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Rebuilding the Balkans - Essay Example

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Rebuilding the Balkans

Taking a look at the brief history of international intervention in the Balkan region will elucidate some of the reasons for intervention, the aims of those who intervene and the consequences of their actions, which often differed from their aspirations.
The main issue discussed in this article is the contemporary remarkable continuities in the approach of the western world towards the Balkan states, with multilateral intervention largely being driven by a desire to contain crisis and maintain the status quo in a region perceived as lying on the periphery of Europe. With the exception of Greece, it was only until the mid-1990s when the policy was prefigured earlier, have there been signs that such approach might be replaced by a qualitatively different one based on contractual engagement and a possibility of eventual integration into the European mainstream. Contrastingly, the meaning of integration for the Balkan space remains vague.
Within the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and the Stabilization and Association Process there are suggestions that it could eventually lead to EU accession and, certainly, this is the dream of many within the region. However, with the EU already facing the challenge of an unprecedented enlargement into Central Europe and the Baltic, the likelihood of this occurring within the short or even the medium term remains doubtful. Alternatives to membership have been canvassed, and European Commission President, Romano Prodi, has even floated the idea of some form of 'virtual membership' for the states of the region, but, if this is the case, will integration itself be anything less than 'virtual' (Siani-Davies 2003).
International Intervention in the Balkans
The wars in the western Balkans could be considered a laboratory for post-Cold War intervention. There have been five conflicts over the last decade: Slovenia 1991; Croatia 1991-1992; Bosnia-Hercegovina 1992-1995; Kosovo 1999; and Macedonia 2001. As a consequence of global media attention and civil society pressure, outside powers have been learning to adapt the forms of intervention to an interconnected globalised world.
Broadly speaking, it is possible to distinguish between two types of security philosophy that have guided interventions in the Balkans. One has been the traditional geo-political approach, in which security is understood as the defence of territory. The geo-political approach tends to be top-down, using diplomatic, economic and military pressure to influence political leaders and warring parties. The other approach is cosmopolitan in which security is understood as the defence of individual human beings. This approach is bottom-up; the emphasis is on respect for human rights, support for civil society, economic assistance and regional cooperation. Top-down approaches, of course, remain important, but they are shaped by bottom-up priorities.
In the context of globalization, geo-political approaches to security have perverse effects - they lead to fragmentation and instability. Indeed, it is the attachment to territory and borders that explains the disintegrative process in former Yugoslavia. By and large, the United States has tended to pursue geo-political ...Show more


This article discusses the international intervention in the Balkans that significantly impacted the rebuilding process in the region. During the years since the ending of the Bosnian war, outside intervention in the region has continued to grow, most openly in NATO's 1999 aerial bombardment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia…
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Rebuilding the Balkans essay example
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