Balkans migration should act as 'wake-up' call on EU enlargment…

January 13, 2004

Large scale migration from the Balkan countries should be tackled in the countries themselves. EU resources should be more effectively targeted to underpin their economies and social structure rather than being spent on 'grandiose' schemes.

That is the view of Professor James Pettifer, Professor and Research Associate at the Conflict Studies Research Centre, Defence Academy, UK and a leading authority on the Balkans in a paper just published today on the Migrationwatch website.

He says that Western policy is partly responsible for the current instability in the region and that the Balkans have suffered severely from the secondary effects of several EU economic policies. The crisis in agriculture, the drift to towns and the lack of employment, are crucial factors behind economic migration.

'EU aid is now essential to restore stability to the region. It should focus on re-building the traditional social structures by providing a sufficient transitional period for small scale agriculture and industry. Improvements in transport should favour this rather than be devoted to grandiose schemes. A government's success in reducing population movement should be a key factor in allocating economic aid. Furthermore, accession should be linked to effective policies to encourage their citizens to remain in their communities,' said
Professor Pettifer.

He said that there was a growing recognition that asylum and immigration to Western Europe can only be tackled if conditions in sending countries are also addressed. His paper outlines the historical and cultural background of emigration from the Balkans and suggests ways in which some of the present difficulties could be ameliorated

'Tightening restrictions in receiving countries is only half the picture. Professor Pettifer's paper is an important contribution to the debate and he provides an incisive analysis of the conditions in sending countries. While he particularly addresses the problems in the Balkans his comments are also relevant to a number of the countries who will join the EU in May this year,' said Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch.

'A number of the 10 accession countries have some of the same problems he has identified in the Balkans. As they have a total population of some 72 million - all eligible to work in the UK and claim benefits from May 1- his paper should act as a wake-up call to our Government who
are risking a massive immigration from Eastern Europe, apparently before any serious attempt to address the economic difficulties of
those countries.'

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