Developing security community in the Western Balkans: The role of the EU and NATO
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This article examines how external third parties, particularly international organizations, can facilitate the development of security community and international integration within post-conflict societies. Focusing on seven countries in the Western Balkan region, this study offers unique insight into how and why feelings of trust and a sense of community can be encouraged by external actors – the EU and NATO in this case – and how and if trust and community can filter down to the most local levels within post-conflict societies. Ultimately, we argue that both the EU and NATO have, primarily through membership requirements to engage in regional interaction and cooperation, significantly contributed to the development of security community among Western Balkan neighbors at the elite level. However, we also find that feelings of trust and belongingness are still very much lacking among the general population of the Western Balkan region. Such insights will further efforts to enhance conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction in the Western Balkans and elsewhere.
Keywordssecurity community Euro-Atlantic integration Western Balkans European Union (EU) North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) post-conflict resolution
We thank Robert H. Cox for his helpful comments on previous drafts of this paper; our research partners in the Western Balkans for their assistance with data collection; and the International Research and Exchanges Board and the University of Oklahoma for their financial support of this project.
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