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Facing the Future: The Balkans to the Year 2010. ZEI Discussion Papers: 2001, C 86

Bugajski, Janusz (2001) Facing the Future: The Balkans to the Year 2010. ZEI Discussion Papers: 2001, C 86. [Discussion Paper]

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    [Introduction]: The Balkan Burden. "The Balkans" have both geographic and geopolitical significance. Geographically, it refers roughly to the region bounded by the Adriatic Sea, the southern Carpathian mountains, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Geopolitically and even geo-historically, “the Balkans” have accumulated numerous and often contradictory connotations, sometimes patronising, sometimes wistful, but often disparaging. For example, the Balkans have been described as the major crossroads between Europe and the Middle East and as a battleground between the major empires. The region has been depicted as a rich conglomerate of cultures and religions and as an ethnic and religious conflict zone. In recent years, the Balkans have been viewed as both a critical security zone and as an unstable non-European periphery. Since the Collapse of communist Europe, the "Balkans" have once again captured the headlines in the American and West European media and the attention of foreign policy makers. The concept of "Balkanisation", following the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc and the collapse of the communist Yugoslav federation, has again entered the security vocabulary. It has come to signify, much as it did at the beginning of this century, a simmering inferno of conflict and instability that no outside power can control and no local power can evidently escape. As a result, all the countries of this geographic region have been collectively framed into a geopolitical framework that no state can purportedly surmount. The pejorative "Balkan" image thus allegedly explains the often bloody "ethnic conflicts", the unreformable authoritarian regimes, the rampant criminality, the customary corruption, and the incurable economic backwardness. Ironically, it has suited two specific parties, one interested and one disinterested, to perpetuate these Balkan myths. On the one hand, the forces of nationalism, authoritarianism, and ethnic division active in parts of the region have thrived on this peculiar image of non-redemption to consolidate their positions and to try and forestall any outside interference. On the other hand, trans-Atlantic policy makers lacking sufficient strategic vision and commitment to pan-European integrity have manipulated the Balkan image to justify inaction and the assignment of South Eastern Europe to the permanent status of an outsider. It is against such powerful myth making and image generation that both the domestic reformers and foreign sympathisers have struggled to transform the Balkans and to propel the region toward the European mainstream. Their task during the past decade has been profoundly complicated by the wars within and between the Yugoslav successor states, by the repression perpetrated by Serbia’s Milosevic regime, by the collapse of the Albanian economy and the subsequent armed uprising, and by the uphill battles of all Balkan states to complete their transition from totalitarian communism to democratic capitalism. At the start of the 21st century, the time is ripe for a major reassessment of the Balkan region: for a sober analysis of the present condition and for an informed projection of alternative scenarios of development during the next decade. In this analysis and projection of Balkan instabilities and opportunities, the following states and quasi-states have been included: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, and Montenegro. Part one of this paper examines the geopolitical context in which the Balkans are located at the end of the 20th century. It therefore assesses, in Facing The Future: The Balkans To The Year 2010 turn, the international environment, the regional parameters, and specific country developments. The bulk of the analysis projects and examines three alternative scenarios for the Balkans during the next decade: regional regression, secure development, and progressive integration. The first scenario envisages a major breakdown in the region’s development, marked by accelerating domestic devolutions, spiralling regional rivalries, and growing international isolation. The second scenario depicts a minimal constructive evolution characterised by domestic stabilization, regional cooperation, and increasing international involvement. The third scenario posits a maximal constructive development for the Balkans, involving major domestic transformations, regional Synchronization, and international integration. It is in order to help promote the latter scenario that this paper is offered.

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    Item Type: Discussion Paper
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Balkanization; Balkans; conflict resolution.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Kosovo
    EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-South-Eastern Europe (Balkans)
    Countries > Albania
    EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-Central and Eastern Europe
    EU policies and themes > Treaty reform > enlargement
    Countries > Serbia/Montenegro (to June 2006)
    Countries > Yugoslavia (former)
    Countries > Romania
    Countries > Croatia
    Countries > Bulgaria
    Countries > Bosnia/Herzegovina
    Countries > Macedonia
    EU policies and themes > External relations > conflict resolution/crisis management
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > University of Bonn, Center for European Integration Studies > ZEI Discussion Papers
    Depositing User: Peter Zervakis
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2003
    Page Range: p. 71
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:14

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