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Western Balkans

The countries of the Western Balkans are geographically surrounded by EU member states, and the EU’s general approach towards the region is characterised by stabilisation through integration.

The conflicts which blighted the region in the 1990s posed an existential challenge to the Common Security and Foreign Policy (CFSP) and in 2003, the EU went beyond its declaratory statements and launched the first ever Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission, EUPM, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and subsequently, the first military operation, Concordia, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Currently, the military operation EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Union’s largest mission to date, EULEX, in Kosovo, provide tangible illustrations of the EU’s continued commitment to ensuring peace and stability in the region. Furthermore, the objectives of the Union and the work of the High Representative are also supported by the European Union Special Representatives (EUSRs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union. In 2012, Montenegro opened the accession negotiations, followed by Serbia in 2013. In June 2018, the European Council agreed to conditionally open the accession negotiations with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in June 2019. The prospect of EU membership remains open to the potential candidates: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

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  • 01 November 2001

    The 17 November elections in Kosovo confirmed the prognosis that Ibrahim Rugova and his LDK would win. Two surprising developments that merit attention are the unexpectedly strong showing by Hashim Thaci and his party and the relatively strong participation by the Serbs

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    01 October 2001

    There is no doubt that the terrorist attacks of 11 September against America have drastically changed the international strategic order. It is not yet possible to discern the scale of this revolution, as new developments in the coming weeks may have further profound effects on the international system as a whole.

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    02 April 2001

    Once again contradictory dynamics are upsetting the fragile balance in the southern Balkans. On one side is the democratisation of Croatia but above all that of Serbia; on the other, attempts by UCK extremists to destabilise Macedonia. Yesterday’s enemy, Serbia, is becoming today’s partner, whereas yesterday’s partner, the UCK, may become a real adversary in the endeavour to maintain stability in Kosovo and the region as a whole.

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    02 March 2001

    The Kosovo crisis marked a turning point in the development of the international system, not because the West was in any way improper in freeing itself from the constraints of realpolitik and UN legitimacy, but because it demonstrated the limits of those constraints.

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    01 October 2000

    This paper attempts to evaluate the situation in South-Eastern Europe by focusing on two major sources of economic plight in the region and on the prospects for economic regeneration. One source of difficulties relates to the dissolution of former Yugoslavia. The wars in the region caused enormous pain and suffering that led to the deaths of a large number of people.

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    01 September 2000

    The recent developments in Serbia are indicative of a change in the political makeup of the country. The regime is becoming more repressive. A spate of highly publicised assassinations has sparked wider debate about the ability of the regime to maintain order. Many military officials refuse to obey orders or are switching camps, especially in Montenegro.

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    01 June 2000

    The transatlantic defence community drew divergent conclusions from NATO’s Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. Many observers asserted that the operation showed the European allies to be irremediably behind the United States in applying decisive new forms of advanced technology warfare.

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    01 June 2000

    Among the institutions which emerged during the crisis management phase in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, the so-called Balkan Contact Group turned out to be the innovation with the greatest impact on European institutional structures.

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    01 May 1998

    This Chaillot Paper is innovative on more than one count. It is a multi-authored, multinational and centripetal analysis of a very specific issue, the complexity of which deserves a multifaceted, analytical approach of this type. For some, it may even constitute an exercise in political correctness.

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    01 December 1997

    Concerned as they are by the many crises occurring on their very doorstep, the European public, politicians and analysts seem hardly to recognize other conflicts in Europe that have not happened and need not happen. Crisis prevention and peace-building have been sidelined by conflict management and peacekeeping.

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