A stronger EU involvement in the Balkans?

posted by Julia on 2007/11/12 23:00

[ Western Balkans and EU ]

Regularly, European think tanks and analysts advocate a stronger EU involvement in the (Western) Balkans (cf. this blog 5 June and 20 July).

The think tank European Council on Foreign Relations recently published the results of an opinion poll realised in 52 countries around the world (summary available on the EurActiv website): 35% of the respondents wished to see the international influence of the EU increase. The results also showed that the EU is appreciated as international player, including in the Western Balkans. Nevertheless, the authors (Mark Leonard and Balkan specialist Ivan Krastev) warn that "The EU must not make the mistake of confusing popularity with power" and should not act too "softly".

In his paper "Kosovo merits 'special status as part of the EU' " (pdf) (Centre for European Policy Studies), Michael Emerson argues that the status quo is no viable alternative for Kosovo, but that independence is "impossible" because of the Russian opposition. According to him, the solution should not be a unilateral declaration of independence (too destabilising), but a solution based on the Ahtisaari plan, bypassing the UN by placing the decision within the framework of EU integration: Kosovo should become a "special EU region, territory, or associated territory or state" where EU law should apply. And what about Serbia? Serbia should be offered candidate status for accepting the plan. A summary of the paper can be found on the EurActiv webpage.


01 by Julia at 2007/11/13 23:12 Bitte registrieren und/oder loggen Sie ein, um zu antworten
Yesterday, I found by chance a blog entry on the ZEIT Kosmoblog on the role of the EU and the Balkans, quoting a paper by Ivan Krastev (pdf) (June 2006). Krastev criticises the EU which did not offer a viable solution (EU membership) to the Western Balkans, as the enlargement discussion is mainly concerned with the costs of enlargement. The "costs of non-enlargement" are never discussed, but are much higher, argues Krastev: non-enlargement will lead to a neo-colonial, "imperial" EU presence in the Balkans.

"Any failure of the EU to bring stability and development to the Balkans will not simply increase the import of immigrants and criminality in the member states but will de-legitimize the Europe project. It is in the Balkans that the EU should either demonstrate that its transformative power can work in regions where states are weak and societies are divided or it will sink into irrelevance. Because of the scale and the nature of its involvement the Balkans is the make-or-break test for the union. The EU can survive the premature death of its constitution but the EU cannot survive a new Srebrenica." (Krastev)


This weblog is a forum for discussion on the political and social processes linked to EU integration in the Western Balkans. We would also like to use this space to create a virtual network of researchers on this topic. You are most welcome to contribute to this weblog with comments, postings, links, or photos. Please use the "add comment" function at the end of each posting!
All photos by the Photo Arts Collective of Kosovo. First photo by Burim Myftiu (Swimming olympiade in Klina). Second photo by Mimoza. Third photo by Dashmir Izairi.
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