Migration per se, should not be seen in a predominantly negative light
“Migration per se, should not be seen in a predominantly negative light. Even from abroad, migrated nationals contribute to the improvement of the society back home”
Antonio POLOSA, Chief of IOM Mission in Moldova
Antonio Polosa started officially his assignment as Chief of the Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Republic of Moldova on January, 26 2012. Before being appointed to Moldova, Antonio Polosa served as Chief of IOM Mission in Norway and Ghana. A national of Italy, Mr. Polosa previously worked for IOM and UNHCR in Mozambique. Antonio Polosa holds a Doctor’s Degree in Political Sciences with International Relations/Developing Countries Economics as main subject from the University of Catania, Italy, and further specialization in forced migration at the University of Oxford, UK.
Mr. Polosa speaks English, French and Portuguese. His native language is Italian.
Question: Dear Mr Polosa, first of all, let us welcome you in the Republic of Moldova, as you have been relatively recently appointed as a new Chief of IOM Moldova. What are your first impressions as regards the country and the people, and, no less important, what are your professional expectations from the new appointment?
Antonio Polosa: Thank you for kind welcoming us in the Republic of Moldova!
Despite the various challenges faced in socio-economic as well as other areas, nevertheless it seems to me that the country has made overall undeniable progress in the past years. The structural gaps between urban and rural Moldova, for what I could observe so far, are still quite large and will need to be addressed more consistently. In general, I find the people of Moldova hard working and willing to make the necessary efforts to improve further the condition of their country. They are also very welcoming and I am really glad to be here. I have no doubt that it will be a rewarding and exciting experience for me both as a professional as well as an individual willing to learn more about a new place of appointment.
Question: During the last twenty years Moldova confronts with the problem of mass exodus of the „human capital” that, directly or indirectly, has an impact on all the dimensions of the life of the Moldovan society. What is your opinion on the key characteristics of the migration processes in our country? Could you make a prediction on the evolution and trajectories of the migration processes in Moldova in the short – term perspective?
Antonio Polosa: Of course great numbers of migrating nationals in relatively short period can have a negative impact in different dimensions and aspect of the Moldovan society. Nevertheless, migration per se, should not be seen in a predominantly negative light. Even from abroad, migrated nationals contribute to the improvement of the society back home. Remittances are indeed one aspects of such contribution but the flows of new ideas, learned skills/experience also bring an even more strategic contribution to the development of the country.
It is difficult to make even short–term predictions on the evolution and trajectories of the migration processes, given that there are many variables which determine the migration as push or pull factors. I will give it a try – working on the basis of a few assumptions: Moldova is getting nearer to obtaining a visa-free travel regime to EU for it citizens; although it will take a while before this happens, we believe that this will inevitable happen in the time-span of a couple of years. This will lead in the first phase to an initial surge of irregular overstayers in EU, most of them young people misunderstanding the essence of the short term visa free regime. Over time, this will be followed by a stabilization of the number of new Moldovan migrants to EU, and by a gradual increase of number of those who work legally in EU – and the decrease of number of those who enter EU illegally. The strengthened human ties will help Moldovans to find jobs legally in EU, which could, once the situation on the EU MS labour market improves, lead to the migration trajectories and patterns: fewer migrants going to CIS/Russia, and a further increase of number of migrants amongst the young, urban and more educated, as well as of the women’s migration.
Question: As the return of the Moldovan migrants back home is of strategic importance, how could the people be motivated to do so, to contribute to the development of the country – i.e., through the attraction of investments, promotion of national products abroad, etc.?
Antonio Polosa: In the absence of lucrative professional/business option in the home communities, the return of migrants will no be a sustainable one. Hence the Government needs to work to improve the investment climate and ease the bureaucratic control over the businesses operation. Both foreign and local investments need to be promoted, which shall lead to job creation in rural areas. Programs fostering the productive investment of migrants’ remittances need to be advanced, leading to the needed change of the current un-sustainable economic growth paradigm, which is now based on consumption and imports.
Question: Could the Moldovans, who return to Moldova, be prosperous in their country? What would you suggest to our co-nationals who intend to return back home?
Antonio Polosa: I think they can although that will largely depend on the choices they will make and how to implement them. Good governance policies and reasonable incentives can greatly facilitate such process. To those who intend to return, besides the suggestion to plan well such return in order to maximize its successful outcome, I wish to say that as observed before with nationals from other migration oriented countries, the task of improving the general conditions of your own country rest primarily on themselves. External help to Moldova (financial or otherwise) is of course much welcome and needed but must be always as a complement to the process not a substitute. As a Ghanaian migrant returning home after more than 10 years spent abroad told me once “ultimately it is up to us if we want to make our country better than what it is”. This is very valid in Moldova too, I think.
Question: Taking into consideration general IOM mandate, as well the scale and importance of the migration processes for the Republic of Moldova, could you describe briefly the key-directions and most important programmes that are currently implemented by the IOM – Moldova?
Antonio Polosa: Being guided by the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society, IOM Moldova follows the main objective of building the capacity of the Government and civil society institutions in development of efficient migration management policies and procedures within the country. To this end, IOM Moldova’s Migration & Development program is working to maximize the positive impact of migration and facilitating linkages between migration and development through supporting Moldovan Diaspora Abroad, addressing brain-drain, fostering entrepreneurial growth and use of remittances, and supporting the EU-Moldova Mobility Partnership; assisting in voluntary return for irregular migrants and implementing programmes oriented for reintegration of returned labour migrants. The Prevention and Protection Program focuses its efforts for offering assistance and protection to victims and potential victims of trafficking and their families (including victims of domestic violence, children left behind due to migration, single mothers, stranded migrants, unaccompanied minors, etc.). The Migration Management Program is working to support the capacity of the institutional system to develop policies for efficient migration management, based on the improved data collection and analysis, as well as promotion of migrants’ rights within the country and abroad. The Facilitated Migration Program is working to facilitate regular migration through the provision technical assistance in recruitment and selection of migrant workers under fair social and economic conditions, where the rights of migrants are observed and by providing secure, reliable and cost effective services to persons requiring international migration assistance.
Question: IOM – Moldova supports and promotes successfully the concept of mainstreaming migration into development of the country. One of the areas of intervention refers to the support of the implementation of the EU-Moldova Mobility Partnership. In this regard, is the any risk of increasing of the number of Moldovan migrants if the visa free agreement between Moldova and the UE is signed?
Antonio Polosa: In my personal opinion, the longer such free visa agreement is not in place the more people can be tempted to use irregular ways to migrate or to stay outside Moldova for longer time. The free visa regime, if well handled, can work as a sort of regulating valve of migration flows. If a migrant knows that he/she can travel back and forth without too much restriction the temptation to adopt illegal alternatives will eventually diminish while they can finalize earlier their growth plans so to actually be able to return back to Moldova earlier than envisaged, possibly with IOM assistance too.
Dear Mr. Polosa, thank you very much for your availability to grant the interview for www.migratie.md portal. We wish you further success and enough creative forces in your important professional activity.