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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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  • 19 May 2010

    With the objective of comparing the state of play in each of the former Yugoslav countries in relation to the process of European enlargement and to encourage a more effective international engagement in the promotion of integration of the Balkans, the Institute organised, with the support of the Foreign Policy Initiative BiH, a seminar which was held in Sarajevo from 19 to 21 May 2010.

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    24 March 2010

    A new storm is brewing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The public order created by the Dayton Agreement to end the conflict and bloodshed of the previous three years is under profound strain. Bart M.J. Szewczyk analyses the Bonn Powers - an integral part of this order - and concludes with some policy recommendations.

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    09 November 2009

    On 30 October, three elderly statesmen met to congratulate each other on the role they played in Germany’s reunification: Helmut Kohl, Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush. They all all their own reasons for doing so. The Russian President had ruled out the use of violence to keep the Soviet empire intact. He just let go and, with the fall of the Wall, the most dramatic event which closed the twentieth century, the whole Soviet empire collapsed, and in a domino effect that spread with breathtaking speed the regimes of Eastern European bloc countries were toppled one after another.

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    19 October 2009

    This book breaks new ground by providing the first comprehensive review of every ESDP operation to date. It explains how the EU institutions responsible for international crisis management have developed and functioned, reviews the civil and military resources available to the ESDP, and analyses the key partnerships between the EU and other international organisations.

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    28 June 2009

    Over the last ten years since the Zagreb Summit opened the way for Western Balkan countries to approximate to EU standards through the Stabilisation and Association Process, the spirit of regional cooperation seen at the summit has deteriorated.

    While the technical mechanisms for regional cooperation remain through initiatives such as the Regional Cooperation Council, the political dimension has all but faded completely.

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    22 June 2009

    The political conditions for opening the path towards EU integration for the countries of the Western Balkans include both full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and regional reconciliation. This paper examines the extent to which this strategy has worked, looking at questions of leadership and political will, as well as the place that EU integration takes on national agendas.

  • 20 February 2009

    On 17 February 2009, Kosovo celebrated the first anniversary of its independence. Kosovo’s first year was relatively smooth, and with the exception of a number of violent incidents in the north of the country soon after independence, the much anticipated Serbian nationalist backlash never occurred on the scale many feared.

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    01 January 2009
    By

    EULEX Kosovo is finally up and running after a long planning phase. It began operations on 9 December 2008 and has been breaking new ground for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) as the EU's largest civilian mission.

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    31 December 2008

    This account of the complex negotiation process on the final status of Kosovo analyses how the international community ended up with the very result of independence that it had most wanted to avoid at the outbreak of the crisis. It tracks the process from the initial negotiations in Vienna in 2006 to Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008.

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    28 March 2008

    The newest ESDP mission to Kosovo is a display of unity by the European Union, focused on the goal of ensuring stability grounded on the rule of law, including strict respect for minority rights, in the newly-independent state. The EU must achieve its objective while remaining a magnet for Kosovars and at the same time for the Serbs.

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    06 February 2008

    As roughly a half of the Serbian electorate and all of the EU hail the electoral victory of the Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic over his bitter rival from the Serbian Radical Party, Tomislav Nikolic, the key question for the analysts is: which Boris Tadic won the elections?

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    31 January 2008

    After the first round of the presidential election on 20 January, the prospects for Serbia’s European future look as precarious as they have ever been. Not unexpectedly, the Serbian Radical Party candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, beat incumbent President Boris Tadic by 39.96 per cent to to 35.41 per cent according to the official provisional results, which differ slightly.

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    31 January 2008

    The 2008 Serbian Elections have provoked much coverage and analysis, most of it presenting the election issue as one of a choice between the EU and Russia. The somewhat oversimplified representation of the elections has reduced the political complexities involved to ‘integration’ versus ‘isolation’. The majority win in the first round for the SRS candidate Nikolic has been interpreted by some as Serbia’s choice of nationalism over democracy, as represented by the DS candidate Tadic.

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    01 October 2007

    Over the last ten years, the EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) have pioneered EU foreign policy in countries and regions of direct interest to the Union. EUSRs are a face of the Union, enhancing its visibility, and they give it a voice, seeking to deliver a single message to local and international partners, playing an important role in EU foreign policy.

  • 01 July 2007

    In 2000 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325, Women, Peace and Security, which calls for ‘gender mainstreaming’. International organisations, governments and national militaries have become increasingly aware of the unintended gendered side-effects of peacekeeping operations.

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    01 July 2007

    Regional cooperation in the Western Balkans is an issue that has been much discussed. 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. Today the Western Balkans is an emerging region in transition, where economic development is underway and in which cooperation is increasingly seen as an obvious choice, rather than a last-resort option.

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    01 July 2007
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    At dawn on 23 June, after close to 36 hours of intensive talks, EU leaders adopted a mandate for a Reform Treaty. In the field of foreign and security policy, the text foresees the EU should have, as of 2009, a High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy. He will be supported by a European external action service. Another important innovation is the permanent structured co-operation in the field of defence.

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    01 May 2007

    In 2000 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325, Women, Peace and Security, which calls for ‘gender mainstreaming’. International organisations, governments and national militaries have become increasingly aware of the unintended gendered side-effects of peacekeeping operations, including incidents of prostitution, trafficking in women and the exploitation of local women and men in post-conflict societies.

  • 01 April 2007

    After several months of predictably fruitless ‘negotiations’ between Serbia and the Kosovar AlbaniansMartti Ahtisaari, the UN Special Envoy for Kosovo, released the text of his proposed solution for the future status of the province. It is now expected that the UN Security Council will consider the proposal and take action in April. However, much uncertainty surrounds the next steps.

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    01 February 2007

    The Dayton Peace Agreement on Bosnia successfully ended the war in late 1995. However, the price for peace was an extremely weak and dysfunctional postwar state that would probably not have survived without substantial international support over the following decade.

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