EU enlargement – what is its meaning today?

2014 marks an important anniversary: it's been ten years since Western and Eastern Europe were reunited. While the earlier enlargements of the EU were first of all about expanding and consolidating the single market, and anchoring democracy in formerly authoritarian countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece, the enlargement of 2004 was a real watershed in our recent history: it healed an artificial divide and brought back together a continent torn-apart during the cold war.

Today, nationalisms in Europe, prompted by economic uncertainty, would have us all fold back...

What Will the European Elections Bring the Western Balkans?

The European elections of 22-25 May 2014 have generated unprecedented media attention inside and outside of the European Union (EU). Despite the fact that the lack of serious election campaigns in most EU countries confirms the enduring ‘second-order’ status of the European elections,’ i.e. secondary in importance to national parliamentary elections, the national and international media attention reflects the EU’s increased role in the lives of people inside and outside of its territory. This relevance is probably nowhere as big as it is in Southeastern Europe, where most countries are in...

Europe Day in Sarajevo

On Europe Day, the Bosnian capital celebrated the opening of its famous Vijećnica city hall and library, as the rebirth of a symbol of confluence between civilizations in the heart of the city. Two decades after the destruction of the Vijećnica, during the Siege of Sarajevo, the synthesis of Austrian and Moorish, nineteenth-century, architectural styles of this distinctive building, once again, colorfully represent the multicultural heritage of the city of Sarajevo. The Vijećnica has been under reconstruction from 1996 until this year, in four phases that were all financed by the European...

Regional Cooperation: A Prelude to Greater European Integration

1989 was a year of predictions. Fukuyama spoke of the “end of history,” while Samuel Huntington, in his controversial article in Foreign Affairs, posited that the world is dominated by religious and cultural conflicts or fault lines, which will determine future struggle. All these theories and predications illustrate the problem of the post-Cold War order, but offer no solutions.

In addition to the 28 countries of the European Union (EU), there are still many levels of the European integration process, such as the European Free Trade Association, in which...

Analysis of the Macedonian Presidential Elections

On 13th of April, Macedonia had its first round of the Presidential elections. The incumbent, Professor Gjorgje Ivanov, supported by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, faced three challengers: Stevo Pendarovski supported by the former communist SDSM; Iljaz Halimi from the ethnic Albanian opposition party, DPA and Zoran Popovski from the newly founded GROM. Turnout was 49%, less than in 2009 when at the first round of presidential elections it was 57%, and much less than at the last local elections last spring when turnout was 67%. The coalition partner of VMRO-DPMNE, ethnic Albanian party the...

Revisiting the Legality of Kosovo’s Independence in the Light of Crimea

The Russian President Putin and the Crimean Declaration of Independence employed the Kosovo case in attempt to defend the legality of Crimea’s secession and annexation by Russia. This analogy commences with a paradox as Russia has continuously maintained that Kosovo’s independence was in violation of international law.

Be that as it may, the recent developments in the Crimea have revitalized the debate on Kosovo’s statehood, prompting politicians and academics to re-examine its legality.

Some scholars have rightly recalled that unlike in the Crimea where no...

Montenegrin accession talk in the prism of the new negotiating rules

The enhanced negotiation framework of the EU enlargement policy towards the Western Balkan (candidates and potential candidates) countries is based on specific, so-called, seven "C" principles. The "conditionality, consolidation, and communication" principles were defined in the 2005 Enlargement strategy: consolidation of the EU commitments on enlargement; application of fair and rigorous conditionality; and better communication of the enlargement policy towards citizens, both in EU and in candidate and potential candidate countries. It is essential to foster understanding and...

Why Kosovo constitutes a legal precedent and Crimea does not (yet)

On 27 March 2014, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a non-binding resolution entitled “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine”, calling on States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, and to refrain from actions or dealings that might be interpreted as such.

By a...

EU Conditionality Curve and State Capacities in the Balkans

What do the Western Balkan countries have in common two decades after the violent ethnic conflicts that characterised the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and more than a decade into the use of enlargement conditionality? Why do they still lag behind and show resistance to substantial sectors of the Copenhagen criteria?

Most academics and practitioners working on bloody ethnic conflicts of the 1990s, ongoing ethnic-religious cleavages, and stabilization concerns, might still be tempted to identify regional stabilization and ethno-national divisions as the main problem. Indeed,...

A new approach to economic governance and growth in the Western Balkans

In its Enlargement strategy 2013-2014, the European Commission emphasised the need to address fundamentals first. Particular importance has been given to taking a new approach to the economies of the enlargement countries. In light of the global economic crisis, and in particular public dissatisfaction with the general socio-economic situation, as so visibly demonstrated by the recent protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we want to continue to support the Western Balkan countries in meeting the challenges of creating jobs, enhancing competitiveness and boosting growth.

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