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The Refugee Crisis in the Mediterranean: Politics and Repercussions on Eastern Europe and the Balkans

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Comparative Politics
Contentious Politics
Migration
Qualitative Comparative Analysis
Maria Koinova
University of Warwick
Maria Koinova
University of Warwick
Senada Selo Sabic
Institute for Development and International Relations

Abstract

This paper presents an exploration of the factors, which have conditioned how the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean has impacted on the politics of states in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, specifically on the levels of acceptance and rejection. Of theoretical and empirical interest are the diverging responses to the crisis by various countries (across-case-variation) and by different elites and the larger population within the same country (within-case-variation). The paper approaches rationales from domestic and international politics. Important factors include: legacies of communism, current levels of democracy, elites in power, strength of ultranationalist parties, and abilities of the EU to exercise leverage politics towards EU integration. I hypothesize that while the legacies of communism are an underlying factor non-conducive to toleration of refugees, it becomes mitigated or exacerbated by the level of a country’s democracy and the abilities of the EU to exercise leverage towards EU integration. The presence of liberal elites in power is not a decisive factor, but the presence of ultraconservative elites is, and brings less toleration for refugees.