistics becomes a recurrent event. Eventually, new negative stereotypes emerge, such as the term “Yugo” that once had quite positive connotation and lately becomes synonym of poor refugee, Balkan violence, etc.
  6. 6. The following tables give a statistical picture of the Balkan migration towards Western Europe after the 1990s. (Tab. 3‐4‐1bis)
  7. 7. Tab. 1bis In conclusion, one can note that: • BiH had greater losses in 1990‐1995 (almost 1 million out of 4,3 millions) partly recovered in 1995‐2000. • Albania 700.000 “losses” in the 1990s • Slovenia and Croatia have positive trends (countries of immigration in the 1990s) • Macedonia and Serbia‐Montenegro alternates positive and negative trends. So, a quite diversified picture, where the issue of displacement and refugees play a crucial role. Integration and citizenship Eventually, only a few words about integration and citizenship for time is running. I would like to point out two aspects. First, the issue of “second generation” that calls in the debate on “Ius Soli” and “Ius Sanguinis”. Although, for many years labor migration from former Yugoslavia was treated as an economic question, nowadays many former Yugoslavs live in Western Europe with their families and sons. This is a factor that eventually shapes the social picture of Western European countries in many ways. Particularly, one cannot talk anymore of gust workers but should conceive these bilingual (or trilingual) and multi‐national people as truly part of the polity. What are the duties and the rights of these people? When and how one can truly become Austrian, German, Italian or Swiss citizen? Is it enough to be born somewhere to become citizen when the European juridical systems are mostly
  8. 8. stressing the blood kinship? I personally think this is where EU should test its influence and power. Secondly, the problem of returning immigrants. Many Western European of Yugoslav descent would like to go back or at least to keep some affiliation with their country, which in some case does not exist anymore. Are these people going to be treated as true nationals or second class citizens? Or, alternatively, when diaspora is manipulated for political purposes and granted more rights – for its ethnic “purity” – than to the regular residents?. These are questions to be tackled together to reach a citizenship balance. Thank you Bibliographical references. AA.VV. Direzione generale dell’immigrazione, L’immigrazione per lavoro in Italia, evoluzione e prospettive, Roma, 2011 Bonifazi C.,Mamolo M., “Past and Current Trends of Balkan Migrations”, Espace, populations, societies, 2004/3: 519-531 Conti C., Conflitti, Migrazioni forzate e rischi ambientale nella ExJugoslavia. W.P. 2/2000, progetto strategico “Ambiente e territorio”, 2000. Koser K., International Migration, Oxford Universitty Press, Oxford, 2007 Lebhart G., Marik-Lebek S., Migration from the Balkans to Austria. Recent patterns and present impact, Directorate Population Statistics, Austria, 2009 Tamas K., Palme J., Globalizing Migration Regimes. New Challenge to transnational cooperation, Aldershot, 2006 World Bank, Migration And Remittances. Factbook 2011, Washington D.C.

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