Between “unwanted” and “desired” populations:comparing citizenship and migration policies of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey

  • Cengiz Haksöz


The concept of post-socialism evolved into an “area study” while its “era” content became mostly excluded from the discourse. This paper discusses the necessity of integrative approach in post-socialist studies to understand the phenomenon in depth. It offers a comparative study of the post-socialist period through the EU trajectories of the three neighboring states: Bulgaria (2007), Greece (1981), and Turkey (candidate since 1999). Comparative studies mostly dealt with intra-post-socialist states. State-socialist regimes’ differences from their capitalist neighbors are mentioned, but usually not included in comparative studies. I argue that by compartmentalization under the label of post-socialism, we miss the similarities that transcend state systems of capitalism and socialism. I argue that one of the fundamental similarities between former state social list countries and their “capitalist” neighbors is migration and citizenship regimes driven by nationalism and their politics of “unwanted” vs. “desired” populations. While the influx of refugees is currently at primary agenda of the EU politics, migration and refugees were also among the concerns of the post-socialist era in the 1990s. Post-socialist migrations had various motives, such as refugees from civil wars as in the case of former Yugoslavia, asylum seekers from destabilized post-socialist regions, and economically motivated emigrants. Through examples from Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, this paper analyzes the three countries' socio-political trajectories as well as migration and citizenship policies. I evaluate migration of the “co-ethnics” and citizenship policies in the three countries, and show how similar their motives are, how they are interrelated with each other, and finally with the dissolution of state-socialist regimes and the growth of the EU, how they produce similar effects. I argue that the EU could neither change nor even challenge the politics and discourse of “unwanted” vs. “desired” populations in the three states.

Keywords: Post-socialism, EU, Balkans, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, migration, citizenship.


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