Abstracts

   
    
   

  In cooperation with

The list below is compiled following the order of appearance in the conference programme.

Session 1 – Keynote Address 1

(Monday, 10:20-11:10)

Professor Ludger Kühnhardt, Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung (ZEI)/ Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI), University of Bonn, Germany
The European Union and Southeast Europe – perspectives for an unfinished agenda

Throughout its history, “deepening” and “widening” of the European Union have inherently reinforced each other. After more than a decade of crisis management and damage control on several fronts, a new potential for relaunching a deepened European Union is emerging. The outcome of the current hope for a relance européenne remains to be seen, but its very emergence provides new political space for the renewal of a parallel dynamics on the pending enlargement agenda.  The more Southeast Europe is addressing and contributing to a common European agenda – i.e. on matters of external border management, public governance or economic competitiveness – the faster Southeast Europe can connect with the current trend of a relance européenne.
The recent defreezing of the EU debate on enlargement towards the ‚Western Balkans‘ reflects the insight that only full inclusion of all Southeast European countries can be a strategic choice for the EU. However, the new discovery of a ‚Western Balkans‘ priority in EU neighborhood policies does not transform or eliminate ongoing skepticism across the EU about an early comprehensive enlargement towards all remaining Southeast European countries. The existing asymmetries among and serious shortcomings within the possible EU member states from Southeast European indicate that the process of enlargement will remain gradual, contradictory and, most likely, bumpy.
The European future of the ‚Western Balkans‘ remains indispensably linked to the ability and will of all societies and states of the ‚Western Balkans’ to project themselves as an inherent asset to a stronger European Union.  In order to advance such a sea shift in perception, Southeast Europe as a whole must do the utmost to liberate itself from the burden which is continuously reinforced by the misnomer ‚Western Balkans‘. Instead of invoking past failure or prevailing deficits, it is of the essence to reflect in more practical terms about the strategic relevance of Southeast Europe as provider of stability for the European Union. The EU and all of Southeast Europe need to urgently accelerate the implementation of the many existing strategies and fine ambitions.

Session 2 –  Keynote Address 2

(Monday, 11:30-12:20)

 Dr. William Bartlett, Senior Research Fellow, European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
The political economy of EU assistance to the Western Balkans: complementarity, coordination and competition

This lecture examines the broad scope of international assistance to the Western Balkans. While the largest donor is the EU, assistance from other external actors has a significant impact on the development and transformation of the region. Other major donors include the USA, Switzerland and Norway, bilateral EU donors such as Germany, and the “new” external actors: China, Russia, and UAE. The lecture discusses how the interaction between these disparate interests affects the unfolding of the EU accession agenda in the region. Its focus on complementarity, coordination and competition refers, from a practical point of view, to the EU Code of Conduct for development assistance, as well as the recent focus on the sector wide approach. It also references the theory of principal-agent interactions in donor assistance and the problem of multiple principals and multiple agents. In recent years, the donor landscape in the Western Balkans has been transformed by innovations in EU assistance and the changing profile and scale of international interventions. Diminishing flows of private finance and non-concessional international assistance have been only partly offset by increased flows of official development assistance. Consequently, there is an urgent need to improve the effectiveness of international assistance. Many donors are active in multiple sectors, while within sectors there are often too many donors, providing many opportunities for specialisation and rationalisation of donor effort. The analysis also revealed substantial scope to improve the matching of donor interventions to domestic priorities, especially in the sectors such as social policy, human rights and minorities, and agriculture and rural development. New and emerging donors typically have fewer conditions than traditional donors aligned to the EU enlargement process, potentially undermining the ‘transformative power’ of EU interventions. Efforts should therefore be made to involve the new donors in existing donor coordination mechanisms, and to adopt a more flexible approach to conditionality that reflects the realities of the new donor landscape.

Session 3 (Parallel panels)

Stream 1: The remaining challenges and obstacles to EU accession of the Western Balkan candidates and potential candidates for EU membership

Panel 1.1: General conceptual and theoretical issues regarding EU enlargement into the Western Balkans

(Monday, 13:30-15:10)

Chair: Marilena Koppa, Associate Professor, Panteion University

Ritsa Panagiotou, Senior Research Fellow, Centre of Planning and Economic Research
A New and Credible Enlargement Policy: Motivations and Stimulus for the Relaunch of Western Balkan EU Accession

Overcoming ten years of enlargement fatigue, lost momentum and many challenges to the Western Balkans accession process, the EU Commission announced on 6 February 2018 a new “Credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans”.  The new strategy aimed at injecting fresh momentum into EU enlargement, speeding up the homework the six countries need to do and giving a concrete framework and timeline for achieving this. What led to this renewed commitment on behalf of a hitherto hesitant EU? Clearly a major stimulus was the realisation that while the EU was looking inwards and focussing on its serious domestic problems, the geopolitical environment in the region was slowly but consistently changing – and not in the EU’s favour. Delays in the accession process had not only been linked to a slowdown and/or a reversal in the reform process, a disenchantment with the EU and a rise in populism and nationalism, but had also allowed  Russia to “fill in the vacuum” on several levels. One could argue that Russia’s resurgent presence and ambition in the region − including its aim to discourage the Western Balkan countries from pursuing EU and NATO membership − was a key factor in stimulating the EU into action. In this context, the new and credible enlargement strategy represents an acknowledgement that in light of the shift in the geopolitical balance in the region, the prospect of EU membership for the Western Balkans is ultimately an investment in the EU’s stability and its very own political, security and economic interests. To ignore this reality would be to lose the forest for the trees.

