Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Integration Process as a Tool of
Stability and Security in the Western Balkans
By Milan Jazbec
ccun.org, April 26, 2009
The state building process in the
Western Balkans has undergone three big and complex stages during the last
hundred years. Firstly, it was during and after World War I, when, from the
chaos and conflicts that accompanied the dissolution of both the Habsburg
and Ottoman Empires, new states emerged. Secondly, it was during and after
World War II, when above all the political and ideological map of the region
changed decisively. And thirdly, it was following the end of the Cold War,
when during and after the dissolution of former Yugoslavia (parallel with
the opening of the then isolated Albania) conflicts prevailed again and
dominantly marked the state building process.
one could to detect the following phases in the state building process in
the region after the end of the Cold War:
War or major conflict, leading to war;
Postconflict social reconstruction, leading to expression of integration
Implementing this ambition (with various approaches, phases, speed and
success, depending on a country in question).
There was an obviously
different security environment, created along the constant matrix of
des-integration and destruction, in all three stages, which heavily
influenced the nature of the state building process. However, the
integration process and its consequences, which produce constant and
demanding structural dynamics, have decisively marked the last stage.
Currently, there are three key elements, which compose this process, namely
integration, security and development. They present a new concept of
understanding trends in the post Cold War era, where both consuming and
contributing take place rather simultaneously. Overall, social
transformation includes on an interagency approach, and along horizontal as
well as vertical axis, numerous actors, which continue to receive, integrate
and to offer. The span of change is significant, decisive and encouraging.
The region has – most probably for the first time in its history –
a unique chance to achieve stability and security, through intensive
participation in the integration process. The 2004 EU enlargement with its
structural consequences presents a turning point in this development. We
will have an analytical look at the current situation and its prospects
through five theses.
Three major characteristics dominate the European security processes, namely
complementarity, complexity and their complicated nature, all being the
result of horizontal and vertical dynamics of interests of various actors as
well as their output.
Complementarity is seen as the dominant
feature. Lessons learned from past European history show that security could
only be achieved through complementary activities of national and
international subjects. If such an approach seemed to be primarily
theoretical only a few years ago, the latest scope of activities and
cooperation within major international organizations (the UN, NATO, the EU,
the OSCE, the Council of Europe /CoE/) illustrates the way to proceed. At
least two reasons bring these players closer on the complementarity basis.
Because of the limited pool of resources even the biggest actors cannot
withstand an increasingly higher scale of activities. Also the complex
nature of contemporary security threats and conflicts shows that it is
practically impossible for a single player to develop the whole spectrum of
mechanism for security management. Different approaches, various sets of
mechanisms and networking must be combined and joined.
derives from the presence of numerous security players on various vertical
and horizontal levels. The presence of the UN as a global security player is
accompanied by NATO, the EU, the OSCE and the CoE, which occupy different
horizontal positions on a same but lower vertical level. Proceeding down the
scale we would meet on the next level, for example, the Council of Baltic
Sea States, the Višegrad Group, the Regional Cooperation Council etc. Many
participants at various horizontal levels (global, regional, paneuropean,
subeuropean, local etc.) form a security matrix, which is the most
significant way how security as a goal could be achieved. This includes a
variety of players and strengthens a multilateral approach. The matrix as a
living model shows flexibility and offers the framework in particular for
local players to emerge and fit in.
complicated nature of these processes seems to a certain extent to be the
quite natural outcome of criss-crossing the first two characteristics.
Generally speaking, this includes above all management of the relations
a) The overlapping of NATO and
the EU members.
b) The non-Nato EU members and
c) Relations of all member
countries towards applicant/candidate countries to both organizations.
d) Relations to third countries (PfP members and
aspirants, countries with which both organizations have an institutionalized
e) The decisive role of
relations between the EU, the USA and the Russian Federation.
sometimes produces non-transparent activities and unnecessary overlapping,
which is not always easy to overcome, as well as opens maneuvering space for
non-integration interests. Such situations should be avoided as a matter of
a clear and necessary consensus on a general level, while introducing rules
of engagement on lower levels. This would be even more important to bear in
mind since European security processes form a fundamental part of the
integration process as a whole.
Second: The integration
process is the key driving force of change and progress in Europe. It
results in a broad, dynamic and complex process, where participation of
governmental, non-governmental and private sector is necessary.
