The Politics of Forced Migration in the Mediterranean: Interstate Bargaining and Issue-Linkage in Greece and Jordan (April 2017 - Sept 2018)

British AcademyResearcher: Dr Gerasimos Tsourapas
Funding: British Academy / Leverhulme Small Research Grants


This 18-month long project aims to understand how post-2011 forced displacement has affected the behavior of two key states in the region towards international actors. Greece and Jordan, both heavily affected by an influx of refugee populations, have employed these population flows in diplomatic relations. I hypothesise that forced migration has independently influenced and shaped the two states' diplomatic behaviours, enabling novel interstate bargaining strategies and issue-linkage strategies with international actors. The comparative case-study will focus on the two states' post-2011 negotiations with the European Union. It will allow for an in-depth analysis of how, and under which conditions, forced migration affects the international relations of host states, while also informing policy on states’ strategies in managing refugee inflows.


International migration has long been an under-researched area within the sub-fields of international relations. In recent years there has been increased attention on how the flow of people across borders affects relations between states (Hollifield, 2004; Betts, 2011). Greenhill (2010) demonstrates how migration and refugee flows aids in coercive diplomacy, while Adamson (2006) lays out how migration can challenge but also enhance states' core security interests. Yet research shows that migration flows neither lead to greater cooperation among states, as would be expected by liberal theories of complex interdependence, nor do they automatically lead to conflict and instability, particularly in the Mediterranean context (Talani, 2016; Fargues, 2012). What is needed, therefore, is a greater understanding of the conditions under which states achieve successful diplomatic collaboration and governance of migration flows, as well as the conditions under which state cooperation is less successful.

The aim of this project is to understand how forced displacement has influenced the diplomatic strategies of two key states in the region, Greece and Jordan, hosting the largest stocks of refugee populations within the European Union and the Arab world, respectively. Both engaged in intense bargaining with international actors on the issue over the past five years, particularly with the European Union [EU], securing a number of economic benefits - primarily emergency funding and aid concessions through the 2016 'Jordan Compact,' respectively.

Research Objectives

The project seeks to:

  • Identify the two host states' main actors involved in shaping diplomatic responses to the Syrian refugee crisis.
    1. Who were the actors shaping diplomatic responses?
    2. To what extent did new actors appear since 2011, and why?
  • Examine the "migration diplomacy" strategies that the two states undertook:
    1. What interstate bargaining tools were developed?
    2. What type of issue linkages appear salient?
  • Lay the groundwork for a larger, medium-N analysis of host states' migration diplomacy strategies in the broader Eastern Mediterranean area since 2011.