Enhancing cooperation among the Prague Process states

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.

The online event 'Launch of the Prague Process E-Learning Platform' took place on 23 September 2021.

The event introduced the content and functionalities of the newly established e-Learning Platform, developed within the Prague Process Training Academy. The Prague Process Secretariat shared its plans concerning the development of further courses and other relevant ongoing or upcoming activities within the Training Academy and Migration Observatory. The e-Learning Platform provides educational material for independent, self-paced remote learning in English and Russian. In this way, it aims to provide the migration authorities of the Prague Process states with an overly flexible and user-friendly tool to enhance vocational training among their staff. The courses correspond to the six thematic areas of the Prague Process Action Plan.

This online event was reserved for the Prague Process participating states, representatives of international organizations and EU Agencies actively involved in the Process.

You may watch the recording in English or in Russian.

We are glad to share the new issue of the Prague Process Quarterly Review covering various developments, events, and activities of the third quarter of 2021.

Financial media often refer to specific periods that typically provide rough conditions. The historical realities of the stock market in particular talk of the ‘September Effect’ when the leading indexes perform the poorest. For the global community, not only September but the entire third quarter of 2021 was marked by the shock arising from the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Most Prague Process states voiced their concern over the anticipated migrant exodus. The decision of Albania to accept 4,000 Afghan asylum seekers on its territory stands out in this context.

Since 2013, the Maastricht University | UNU-MERIT is runninig the Migration Management Diploma Programme (MMDP).This programme is specifically designed for migration government professionals, providing a focus on theoretical knowledge, as well as practical skills such as articulation and presenting; how to write briefs, policy notes and memoranda; how to formulate evidence-based policy; and how to work in a group and deal with conflicting interests. Throughout the programme, participants will benefit from the helpful input of the core teaching team (part of UNU-MERIT | Maastricht University), visiting migration experts in the field, and guest lecturers from well-known international organisations in different country contexts.

The Prague Process Webinar ‘Demography and migration in the Prague Process region’ with Prof. Ronald Skeldon, Maastricht University and University of Sussex, took place on 30 September 2021.

The webinar focused on one of the widely recognized global processes: the decline of human populations. Rapid population growth accompanied development during the second half of the 20th century. Demographic decline or the potential for decline will underlie development over the first half of the 21st century. This webinar and the accompanying Policy Brief drew attention to some of the inherent tensions created by this process and specifically its linkages with migration, both internal and international. The webinar flagged up the overall demographic trends across the Prague Process countries, identified differences amongst them, and highlighted policy issues that would need to be addressed, particularly in terms of migration policies.

You may watch the recording in English or in Russian.