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What is the importance of CITSEE in 2013: the European Year of Citizens?

CITSEE's main concern is how the dramatic series of changes that have taken place in the region over the last two decades (ranging from violent disintegration in the early 1990s, to reconstruction, then cautious reintegration) have shaped different definitions of what it means to be a citizen in these new states.

CITSEE has shown how this question affects every aspect of the lives of people in the region, ranging from residence rights, welfare, freedom to travel, study and work in different places, property rights, and opportunities for political participation.

In 2013, the European Year of Citizens the work done by CITSEE could not be more timely. With Croatia’s imminent entry to the EU, and many other former Yugoslav states involved in the accession process, it is of paramount importance to understand how citizenship policies affect not only those who live in these states (whether ‘citizens’ or not), but also those who live far away (as citizens or aliens).

One of the great contributions made by CITSEE’s international team of researchers has been to show the interconnectedness of the citizenship regimes in the new Balkan states (for example, in terms of dual citizenship and co-ethnics in neighbouring states). Though the CITSEE project has a clear regional focus, the issues it studies are of global relevance. The project has examined the ways in which visa liberalisation for those in the Balkans has had a great effect on patterns of migration throughout Europe and more widely, and led to corresponding challenges in responses to immigration and border control. The combination of legal studies and political science employed by CITSEE has provided a cogent, clear understanding of other pressing complex issues, such as social and economic exclusion according to ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender, whilst its conclusions about state formation and citizenship in the former Yugoslavia will be instructive for anyone seeking to understand similar issues faced by prospective states.

CITSEE’s rich, evaluative studies are thus of interest not only to researchers, but also to non-governmental organisations and policy-makers in the region, in EU institutions, and in other international institutions. They fill many gaps in our current knowledge and provide an enhanced body of evidence for future policy development.

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