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Research Report

The Western Balkans:: moving on

Franz-Lothar Altmann
Judy Batt
Misha Glenny
Gerald Knaus
Marcus Cox
Stefan Lehne
Jacques Rupnik
Ivan Vejvoda
Romana Vlahutin
Edited by Judy Batt
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2004
Pages: 139
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-20)
    Judy Batt

    The European Council at Thessaloniki in June 2003 reaffirmed that ‘The future of the Balkans is within the European Union’. The agenda set now is to consolidate the stabilisation of the region that finally took root with the democratisation of Serbia after the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic in the autumn of 2000, and to shift the focus on to the future – EU integration. The common declared aim of the EU and all the states of the region is to repeat the success of the post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) which acceded to EU membership in May...

  2. (pp. 21-36)
    Romana Vlahutin

    In the parliamentary elections of November 2003, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the party that had ruled Croatia under the semi-authoritarian leadership of Franjo Tudjman throughout the difficult 1990s, returned to power. Many, both home and abroad, were apprehensive that this would prevent further positive developments in the country and in the region, and wondered whether democracy in Croatia was robust enough to provide the necessary checks and balances, without outside pressure. So far, Croatia has stood the test, proving that it has changed. That was a gradual and painful process that is worth examining, not only as it is...

  3. (pp. 37-54)
    Ivan Vejvoda

    Democrats struggling against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s made an important political choice for the future of Serbia: they would use exclusively political, non-violent, peaceful, electoral means. On 24 September 2000, a historic victory against Milosevic was achieved in the presidential elections, in extremely adverse circumstances in which the whole opposition, civil society and independent media were being harassed. The result was contested by Milosevic and his acolytes; but then hundreds of thousands of people turned out onto the streets of Belgrade on 5 October to defend their victory in front of the Parliament building. These events...

  4. (pp. 55-68)
    Gerald Knaus and Marcus Cox

    Nine years after the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has overcome its most difficult peace-building challenges, and the threat of violence has disappeared from the political scene. Along the way, however, the international mission in BiH has developed into a quasi-protectorate, with extensive international powers and some strikingly illiberal tendencies.

    According to some, the secret of BiH’s success has been the resolute use of international authority, allowing democracy and the rule of law to follow along later when conditions are more favourable. This is a seductive doctrine, not least for those holding the reins of power. International...

  5. (pp. 69-86)
    Franz-Lothar Altmann

    Nine years after the Dayton peace agreement and five years after the Kumanovo arrangement the Western Balkans have reached a state of superficial political stability which at least makes it unthinkable that open conflicts between Balkan nations like those of the 1990s might again happen. This, however, does not exclude completely the possibility that remaining interethnic tensions in Kosovo and Macedonia could become inflamed again and lead to severe clashes. Besides this it is obvious that sustainable internal political stability in the region is primarily dependent on urgently needed improvement of economic and social conditions.

    The economies of the countries...

  6. (pp. 87-98)
    Misha Glenny

    It would be hard to overstate the crucial significance of Kosovo for the stability of the wider Balkan region. To be precise: the continued absence of any long-term solution to the Kosovo issue – one, moreover, that both Belgrade and Pristina can live with – threatens to do immense damage to all South-East European countries. This is especially dispiriting as the evidence mounts of progress in other key areas. The region is now overcoming many obstacles that are more formidable than those faced by other European states in transition.

    So considerable is the potential threat to what has been achieved...

  7. (pp. 99-110)
    Jacques Rupnik

    After the almost simultaneous fall of the Milosevic and Tudjman regimes in Serbia and Croatia in 2000, a reassuring narrative came to prevail both in the region and in the European Union’s approaches to it. The narrative ran something like this: after a decade dominated by the logic of war and the politics of radical ethno-nationalism, the Balkans have entered a period of stability and belated democratic transitions. Nationalist forces, trapped in the agenda of the past, are being supplanted by democratic and modernising coalitions that look forward to a European future. This pattern seemed to fit developments in Croatia,...

  8. (pp. 111-124)
    Stefan Lehne

    ‘The hour of Europe has come’. These were the proud words of Jacques Poos, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg who, as President of the Foreign Ministers’ Council, headed the European crisis management efforts at the beginning of the Yugoslav crisis in June1991. Mr Poos’s pride was understandable: European shuttle diplomacy between Ljubljana and Belgrade had just successfully ended the confrontation between the Yugoslav Army and Slovenia.

    Unfortunately, only a few weeks later, as the crisis erupted in Croatia, the hour of Europe came to an abrupt end. The following months and years, which saw a permanent deterioration of the situation,...

  9. (pp. 125-132)
    Judy Batt

    The EU does not have an ‘exit strategy’ for the Western Balkans – it has an ‘accession strategy’, as EU leaders repeatedly affirm. This strategy owes much to the experience gained from assisting the Central and East Europeans in their preparations for accession. But it cannot take for granted that that success story will repeat itself in the Western Balkans. Contributors to this volume have all pointed out that many of the challenges the region now faces are not fundamentally different from those confronted by CEE in the past decade; yet they are deeper and combine together in specific ways...