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Concept note of the project Civil Diplomacy on Migration

Read the concept note of the CIVPOL project financed by the International Visegrad Fund.

The Civil Diplomacy on Migration Project funded by the International Visegrad Fund aims to identify the role and actions of the V4 countries regarding the management of the migration crisis within the region, and to give recommendations for future assistance in connection with border management, humanitarian/ethnic-religious issues and legal undertakings.

The current migratory crisis poses a significant challenge towards the European Union and Europe as a whole. In this geographical and political context, the Western Balkans region has a special and significant role, as one of the main routes of the migratory movements stretching through their territories. However, this route had been quite neglected in political terms by the European Union, much more attention and resources being devoted to the Central Mediterranean route. This approach was one of the factors that triggered the crisis situation in 2015 and in early 2016.

The mixed migratory influx, comprising of masses of both asylum seekers and economic migrants reached the level calling for a political answer only in the summer of 2015. However, this response had not taken a proper regional approach until the Meeting on the Western Balkans Migration Route held on the level of the political leaders on 25 October 2015 in Brussels, and the measures set within the 17-point plan of action adopted there. The implementation of these measures, together with the cooperation with Turkey as framed by the EU-Turkey statement of March 2016, just as the enhanced border protection introduced by some of the Western Balkans states, most notably by FYROM and Serbia, have stabilized the Balkans route. The reception capacities of the Western Balkans states that were just established in the emergency situation of the crisis are still under pressure.

During the last two years, the countries of the Visegrad Group, beyond supporting and implementing decisions to assist the Western Balkans region taken on Union level, have established themselves as self-standing players with a different narrative as well. This narrative and policy puts a high emphasis on the mixed nature of the migratory flow, its potential security risks and the need for efficient border protection, balancing the humanitarian narrative prevailing the European public discourse and (to some extent) political decision making. The most tangible element of the V4 action is the continuous law enforcement assistance provided to FYROM and Serbia, as an action under state responsibility and not in the EU framework.

Our research focus on the impact of the actions of the V4 in the region, also formulating some recommendations for the future. Under the three pillars of the project (border management, humanitarian/ethnic-religious  issues, legal issues) we aim at examining to what extent has the V4 action helped the countries of the region to manage the crisis and to what extent has it complemented assistance received from the EU structures. We should also assess the reception of the V4 narrative in the region. We identify synergies between the Union action and the actions of the V4 countries and our recommendations should pave the way to enhanced V4 assistance in the region, addressing the genuine needs of the countries, facilitating and complementing the actions determined on EU level and also improving communication in the region and in Europe as a whole.