Explaining Variations in Eastern European States' Responses to the Migrant Crisis (2013-2015)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
East Quad Lecture Theatre (University of Glasgow)
Tatiana Rizova , Government, Christopher Newport University
2015 brought Europe to the brink of the most severe refugee crisis since World War II and Yugoslavia’s wars of secession.  By the end of 2015 more than a million Syrians had sought exile in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan or had made a treacherous journey to Europe in the hope of better fortunes.  The refugee crisis exposed grave regulatory fissures in the European body politic; it also demonstrated that there are powerful domestic forces that drive government immigration policies even in a system whose members continuously strive to harmonize their norms, practices, and outcomes.  This paper analyzes differences in Eastern European governments’ responses to the refugee crisis in Europe by focusing on three cases – Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  While Bulgaria strengthened its border controls, Hungary erected a physical barrier to stem the flow of migrants many of whom were bona fide refugees from the Syrian civil war.  Economic privation with relatively high levels of unemployment reduced states’ capacity to financially sustain a migrant population with poor job prospects.  Hungary’s right-wing government framed the public debate on refugee settlement and asylum seeking in terms of cultural incompatibility of Hungarians and the migrant population.  Macedonia initially favored strict admission regulations, which were relaxed when it became clear that refugees merely sought safe passage through Macedonia to Germany or Sweden.  Moreover, the Macedonian government saw a more lenient policy on the admission of migrants as a potential benefit in its country’s bid for European Union membership.
  • Explaining variations in European state responses to the migrant crisis CES 2017.doc (135.0 kB)