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Research Report

Regional cooperation in the Western Balkans

Milica Delevic
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2007
Pages: 110
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-10)

    Regional cooperation in the Western Balkans is an issue that has been much discussed. Nor has there been any shortage of action to match the talk. As a result, the countries of the region are today much more closely connected through various cooperation schemes than they were seven years ago. This is a success that should not be underestimated. If the present situation is compared to the one prevailing in 2000 – an annus mirabilis for the region as democratic changes took place first in Croatia and later in Serbia – there are lots of developments of which the countries...

  2. (pp. 11-30)

    Being categorised as part of the Balkans has never been a prize for which the countries of the region cared too much, as the term has always had negative connotations: once known as ‘the European part of Turkey’,² its history is associated with political violence, ethnic conflicts and the fragmentation of states. This has inhibited a sense of belonging to a particular regional community, and hence also the development of any regional strategy. Different notions and formulations – South-East Europe, the ‘South-East Europe 5’ or ‘South-East Europe 7’, or the ‘Western Balkans’ – have developed partly to avoid these negative...

  3. (pp. 31-46)

    Just as the region means different things to different people, so too expectations of regional cooperation vary among those encouraging it from the outside and those directly participating in the exercise. This is not surprising given that that the definition both of the region itself and of the necessary degree of cooperation among its countries seems to come from the outside. All too often it is a matter of ‘we pretend to be cooperating, and they pretend to be serious about integrating us in the EU’. So assessing what people in the region expect regional cooperation to achieve, and how...

  4. (pp. 47-72)

    The countries included in the region of Southeast Europe, as demonstrated in previous chapters, have been integrating into the EU at different speeds. As a result of countries ‘graduating’70 from Southeast Europe and becoming part of the EU, the region has been shrinking. Bulgaria and Romania, who joined the EU in January 2007, have already been excluded from the region, while the rest has been divided into two groups of countries: candidate countries (Croatia and FYROM) and potential candidate countries (the remaining countries). The region will be even smaller once Croatia joins the EU and will continue to shrink as...

  5. (pp. 73-96)

    When one looks at political cooperation in the region, it is obvious that levels of regular bilateral and multilateral contacts have increased, and that a need for regional cooperation is more readily recognised than before. Regional security, however, still casts a shadow over the development of the region. This relates to the Kosovo issue and to international military presence in the region, but also to the fact that the Western Balkans is extremely vulnerable to organised crime and other new security challenges that can affect the EU as well.103 Promoting security within the region but also making sure insecurity does...

  6. (pp. 97-104)

    Encouraging democracy and market reforms within the Balkan countries and promoting cooperation among them can hardly be considered an easy task. The reason is simple – in the past, all three have been scarce commodities in the region. True, this was not the case to the same extent in all countries of the region, but the fact is that the region became famous for all the bad rather than good reasons. Despite such a background, it can hardly be disputed that considerable progress has been made, both when the situation within regional countries and cooperation among them is taken into...