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Dr. Franjo Stiblar
Professor at the Faculty of Law,
University of Ljubljana

In the 1990s, with repeated military conflicts in the Balkans, the region proved that it had rightfully earned the title of Europe’s “powder keg.” The collapse of the former Yugoslavia and the resulting war caused significant human and material losses and destabilized the region and entire Europe. This is why the transition of the Western Balkan countries was delayed and the region lagged at least a decade behind the first wave transition countries in Central and Eastern Europe. A “black spot” has appeared in the middle of an otherwise integrated Europe.

The monograph suggests that differences in culture, economic and social development as well as demographic trends between the nations of the Western Balkans are behind the conflict. After analyzing each of them in detail, the author proposes a wide range of general principles and specific measures that could alleviate these differences and bring peace, stability and development to the region. The end goal is of course reintegration. This would mutually benefit the people of the region as well as the international community as a whole, which should remain engaged, but in a more appropriate manner.

What is the problem? Emergence of the Balkan conflict

IIn comparison with the “Velvet Revolution” division of Czechoslovakia and the slightly less friendly, but still peaceful, disintegration of the former Soviet Union, the disintegration of the former SFR Yugoslavia was not amicable and created military conflicts between the countries involved. During the 1990s, the war in the Balkans and its atrocities attracted worldwide interest. The greatest atrocities committed in Europe after the Second World War took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, for the first time in its existence, the international military intervention of NATO – later also supported by the UN – was used to prevent genocide within a country, not war between countries.

Things are slowly stabilizing, but colossal problems remain unsolved. The Western Balkans, historically known as the “powder keg” of Europe, must be stabilized and peace and cooperation must return to the region. This would bring stability to Europe as a whole and one of the global crisis points would be resolved. Apart from some countries of the former Soviet Union, the Western Balkans constitute the least developed region in Europe. The situation in the Balkans in general and the solution to the status of Kosovo currently constitute the largest international political problem in Europe, with the potential to lead to a global crisis in Islamic-Western relations. On the other hand, a successful solution to this problem in Kosovo (and to a lesser extent in Bosnia and Herzegovina) could pave the way (be a model) for resolving tensions between Muslims and Christians elsewhere in the world.

It’s the intention of this book provide proposals for solutions to the problems of the Western Balkans. The starting principle for solutions to be effective is that they must come organically (naturally) from people below and must not be imposed by political elites above. Founded on the self-determination of nations as a starting principle, they should:

  1. First, encourage intra-regional cooperation between regional entities (economic, cultural, sporting, as a basis for political and social understanding and cooperation),
  2. Second, accelerate their economic, political and social development (catching up with the developed world), and
  3. Third, as a final step, enable the inclusion of the Western Balkan countries into the EU; (Within EU borders, conflicts are non-existent or easy to resolve).

Contour of this monograph is as follows. In the first part, the general framework is defined and adopted for the emergence and origin of the conflict and its resolution from the theory and adopted for the Western Balkans. In the second part, the main causes of the conflict are analyzed one by one, with the description of past developments, the current situation and future prospects. In the third part, solutions with recommendations for concrete actions that could help resolve the conflict and bring peace, stability and growth of well-being to the region are proposed. The work concludes with literature and appendices.

The “added value of this work is in the following:

  1. This is the most current, accurate and comprehensive analysis of the current situation in the Western Balkans (transversal areas: political, economic, social; with numerous empirical data and some innovative calculations, for example on trade, on the probability of military conflict). Separate information on Montenegro and Kosovo is also included. It draws on results from international relations, political science theory as well as empirical econometric estimates carried out by the author.
  2. Using a Western Balkans model, he shows that solutions with moderate Muslims are possible in Western countries; it also shows which solutions are most appropriate.
  3. This shows why not only the EU, but also the US, should continue to play a role in the Western Balkans (a region where they can demonstrate success in their relations with Muslims) and how they should proceed. It informs about the overall intervention activities of the EU (and other stakeholders) in the Western Balkans, their positive results as well as their shortcomings.
  4. It indicates weaknesses in the coordination of interventions of actors in the Western Balkans (EU, UN, World Bank and IMF, individual countries) and shows how this coordination could be improved to improve results.
  5. It brings the inside view of a person and of people who live and work in the region and are still actively engaged in the region, but, having been educated in the West, have a good understanding of Western values, achievements and objectives of the social sciences. Regular presence or life in the region and personal contacts with academics and decision-makers in the region made it possible to obtain a more realistic assessment of the situation and to propose appropriate proposals for its improvement.
  6. It brings concrete and innovative vision-specific proposals to improve the situation in the Western Balkans, including burning issues such as the Kosovo issue, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the application of the new multilateral free trade agreement between the countries of the region, etc.
  7. It brings the perspective of the author and young intellectuals who live and work in the region and are still actively engaged in the region, but, having been educated in the West, have a good understanding of Western values, achievements and objectives of the social sciences. Regular presence in the region and personal contacts with academics and policymakers in the region helped the author to obtain a more realistic assessment of the situation and come up with appropriate proposals for its improvement.
  8. By presenting views on the Western Balkans from both sides of the Atlantic, it brings American views on the subject closer to Europe (EU) and, vice versa, European views closer to the United States. United.

Particularities of the monograph are the following,

THE entirety of the study is provided by coverage in separate chapters of history, politics, religion, rule of law and judiciary, public administration, role of external stakeholders, economics, demography, social issues, defense and military issues as well as other areas of social life (media, ecology, education, science and technology, arts and sports).

THE empirical This work provides an original and innovative estimate of the probability of a conflict in the Balkans, on the part of Muslims, of the relative weight of two candidates (Turkey and the Western Balkans) for membership in the EU, forecasts of GDP, population until 2020 and development forecasts for the region. banking, insurance and tourism until 2014, forecasts of business potential based on an estimated gravity model, empirical information on spending and military forces, specially calculated global indicators on ecology, intensity of corruption, competitiveness , transition, etc. An estimated econometric model for Montenegro is presented in the appendix with the ambition to create such models for all countries in the region and link them through export-import equations.

THE theoretical part is linked to the analysis of cultural differences as a major force (added to economic and social differences) behind the conflict. The structuralist theory of cultural change, the political theory of the causes of conflicts, the prevention and management of conflicts, the social theory of national identities are among the theoretical foundations of the diagnosis of the Western Balkans problem and at the same time the basis for the identification of measurements and instruments. for peaceful solutions and a return to development.

THE Suggested solutions includes a vision statement and nearly 100 core principles and specific solutions are proposed for practical policy actions at the end.

Ljubljana, December 12, 2007

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