Symβiosis aims to provide resources, commentaries and analysis, on political, social and cultural ideas and developments affecting change and policy, original and creative, based on arguments, able to propose and debate solutions to critical issues, maintaining a broad intellectual scope and global reach that readers need to understand the choices shaping lives, and reflecting on Greece, the Balkans, Europe and the world.

 

Albanian return migration: migrants tend to return to their country of origin after all

Many migrants dream of returning to their homeland, at least when they set out. The hope of eventual return engenders courage, ‘justifies’ difficulties and hardship, and is a crucial determinant in migrants’ lives in the host country (Wiest 1979). Today, as the migratory phenomenon evolves new characteristics and melds with the broader trends of societal transformation described under the general label of ‘globalisation’, the return of migrants continues to become an integral part of the ongoing migration process (King 2000). However, emigration is still considered a one-way trip, especially when it is happening and particularly from the point of view of the destination countries; return migration remains a plan, realistic or not, of the migrants themselves, and a xenophobic wish in some host societies. We regard return migration as the invisible side of a unified duality, often underestimated or neglected in policy making, academic analysis and public discourse in the host country.

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Inflow of Migrants and Outflow of Investment: Aspects of Interdependence between Greece and the Balkans

Along with the other Southern EU member-states, Greece has moved from a country of emigration to become a migrant-receiving country. The influx of migrants occurred during the 1990s, following the dramatic events in Eastern Europe and the former USSR, with the majority of immigrants being clandestine. The bulk of the immigrant population are nationals of neighbouring Balkan states, predominantly Albanians. Coinciding with the influx of immigrants from the Balkans into Greece were flows of Greek foreign direct investment, or FDI, in the opposite direction. Both phenomena are to be understood as sides of the same coin, and reflect the search for cheap labour on the part of Greek enterprises. In this article, we examine both phenomena. We present empirical material on Balkan immigrants to Greece, focusing on the demographic, housing, employment and other characteristics of the principal immigrant community in the second largest Greek city, i.e. Albanians in Thessaloniki. And we examine Greek investment to the Balkan countries, pointing out complementarities where appropriate.

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Back and forth and in-between: Albanian return-migrants from Greece and Italy

On the basis of findings from a sample of Albanian migrants who have returned to their country of origin from Greece and Italy, we highlight that Greece attracts less skilled and less well off categories of migrants compared to Italy. However, the integration patterns tell a different story. In spite of the fact that Greece does not represent the first choice of Albanians seeking to migrate, and although those who go to Greece are not among the most qualified, nevertheless, they tend to adjust better to their host society and labour market. Furthermore, returning migrants from Greece seem to be better equipped and more likely to utilize the skills and knowledge acquired through migration compared to those returning from Italy.

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