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The Balkans On War, Peace and Europe

20 pages, pdf
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 The Balkans On War, Peace and Europe


Publisher: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

Volume: 20 pages, pdf

The larger the European Union becomes, the fewer are the countries left outside its borders cherishing the hope of membership. For the Western Balkans, the question is what kind of European future lies ahead. The accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU together with the progress made by Croatia and Macedonia on the road to Brussels could serve as further encouragement to the remaining Balkan states to pursue their transformation process; political progress would be followed by an economic upswing which could have a positive impact on the employment situation and the struggle against poverty. Tensions between the ethnic communities would no longer be served up to explain domestic calamities or to justify political decisions. We are in the second decade of the 21st century, the Golden TwentyTwenties. It would be the heyday of the advocates of reform – and also the heyday of Germany and the European Union – for their foreign policy of safeguarding peace and advocacy of a sustainability-driven democratisation process has produced very visible results. A conceivable, though admittedly well-wishing scenario. But the Balkans is at a crossroads, and an equally conceivable future is as the Balkan black box: The process of rapprochement with the EU would come to a virtual standstill, and the democratic, pro-European forces would lose their backing among their electorates. Political stagnation would be followed by economic stagnation, and even economic cooperation within the region would become increasingly difficult as a result of divergent dynamics in the different territories of South-East Europe on the one hand and bureaucratic barriers and visa restrictions on the other. The greater the social and economic hardship becomes, however, the more nationalist sentiment would be whipped up by the political elites, and violent conflict would again be a realistic prospect. Germany’s and the EU’s great project to bring peace, stability, prosperity and EU accession to this formerly war-torn region would have failed.