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Migrations from Yugoslavia to Germany: Migrants, emigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers

Author(s): Pavlica Branko

Journal: Medjunarodni Problemi
ISSN 0025-8555

Volume: 57;
Issue: 1-2;
Start page: 121;
Date: 2005;
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Migrations from Yugoslavia to Germany have a long tradition. There have been various economic and social causes, and in some periods even political ones for that phenomenon. Taking into consideration the historical aspect and also the contemporary migration flows, the dynamics of migrations of the Yugoslav population to Germany has the following stages in its development. The first stage had begun in late XIX century and ended with the World War I. Although the overseas migration flows prevailed, yet the German agriculture and its mine industry attracted a part of the Yugoslav population. Between the two world wars mostly "Westfahl Slovenes" and Croats and Serbs from Bosnia-Herzegovina got "temporary employed" in the Rhine-Westfahl industrial area, along with several thousand Serb-Croat-Slovene agricultural seasonal workers per year. The second stage began immediately after the Second World War when most of about 200,000 citizens from the former Yugoslavia, being mostly refugees, moved from the West European to overseas countries, but some of them stayed in Germany. Involuntary migrants and refugees, however, returned in great number from Germany to Yugoslavia. At that stage non-extradition of war criminals on the part of the West occupying powers on German territory, then disregard of West German Governments of the anti-Yugoslav activities of the part of extreme Yugoslav emigration, and different interpretation of the bilateral agreement on extradition, became the essential problem in relations between SFR Yugoslavia and FR Germany. The third stage in development of migrations commenced in early 1960s. At that time, Germany and other Western countries became prominently immigrational, while since mid-1960s till 1973 economic emigrants from Yugoslavia became more and more important in the German economic space. From 1954 to 1967 migration of Yugoslav citizens had not yet been intensive and their intention was mostly to work abroad. Illegal employment was, however, prominent at that time. Due to the normalisation of political relations, re-establishment of diplomatic relations and conclusion of bilateral agreements that legally defined employment of foreign workers, since 1968 till 1973 a great number of Yugoslavs got employed in FR Germany. The contemporary migrations from FR Yugoslavia to Germany resulted from the economic and political crisis in the former SFRY as well as from the civil wars that were waged in the Yugoslav territory. FR Germany became the most important destination country of Yugoslav migrants - workers, refugees, false asylum-seekers and political emigrants. Different categories of migrants from Yugoslavia to Germany enjoy the treatment that is in accordance with the immigration policies of the German governments as well as with the degree of development of the German-Yugoslav political and economic relations, and the degree of the established co-operation in the field of legal assistance and social welfare. Migrant workers, who have legally regulated their employment and residence status, could in the future expect to gain assistance from their mother country in getting efficient protection of their rights and interests in all stages of the migration process. Numerous migrants asylum-seekers, in spite of the proclaimed international protection, share, however, the fate resulting from the politically motivated measures and actions taken by the German authorities within the arbitrary decision-making of the right and/or abuse of the right to asylum. This is the reason why as early as in late 1994 the Government of FRG announced that it would expel foreigners from the country. The remaining refugees, or actually the so-called false asylum-seekers in FR Germany, share the fate of forced repatriation. Within this category special emphasis should be placed on the attitude of the German government to the Albanians and Roma from Kosovo. At first, the Germans treated the Albanians from Kosovo as politically persecuted persons, offering them refuge. Then they declared them (and Roma also) to be false asylum-seekers and insisted on readmission - their gradual repatriation to Kosovo. Considering both positive and negative implications of the migration process, the key issue for the citizens from Serbia and Montenegro who live in Germany remains the following: maintenance of their national identity, cherishing of their mother tongue and culture, keeping up relations with their mother country, social gathering - in various associations, clubs and organisations, education in their mother tongue, what particularly includes comprehensive additional teaching for children in Serbian, as well as better information dissemination.

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