It illustrates well how the Western Balkans have for long seen large labour movements, refugees or internally displaced occasioned by cruel internal wars, and those who have sought to improve their lives. Offering asylum to refugees fleeing violence may further shut the door to economic migrants from the “safe countries” of the Western Balkans. And Tim, which are the comments that are giving you concern? Cheering people to risk their lives with the sort of character who we’d normally associate with trafficking women, too. To some extent, history is repeating itself in Austria as refugees cross the border at Nickelsdorf. But few, if any, refugees wish to stay in the small, poorer countries of the Western Balkans. We already have poor and homeless, the NHS and svhools under strain with more of that to come under this government. Just as we are at Calais then, Will? If they of all countries start to break the rules when it suits them, we are going to have one heck of a fight on our hands in the EU Referendum persuading the undecideds that we should stay in. Germany has followed their rights as part of the agreement to temporarily halt it. When my parents married in the early 1950s, theirs was considered a “mixed marriage”: Russian and German; peasant stock and educated elite; refugees and economic migrants. The good weather definitely helped keep the numbers up, and I was to prove grateful for the diamond I was carrying as it provided me with some shade! As one who lived and worked in the Sarajevo mission immediately after the war, my experience tells me that refugee/ID resettlement in all its dimensions, housing, livelihoods, social/health support, reintegration of soldiers, will be a huge undertaking, and requires a comprehensive approach and careful preparation well in advance.

I meet them every time I need a plumber, electrician or taxi in the city. How long will they stay for? Coming from Western Balkans, being based in Vienna and working on immigration, I could not agree more. Incidentally, I see that the German government has now suspended the Schengen Agreement. Did you mean the ones entering the EU via the Balkans, or the ones arriving in Greece, or all of them?

Time for acceptance and respect: Trans Rights at Conference. And Austria was a continuous transit point for 250,000 Jewish refugees leaving the Soviet Union between 1973 and 1989, with tens of thousands remaining in Austria, mostly in Vienna. I agree with your general implication the rich country of Israel should take at least a million refugees that istheir humanitarian duty and they are even sharing a border with Syria! Where will they be housed? I want to extend the discussion in one direction: the lessons we can draw from the West Balkans experience of re-settling returning refugees and the internally displaced (ID). "Old Europe" has an ugly history of rejecting multiculturalism. You can read our comments policy in full here. If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to The European Union has been absorbing economic migrants long before the recent surge in refugees. I am the World Bank’s Director for the Western Balkans, and I live in Vienna, Austria, where thousands of refugees, mostly fleeing from conflict in Syria and Afghanistan, are now straggling across the border from Hungary after harrowing trips on crowded boats, uncomfortable stays in makeshift camps, cramped bus rides and long journeys on foot when all else fails. To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar. Every nook and cranny of intolerance can be transformed. My mother’s great-grandparents were economic migrants, educated German Jews who went to Chicago in the mid-nineteenth century to seek their fortune in grain futures and real estate. ALL traffic has been going to them because no other country is offering assistance. At what point does someone stop being a ‘refugee’ and becomes a ‘migrant’? Most of this growth in the Balkans was consumption driven, fueled by migrant remittances equaling as much as ten percent of national income each year, dwarfing foreign investment and aid flows. Many refugees will want to return, some will be compelled to do so.

With its aging and shrinking population, the country will need to welcome an additional 370,000 workers per year just to maintain the status quo. This partly explains Germany’s open arms to the current flow of refugees. Austria has served as an important transit point and destination for Cold War refugees in the past, including an estimated 180,000 from Hungary in 1956, 162,000 from Czechoslovakia in 1968 and 150,000 from Poland in 1981-82. I unfortunately missed Tim’s speech, but I’m told some old bearded fellow rather stole the show. I know the difference between the latter two:  refugees are pushed out of their home countries by war, persecution and a fear of death; economic migrants are pulled out of their home countries by the promise of a more prosperous life for themselves and their children. As I walk the stately streets of Vienna, I know deep in my core that the moral imperative to save human lives and give refugees asylum is sufficient.

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