Albert Memeti

Albert Memeti

The visa liberalization for Macedonia in 2009 not only brought wide benefits but also negative criticism for the country and its citizens. On the one hand, one of the benefits is that Macedonian citizens could freely travel to EU. While, on the other hand – critics, mainly EU member states, saw an increased inflow of asylum seekers from Macedonia. Almost three years after the visa liberalization, Macedonia is facing severe criticism by international NGOs for "controlling" Roma to leave the country, as well as returning to the visa regime. The majoritarian Macedonians and the Europeans often put the blame on Roma for the negative image in front of EU, without seeing the roots of the causes for asylum as well as the benefits of integration that may arise, in the long run.

In this regard, this analysis aims to present the reasons for asylum from an economic perspective, as well as to analyze the cost and benefits of those European countries that are the recipients of the asylum seekers. In addition, this analysis interprets the “asylum issue” beyond the existing framework and provides arguments for promoting Western countries investment in the Balkans, in order not to repeat the same scenario as in the case of Bulgaria and Romania EU membership, which produced massive migration in Central-Western European states.

The global economic crisis that hit Europe in 2008 worsen the prospective for employment of minorities in the labor market across South East Europe (Bartlett & Uvalic, 2013). The expansion of the crisis change the behavior of all stakeholders - governments began to intervene in the banking system, global consumption declined, while the private sector began to fire workers. The lessons learned from the economic crisis in the past teach us that poverty, unemployment and the hostility among people increase. In this context, the labor market is the main target of the private sector, which provides interventions such as reducing wages and layoffs usually directed to specific ethnic, gender, age or religious group.

There is no doubt that discrimination of Roma exist in the education and labor market, which in large part can explain the employment gap between Roma and Non – Roma in Central and Eastern Europe. Few studies, (Kahanec, Messing, Fabo, & Brozovicova, 2012), (Kezdi & Kertesi, 2010), (O'Higgins, 2012) decompose the employment gap and conclude that discrimination has significant impact on the explanation of unemployment level among Roma. Even though, these studies confirm that the discrimination in the labor market occur, in many cases is difficult to determine and hence react in cases where it appears. Nevertheless, these attempts to establish a link between the discrimination and unemployment provide little information of the channels of discrimination in the labor market.

Therefore the primary focus of this paper is to demonstrate the patterns of discrimination in the labor market in Macedonia from an economic point of view. Particularly, through the economic models of discrimination I argue that Roma are unequally treated in the labor market, both in the private and public sector.