Abstract

Several Member States of the European Union in Southeastern Europe have experienced increased pressure on their asylum systems after they joined the Union. The latest member of the European Union, Croatia, has received lower numbers of asylum-seekers than most other countries in Southeastern Europe. This article explores migrants assessments of the benefits of arriving, staying, and leaving the country and indicates the push and pull factors that generate asylum migration through the region. It is maintained that Croatia is not preferred as a transit or as a destination country by asylum-seekers. It is argued that migrants end up in Croatia due to circumstances beyond their control and become reluctant asylum-seekers who feel trapped in the country and aspire to leave. However, the tension between aspirations to continue the journey and restricted opportunities to translate this into practice seems to be the central element of the migration–asylum nexus. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with asylum-seekers in Croatia with the aim of exploring their migration trajectories, assessments, and aspirations. The article contributes to debates on asylum-seekers in Croatia by including the migrant perspective, which has been missing in studies on asylum migration in the region. It is also relevant for general debates about asylum migration in the periphery of the European asylum system.

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