Newly Adopted Skopje Declaration Paves Way for Sustainable Migration Governance in the Western Balkans

IOM Director General, António Vitorino joined Western Balkan Representatives during the Sustainable Migration Governance Ministerial Conference in Skopje. Photo: IOM

Skopje – Representatives of the Western Balkans this week committed to strengthening cooperation to address smuggling migrants and trafficking in persons, notably by increasing access to regular pathways for migrants and fostering social inclusion, by signing the Skopje Declaration at the Sustainable Governance in the Western Balkans conference.

Representatives also committed to work towards comprehensive return management to improve rights-based and process-driven return, readmission and reintegration practices and procedures.

The conference, jointly organized by the Czech Ministry of Interior, under the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the Ministry of Interior of Republic of North Macedonia and facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), brought together Western Balkans Partners, representatives of neighboring EU Member States and the European Union, international organizations and academia to identify ways to effectively manage migration in the Western Balkans.   

“The topic of sustainable migration governance is of utmost importance for Czechia and the Western Balkans. The region is still a major crossroad for arrivals to the EU and managing migration is our common responsibilities,” said Mr. Vit Rakusan, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Czechia. “Strengthening migration management, asylum and return is essential to find common solutions to the complex situation in the region.”

Acknowledging that mixed migration movements in the Western Balkans are a reality, all partners recognized the importance of addressing enduring migration management challenges and working towards solutions upholding the human rights of migrants. 

“Through the Skopje Declaration, we will be able to find solutions-oriented approaches to address migration in a humane and orderly way,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.    “IOM is committed to helping partners in the region to translate these important commitments into concerted and concrete actions.” 

Since 2015, the Western Balkans have emerged as a major transit region for migrants attempting to reach Western Europe. The migration situation in the region remains complex, testing institutional capacities. Migrants including children and families, who undertake risky journeys through in the region are vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse.  


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