Developing security community in the Western Balkans: The role of the EU and NATO

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Though still internationally contentious, the United States recognized Kosovo as an independent state in February 2008.

  2. 2.

    We use ‘Western Balkans’ to refer to these seven countries in accordance with the EU's use of the term. See the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled ‘The Western Balkans and European Integration’, http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/LexUriServ/site/en/com/2003/com2003_0285en01.pdf, or EurActiv.com on the enlargement policy section at www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/eu-western-balkans-relations/article-129607.

  3. 3.

    The concept of security community, which is discuss in greater detail in the body of the article, refers to the development of trust, shared values and peaceful resolution of conflict among states that interact regularly, come to identify with one another and consider violent interaction to be unthinkable (see Adler and Barnett, 1998a, 1998b).

  4. 4.

    Throughout our study we treat the EU and NATO as the distinct organizations that they are, but we also recognize that they share many programs, policies and purposes in the Western Balkans region. See their statement regarding cooperation and complementary actions at www.nato.int/issues/nato-eu/index.html.

  5. 5.

    See Almond (1994); Halpern and Kideckel (2000); Job (2002); Ramet (2002); Gallagher (2003); Kola (2003); Naimark and Case (2003); Thomas (2003); Gagnon, Jr (2004); Mesic (2004); Phillips (2004); Rogel (2004); Oliver (2005).

  6. 6.

    On the importance of communication and transaction flows, see Cioffi-Revilla et al (1987). On the negative consequences of communication and transactions (for example, nationalism), see Holsti (1980).

  7. 7.

    For more on learning and foreign policy decisions, see Gross-Stein (1994, pp. 155–83); Levy (1994, pp. 279–312). For more on socialization, see Dawson (1977); Ikenberry and Kupchan (1990, pp. 283–315).

  8. 8.

    Other studies focus specifically on international organizations as agents of socialization and teachers of norms (see Finnemore (1993, 1996); Hasenclever et al (1997); Price and Zacher (2004).

  9. 9.

    See the extensive literature by Peter Haas on epistemic communities.

  10. 10.

    While part of the Yugoslav Republic, Slovenia escaped many of the hardships of the Balkan conflicts, and is not considered part of the Western Balkans by international organizations. Albania, on the other hand, was not part of the Yugoslav Republic, but is a Western Balkan state.

  11. 11.

    See the International Crisis Group's reports on the Macedonian crisis at www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=1244&l=1.

  12. 12.

    Although some observers would argue that this is much more to do with the EU's existing political alliances and diplomacies with Greece than it is to do with a lack of concern over a potential Cypriot security community (see Brewin (2000) or Diez (2002)).

  13. 13.

    Detailed survey results from Macedonia and Serbia are available from the authors.

  14. 14.

    Discussions of this potential complication include Massari (2005); Knaus and Cox (2005).

  15. 15.

    At the time of writing, Kosovo's own relationships with the EU and NATO did not yet exist owing to its recent independence and problematic international status. However, The Economist of 14 February 2009 writes, ‘The greatest success of Kosovo has been to avert a Serb exodus. Kosovo's Serbs … are under pressure from Belgrade not to participate in any of Kosovo's institutions. Yet Serbia now has a firmly pro-European government; in the wake of Kosovo's independence, the extreme nationalist threat has evaporated, not exploded’ (Kosovo, 2009).

  16. 16.

    One example is the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which has undertaken the beginnings of cultural tourism in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and which seeks to link tourist efforts to general improvements in business privatization and structural economic reforms in the country. According to Alvin Rosembaum (2006), BiH does not currently have any kind of state-level public sector tourism ministry or promotional agency (www.usaidcca.ba/RosenbaumFeb06.pdf).

  17. 17.

    The Croatian National Tourist Board website choice of languages and available packages illustrates this to some degree: www.croatia.hr/English/Home/Naslovna.aspx.

  18. 18.

    For details see the European Union's Justice and Home Affairs website, http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/external/balkans/fsj_external_balkans_en.htm.

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Acknowledgements

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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Grillot, S., Cruise, R. & D'Erman, V. Developing security community in the Western Balkans: The role of the EU and NATO. Int Polit 47, 62–90 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1057/ip.2009.26

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Keywords

  • security community
  • Euro-Atlantic integration
  • Western Balkans
  • European Union (EU)
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • post-conflict resolution