This has fundamentally changed Europe and its state system, known from the
past centuries, which was a constant hostage of war ambitions of political
elites striving for military and economic dominance. Therefore, the
integration process, once it has been adopted, works to the benefit of
broader populations, improving their living conditions and expanding their
overall opportunities. In addition, it stimulates and when necessary also
forces political elites to move along different set of values and principles
of policy behaviour, namely in an open, transparent manner, with
interconnected, interdependent and bound together approach. Such a change
does not come by itself, but is a combination of the results of changing
environment and influence of public opinion, enabled and supported by the
One could also claim this is the point where the post Cold
War approach and its notion are being put to test: cooperation, trust and
transparency. Enriched with solidarity, this is the formula which not only
the EU and NATO but also other organizations try to put forward to the new
members and aspirant / candidate countries. This change is from one point of
view stimulated by the integration process and from another point of view it
effects further provision of security and stability through integration. It
is also possible to say that the change itself reflects / is being reflected
in a safer and more secure international environment, which directly results
in further development and well-being of nations and people.
accession process presents an overall structural transformation of a
country, following the acquis communitaire and focusing primarily on
structures and values. The free passage of goods, services, capital and
people as well as knowledge is a stimulus, which attracts broader
populations. Therefore, political elites have to create conditions where
such goals would be achievable. This is of primary importance in the
countries of the Western Balkans, since there is a shortage of political
programmes, which would compete for enhancing change along the integration
process and its benchmarks. Also, the EU from its side shall proceed firmly
towards the visa liberalization for the Western Balkans societies, enabling
above all the young population and business community to reach a higher
level of mobility and competitiveness in comparison with their counterparts
The efficiency of the integration process lies
also with its enlargement. For this reason the enlargement policy shall be
supported and stimulated both in the EU and in the Western Balkans. The
former has to promote it, since the enlargement process is also the
continuation of the European peace project that started right after the
World War II, and the latter has to grab the opportunity with more
enthusiasm, for the sake of all generations. This would further transform
our societies and decrease the level of uncertainty, which we live in.
Third: The Western Balkans countries are firmly bound in a network of
various integration instruments, which have a necessary potential to bring
the region deeper in the overarching integration interdependency as well as
away from historical disruption.
Currently the region is practically
part of the Stabilization and Association Agreements network, which has been
primarily accomplished during the few previous Presidencies of the EU
Council, the Slovene one in particular. Spanning from the two candidate
countries to the country at the very beginning of the whole process, the
intra-regional dynamics has reached a level, where during the next mandate
of the European Parliament a decisive break-through could be accomplished.
Both the EU and the countries of the region share a huge mutual
responsibility for this endeavour.
However, there is still a strong
need that the countries concerned definitely turn away from conflict and
reach for cooperation as well as from various forms of aggression towards
consensus building. History shall not be forgotten, but it also shall not
stimulate the regeneration of old samples of political behaviour anymore.
The most important basis of the whole Euro-Atlantic integration process,
stemming from its six decades of experience, derives from exactly this
message. One could present this finding with even more enhanced and broader
wording: the structural and substantial importance of the integration
process, which has transformed the European state system, presents the most
efficient tool for stability and security in the Western Balkans.
far as the future development of state building in the Western Balkans as a
part of its integration ambition is concerned, there is a clear need for:
- Definite, full and
complete Europeanization of the region.
Elaboration of the EU requirements supported with clear perception what this
means not only for region’s elites but in particular for its population and
Expressing of the needs of the region.
Hence, a clear, worked
out and efficient approach for each country and for the region as a whole
should be developed. Enlarging the EU and NATO, through their tools, is the
final structural goal. This goal would, after is has been achieved, turn
into a means for further development of the region as an indispensable part
of the European entity.
The security of the whole region is
continuously being enhanced, strengthened and transformed. One could follow
this principle from the provision of hard security primarily during the late
90-ties to the provision of soft security afterwards. Hard security is only
one of the elements or aspects around which flexible, creative and firm
security matrix has been developing. Security is being spread through
institution building process and progressed – to say so – along the premises
of introducing, understanding, implementing and enhancing soft security. The
integration process further cements soft security, what would mean
de-securitization of security in its traditional, Cold War approach and
meaning. This matrix is highly sensible because of its complexity and
interdependence of its elements as well as of the regional warfare
tradition, being to a large extent the result of outside interventions.
Fourth: The Western Balkans countries have to proceed along the
integration compass with more structural ambition and firm devotion. The
integration process stakeholders have to encourage them with much more
invention, belief and above all with a concrete and efficient approach.
The integration frame has been clearly set up quite long ago, although being
modified all the time. For the Western Balkan countries this perception has
been outstandingly visualized after the two previous EU enlargements, namely
in 2004 and 2007. Since then the region has been practically embraced by the
integration philosophy and its practical implications.
point of view it is obvious and known what the membership criteria are and
how to fulfill them. There are examples for this all around the region and
these experiences are being shared across the region as well. From another
point of view it is also known what the main current challenges for the
countries of the region on their way towards the EU are: the fight against
corruption and organized transnational crime, the rule of law, institution
building, local ownership, enhanced regional cooperation and full
cooperation with the ICTY, all of this regardless of the will of parts of
their political elites. If the integration ambition was initiated as an
impetus from the outside, it could plant roots also in a reflection of local
needs and aspiration.
These processes have always been a two way
street in the history of the integration: clear expectations from the
stakeholder should meet the fulfillment of asked merits and given promises
from the aspirant. This feeds the momentum of the process and its dynamics
as well as balances both the application and the expectation management.
