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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. The prospect of EU membership remains open to the official candidate countries (Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), as well as to the potential candidates: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

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  • 03 November 2006

    The EUISS organised its first seminar in order to enhance understanding of ESDP in the Western Balkans policy community and to exchange views on the current state of affairs within the EU as regards the constitution and the prospects for future enlargement to the Western Balkans.

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    01 November 2006

    Une fois membre de l’Union, la Roumanie occupera une place particulière au sein d’une Union élargie, entre les deux régions du continent européen qui demeurent les plus fragiles en matière de sécurité – les Balkans occidentaux et la partie européenne de la Communauté des Etats indépendants (CEI)/Nouveaux Etats indépendants (NEI).

  • 01 July 2006

    The Montenegrin referendum of 21 May was a major success for the EU. Skilful, patient and determined deployment of the EU's 'soft power' brought remarkable results: the EU's efforts overcame acute political polarisation among key players and brokered acceptable rules of the game, which stimulated exceptionally high voter turnout on the day.

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    01 July 2006

    This edition of the EUISS newsletter 'ISSues' includes articles about the Iranian constitution, the EU's soft power in the Balkans, and EU dialogue with Iran.

  • 30 June 2006

    This Task Force focussed on Montenegro after the independence referendum and relations with Serbia; domestic developments in Serbian politics especially in the light of the possibility of parliamentary elections in the autumn; and the prospects for a viable settlement of Kosovo's 'final status' this year.

  • 01 June 2006

    As a close observer of the short and unhappy history of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, I was often reminded of what I learned from watching the Czechs and Slovaks abandon their common state between 1989 and 1993. Although I had worked for several years on ‘Czechoslovak’ politics, I did not expect this federation to fail.

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    01 June 2006

    The operational progress in civilian crisis management made by the EU since 1999 has been impressive and has helped to enhance the EU's reputation as a credible security provider. However, the realisation of EU political objectives related to the strengthening of international security does not depend merely on the improvement of the EU's operational capabilities.

  • 01 May 2006

    I was in Montenegro 20-24 May over the referendum period, and in Belgrade 24-27 May to gauge reactions to the result there. The following note presents my reflections on the significance of the referendum for EU Balkans policy; on the prospects for independent Montenegro; and reactions in Belgrade.

  • 01 March 2006

    Dos acontecimientos marcarán la vida de los Balcanes en lo que queda de año. Primero, un referéndum previsto hacia los meses de mayo o junio en Montenegro, el territorio de Serbia y Montenegro que da al Mar Adriático, sobre una posible independencia, y la continuación de las negociaciones sobre el estatuto final de Kosovo. Las partes implicadas (las autoridades de Belgrado, Podgorica y Pristina) deberían ejercer la máxima contención para evitar que esos procesos degeneren en violencia.

  • 13 February 2006

    The key objective of this conference was to take forward work done under the British Presidency on a Security Sector Reform (SSR) strategy for the EU. The Austrian Presidency conference focussed on the specific SSR needs of the Western Balkans, and lessons learned in the region to date.

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    01 May 2002

    Par la résolution 1 244 du Conseil de Sécurité, pour la première fois dans l’Histoire, les Nations unies se sont vu confier au Kosovo à partir du mois de juin 1999 une mission d’un nouveau type, visant non plus simplement à maintenir la paix mais à la construire, dans toutes ses dimensions, politique, démocratique, administrative, juridique, économique…

  • 20 November 2001

    Loin d’en détruire la pertinence et la légitimité, les nouvelles menaces terroristes évidentes depuis le 11 septembre jouent comme autant de facteurs d’accélération pour la mise en œuvre d’une politique européenne de sécurité et de défense (PESD). Les raisons en sont multiples...

  • 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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