Enhancing cooperation among the Prague Process states

This is the last issue of the Quarterly Review in 2021. Throughout the year, the Review covered a wide range of migration policies, dynamics, events and other issues informing our migration debates. Some concerned legislative amendments that will drive and define migration in the coming years. Others covered developments and trends across the Prague Process region and their possible implications. The Review also reported important milestones of the Prague Process: events and publications, the launch of the e-learning Platform and the first steps towards the Prague Process’ new political mandate to be granted by the Ministerial Conference in October 2022.

Dear Colleagues, dear Friends,

2021 is coming to an end.

We sincerely thank you for the time, interest and dedication devoted to the Prague Process this year and hope to continue our fruitful cooperation in 2022!

In the meantime, we wish you and your families good health, peace and joy during this holiday season!

With warmest regards,

Prague Process Secretariat

For over 20 years, the international community celebrates International Migrants Day on 18 December. The day was selected to mark the anniversary of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1990. It is the day to praise the contributions made by migrants across the globe. Some of them fled conflicts, violence, war and environmental disasters. The majority, however, pursued economic goals given the lack of decent economic opportunities at home.

The Republic of Azerbaijan features substantial cross-border movements, both from and into the country. For 2018, the CIS portal reveals an influx of 2,845,679 and outflow of 2,842,773 foreigners. In 2020, these figures decreased threefold, presumably owing to COVID-19. Meanwhile, the national statistics of Azerbaijan only reflect foreigners holding permanent residence permits. In 2019, there were 2,042 immigrants and 1,654 emigrants according to the State Migration Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

On 22 November, Dushanbe hosted the 17th EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting featuring the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as the European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and EU Commissioner for International Partnerships. The Parties met to discuss the state of cooperation between the EU and the countries of Central Asia and the prospects for expanding it in the areas of trade, investment and environment, as well as common security challenges. Participants also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest, such as the evolving situation in Afghanistan.   

On 22 November 2021, the annual Prague Process Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) took place in an online format. Formally hosted by the Czech Republic in its capacity of Prague Process Chair, the SOM gathered officials from the Prague Process countries, the European Commission, the EU Council, EASO, Frontex, IOM and ICMPD. Participating states were invited to comment on the first drafts of the Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan, as well as to reflect on current migration challenges at national, regional and international levels.

This SOM represented the first of three preparatory meetings towards the fourth Prague Process Ministerial Conference in October 2022 under the Czech Presidency of the EU Council. It followed the intergovernmental consultations on the six thematic priorities organised in May-June 2021. The draft Action Plan and Ministerial Declaration reflect the ideas collected during the intergovernmental consultations in each thematic area, proposing some new actions.

The Republic of Armenia has one of the highest emigration rates in the world, amounting to nearly one-third of its population. In the past, the considerable exodus occurred by virtue of various political and socioeconomic factors in the country, but 2018 saw some positive migration dynamics owing to the change of government with the policy focus slowly shifting to repatriation. The same year the national poverty rate fell to its lowest level since 2004, with 23.5% of the population still living below the poverty line. In 2019, economic growth also reached a significant 7.6%. According to the Household Survey 2019, 95% of respondents did not intend to leave for another country. More recently, however, the COVID-19 crisis has caused a compelling welfare loss and a sharp increase in unemployment, which may affect migratory flows.

On 19-20 October 2021, ICMPD organised the sixth edition of the annual Vienna Migration Conference, Europe’s leading forum on migration. Held in a hybrid format this year’s event looked at the most important developments – such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the unfolding situations in Afghanistan and Belarus, the realities on the ground along and across key migration routes – exploring challenges, opportunities and strategies for re-imagining, and ultimately strengthening migration partnerships.

Representing an essential tool of migration policy, migration partnerships bring many benefits, but developing and maintaining them is no straightforward task. These are the six key Conference takeaways on re-approaching migrations partnerships.

Data show that trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation continues to be the most prevalent form of trafficking. Moreover, women continue to constitute the great majority of victims identified in Europe. Much fewer trafficking victims are identified in agriculture, construction, hospitality, domestic work, or begging.

The new Policy Brief 'The Role of Bias in the Identification of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings in the EU' authored by Ludmila Bogdan provides a statistical overview of the victims identified across the EU (2017-2018) and aims to assess why identification programmes struggle to identify and assist male victims and those facing exploitation outside the sex industry. The key question raised is whether identification efforts are biased towards trafficking for sexual exploitation and female victims.