European enlargement and the integration of the Western Balkans
Demi, Leonard Petrit
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After the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe the notions of a 'return to Europe' and a 'common European house' emerged as powerful concepts, particularly in the Western Balkans. But the Western Balkans had to walk through Purgatory on its road to Europe. A bloody war dragged on for ten years involving all the peoples of the region. But today the peoples and the governments of the Western Balkans are committed to leaving behind their past through the European integration process for Southeastern Europe. This accession procedure is long and complicated with ample scope for difficulties to arise. Considering the region's unequal capabilities, the financial burden of reconstruction and stabilization, as well as the potentially counterproductive effects of the European Union initiatives, the problems of the Western Balkans could be better solved by including all countries of the region in the same process of European enlargement. This policy might be based on the economic strength of the European Union and consider the very small economic proportions of the Western Balkans. It should give priority to economic rather than to political or civil-society incentives and give preference to European solutions over bilateral support for reform efforts or intraregional cooperation.
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