Anyway, it still looks as if the expression of integration ambition and
implementing of this ambition harbour at different sides of the same river.
Accordingly, a more structured ambition and firm devotion would be
appreciable for a faster advancing along the integration path.
Also, more structured and convincing encouragement should come from the
integration process stakeholders in general. They should be constantly aware
that it has been the enlargement of the integration ambition, which has
strengthened Europe and brought it peace, stability and prosperity. The
current global financial crisis should not overshadow this historical
experience. Moreover, the ambition of the EU to finally go global should not
only strengthen its institutional reform, but also revitalize the
enlargement ambition. Both the EU as well as the Western Balkans deserve it.
Fifth: Slovenia has much potential to contribute to the region’s
further development decisively. It should upgrade, complement and deepen its
approach, in particular with combining economic exchange, development
cooperation and cultural-educational activities on a larger scale.
In May 2004 Slovenia, together with nine other countries, became the new
member of the EU. These five years were an opportunity to deepen structural
adaptation into integration process, which has additionally been
strengthened and proved by holding the EU Presidency in the first part of
the 2008. This has also upgraded the Slovene responsibility for the Western
Slovenia has to press for a visa liberalization system for
the countries of the Western Balkans. Citizens cannot be victims of their
political elites and their inclinations to either fulfillment or not of the
membership criteria. Social mobility, which drives the integration process,
cannot be hold back because of this. Along with this goes also keeping
Western Balkans issues high and constantly on the EU agenda. Additionally,
offering and expressing constant political support as well as lobbying
inside the EU and its member countries should contribute to better
understanding of the region within the integration, but also for better
understanding of the EU in the region. This would be the best way to
substitute both the enlargement and commitment fatigue with responsible
Moreover, various approaches should be
combined and complemented, making via facti their output much more
substantial than so far. Extensive and deep economic exchange and commercial
activities should be structurally accompanied by development cooperation
programmes as well as by focused and broad cultural-educational projects,
all of this at a much larger scale. More or less parallel multi-track
activities would gain on efficiency and synergy in both directions. Cultural
centers should be mutually established and direct cooperation among local
partners (municipalities, schools, NGOs etc.) enhanced. The role of
extensive and comprehensive public diplomacy has hardly been touched upon.
The Slovene voice is being listened to both among the member countries
and among the countries of the region discussed; therefore its role of
integration promoter has still much to gain and the understanding of the key
role of the integration process for stability and security, too.
Today the integration process is undoubtedly the key
driving force of change and progress in Europe. It consists primarily of a
cornerstone importance of the enlargements of both the EU and NATO,
supported by a variety of other integration impulses. Hence, the
Euro-Atlantic integration is a lesson learned as well as the recipe for the
Western Balkans, which takes this path, while the speed at which individual
countries move to this goal depends on the success of their reform efforts.
Integration membership ambition starts as a goal, which converts
itself, once it is achieved, into a means of providing stability, security
and development. This has been the most obvious and convincing lesson
learned from the so far enlargements and their stakeholders, Slovenia
included. It also forms the essence of the dual enlargement from 2004. The
series of enlargements of both organizations after the end of the Cold War
show that membership in NATO is gained first, while the EU one follows later
on. Experiences also explain that, generally speaking, a decade is needed
for a functional and efficient transformation that would fit within the
integration frame. But it is the moment of achieving membership, when real
business starts and when goals convert to means. Only in such a case, the
integration tool provides stability and security.
The combination of
both the EU and NATO enlargements present an opportunity for spreading and
cementing stability and security, where countries are bound in a flexible,
efficient and developing network of values and structures, enhancing and
deepening the provision of hard security with ever-growing soft security.
Diversified dynamics among here presented security players and within here
elaborated context origins from numerous relations and initiatives all
leading to the common goal, i.e. the creation of a secure and safe Europe.
The more these processes are interconnected, interdependent and
complementary, the more chances they have to become global ones.
Ljubljana, 21 April 2009
Institute for Middle-East
and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) – Ljubljana
Zijad Bećirović, M.Sc.
 Dr. Milan
Jazbec, Policy Planning Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Slovenia, and Assistant Professor at the Faculty for Social
Sciences, University of Ljubljana. The author was State Secretary at the
Slovene Ministry of Defence from December 2000 till November 2004. He has
published seven books on diplomacy, among them “The Diplomacies of New Small
States: The Case of Slovenia with some comparison from the Baltics”, Ashgate
2001, and “Diplomacy and Security in the Western Balkans”, Ifimes 2007.
Views expressed in this paper are solely of his own and do not represent
those of his employer.
The International Institute for Middle East
and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses
events in the Middle East and the Balkans. Dr Milan Jazbec,
member of the International Institute IFIMES, reflects and generalizes in
his article “The Integration Process as a Tool of Stability and Security in
the Western Balkans” the structural consequences of the 2004 EU enlargement,
with particular emphasis on the Western Balkans and its perspectives. His
article is published in its entirety.