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Baltic Countries: The Russian “Crisis”

  • Izabella Majcher
  • Michael Flynn
  • Mariette Grange
Chapter
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Part of the European Studies of Population book series (ESPO, volume 22)

Abstract

Immigration and asylum policies in the three Baltic countries—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—have been shaped by several, sometimes competing, forces. These include: (1) the diminishing native populations of all three countries, as out-migration to the rest of the European Union has surged since they joined, resulting in important labour needs; (2) the divisive legacy of the Soviet Union’s population policies, including forced deportations of native populations and settlement of ethnic Russians, resulting in large populations of stateless persons after the end of the Cold War; (3) growing contemporary border tensions with Russia; (4) the impact of surging xenophobia across the EU since the refugee “crisis,” which has fed anti-foreigner populist political movements across the Baltics even though the region was largely unaffected by the immigration and refugee movements that impacted other parts of Europe; and (5) the evolution of EU directives and regulations. An important consideration when assessing the growing restrictiveness of migration policies in all three Baltic countries is that these developments have occurred despite the fact that they are all located far from the “crisis” that impacted other parts of Europe. Rather, Russia is often cited as an important justification for tightening border controls. Immigration-related detention appears to have increased in the region following the transposition of EU directives into national legislation. All the Baltic countries have also adopted the maximum limit of detention of 18 months. The EU has heavily financed the expansion of the detention infrastructure in the region. Detention of unaccompanied minors, although minimal, has notably increased in Estonia and Latvia. The Baltic countries also make extensive use of euphemistic language: detainees are “accommodated” or placed in “temporary accommodation” or “registration centres.” Human rights bodies have made numerous relevant recommendations for all three countries.

Keywords

Immigration detention EU migration and asylum policies Deportation and removal Asylum seekers Arbitrary detention 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Izabella Majcher
    • 1
  • Michael Flynn
    • 1
  • Mariette Grange
    • 1
  1. 1.Global Detention ProjectGenevaSwitzerland

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