Academic journal article Migration Letters

Integration a Few Kilometres Away from the Motherland: Albanians' Internal Migration, Settlement and Voluntary Return in Epirus and the Ionian Islands in Greece

Academic journal article Migration Letters

Integration a Few Kilometres Away from the Motherland: Albanians' Internal Migration, Settlement and Voluntary Return in Epirus and the Ionian Islands in Greece

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper focuses on the interconnection between internal migration in Greece, integration and voluntary return prospects of Albanians currently living in Epirus and the Ionian Islands. It is based on field research conducted during 2008 among immigrants who live in Ioannina, Preveza, Arta and Kerkyra. The study highlights the different types of internal trajectories that migrants had follow before settling in the neighbouring areas of Greece, just a few kilometres away from their homeland. Migrant's current economic integration and some of the socio-economic barriers they face are discussed and linked to their will to return permanently to Albania. Internal mobility is found to be a preceding step in search for integration; integration, in turn, acts as a counterbalance to both further internal movement and voluntary return prospects, at least for the next foreseeable years.

Keywords: Albanian migration, internal migration, integration, return, Epirus, the Ionian Islands, Greece.

Introduction

Southern European localities have attracted die scientific interest of many international migration scholars, as they have become migrant receiving destinations. This is also the case for Greece, a country that has received a significant wave of the Albanian exodus since 1990. Between 1991 and 2001, migrants living in the country had an enormous increase and, nowadays, they consist more than 10 per cent of the Greek population. According to recent estimates, Albanians are more than 600.000 and correspond to 60 per cent of all migrants in the 13 Greek regions (King et al., 1997; Fakiolas and King 1998; King, 2000; Labrianidis et al, 2004; ?????, 2006).

The reasons why Albanians choose Greece and their integration within different spatial contexts, from small villages to big cities, have been widely examined. The present paper offers a contribution in an issue that still remains under-covered; this has to do with the interconnection between Albanian internal migration in Greece and the decision to settle in urban areas in border regions close to motherland. The latter decision is examined in terms of the current socio-spatial integration of Albanians, and the way integration affects voluntary return intentions. Internal migration within Albania is out of the paper's scope. Comparing its primary material with previous studies in the field, the research sheds light on the differences between integration in urban and rural areas of border regions (Vullnetari, 2007).

The primary data of the study has been collected through the use of an appropriate questionnaire addressed to Albanian immigrants who live in four cities in the regions of Epirus and the Ionian Islands in Northwestern Greece, namely the cities of Ioannina, Preveza and Arta in Epirus and the city of Kerkyra on the island of Corfu. The aim of the study is:

- To link Albanians arrival in Greece with internal migration by exploring the main migrants' trajectories within the host country, thereby revealing the different spatial forms of the migratory process.

- To discuss immigrants' economic and social integration and connect assimilation in border regions with the internal routes previously followed and the voluntary return prospects.

The paper is structured as follows: at first it presents a brief theoretical inquiry on the interconnections of internal and international migration with integration and return. Next, the methodology of the field research and the basic findings concerning the selected sample's internal trajectories and economic and social profile, are outlined. Issues of integration, home ownership, return as well as similarities and differences between the sample and rural border areas are examined. Finally, a concluding section with a policy remark is presented.

Albanian immigrants in Europe and Greece: Linking internal migration to integration and voluntary return

Internal migration and integration of international migrants into the hosting economies

King et al. …

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