Jan Muś, Assistant Professor, Vistula University
EU enlargement and theories of European Integration. Need for critical reassessment

Lack of economic development, cultural dependency and poor political performance of the new EU member states and the candidates to membership, as well as their permanently disadvantaged towards the West position point at a need of critical reconsideration of the European integration theories. The relative success of the Western European model of integration in 1990s limited critical approach to this question. In the presentation I will endeavour to explain the phenomenon of illiberal movements across the old continent, especially on the EU peripheries by analysing dependency relationship between the Western core and the Eastern and Southern peripheries and semi-peripheries in Central Eastern Europe. With regard to the above, I will endeavour to critically reconsider classical theory of the European integration, that is based on liberal or realist approach. The proposal is based on assumption critical towards the very idea that the market forces accompanied by liberalisation of international trade are natural expression of free human will. Instead, another approach to relation between economic-, social- and political power should be reconsidered in the studies on the European integration and in particular on EU policy towards its neighbours. Subsequently, the following argumentation will be based on thesis that the classical theories of the European integration, concerning also the EU enlargement process, failed to explain peripheralization of the Central, South-Eastern Europe, and other neighbouring regions of the Western Europe.

Efstathios Fakiolas, Assistant Professor, University of the Peloponnese
The EU’s Enlargement Policy Strategy for the Western Balkans: Continuity Through Change?

On 6 February 2018, for the first time the European Commission announced, followed up as it was on the pledge of its President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union, a full-fledged ‘strategy,’ on official document, for A Credible Enlargement Perspective for and Enhanced EU Engagement with the Western Balkans. The accession process has so far driven by a twin conditionality mechanism consisting of the forces of EU membership criteria and the Europeanization of the candidate country. One problem is that the EU appears to have conflated policy with strategy, in that the ‘carrot’ of accession is concurrently employed as a ‘stick’ for enforcing stability and democracy.  Another problem, and probably of greater importance, is that while enlargement-tied reforms come out as if they are a property of EU discretional will and resolute action, they are, at the same time, required of being self-initiated, self-regulated, and self-responsible by the applicant state; that is, they must be conducted and portrayed as its ownership. The paper discusses how strategic the EU strategy is and whether it is likely to remedy the contradictory nature of these problems.

Elda Zotaj, Lecturer, Lecturer University of «Aleksander Moisiu”
A New Strategy for Western Balkan Countries! What next? Expectations and Challenges

Many initiatives for the acceleration of the integration and democratization process have been undertaken in the Balkan region by the EU but still the integration’s prospect is far away. In the beginning of February, the European Commission adopted a new strategy named “Credible Perspective of Enlargement to the Western Balkans”. Before it, the Berlin process aimed to maintain the momentum of European integration in the Western Balkans. Initially limited in time (2014-2018) and in scope, it becomes a multifaceted process with no foreseeable ending.Today Western Balkan countries are at different stages of European integration process. Croatia is an EU member state since July 2013, Montenegro and Serbia are in accession negotiations, Macedonia and Albania are candidate countries, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are still potential candidate countries. The Strategy presents the very essence of the challenges which the Western Balkans face on their European paths.For the WB6 the most pressing issue remain the realization of successful reforms in the area of rule of law, fundamental rights and good governance and to work together on reconciliation and good neighbourly relations. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the possibilities of Six Western Balkan Countries to fulfil the six flagships defined in the new strategy lunched by the European Commission. The paper will be focused on the results from the Berlin Process, its impact, achievements and challenges left behind. The analytic part of the paper will be based on the statements of EU institutions and the domestic results in the mentioned areas of WB6 countries.

Ioanna Bantouna, PhD Candidate, University of Piraeus
The principled challenge of “good-neighbourly relations” in the EU’s Balkans

Pursuit of good neighbourly relations among Europe’s Balkan States has proved to be a great challenge for the Balkan Peninsula, as manifested by the historical precedents of the Balkan wars, with the geographical region of Macedonia – now spreading between different States, partly ie. northern Greece, south-western Bulgaria and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM) – being one of the most demanding puzzles of good neighbourliness of the 21st century. Following a long way of disagreement over fYROM’s constitutional name as ‘the Republic of Macedonia’ based on alleged irredentist claims of fYROM on a similarly named region (ie. Macedonia) in Greece and the signature of the Interim Accord by Greece and fYROM, an agreement between the two parties about admission of the latter to international organizations under the provisional name ‘former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ was reached. However, ongoing negotiations for a permanent solution to the name issue have yet to be concluded, pointing out close relevance to the EU’s ‘good neighbourly relations’ principle instead of just a bilateral dispute and affecting EU’s accession policy regarding fYROM’s integration process within the EU. This paper assesses the role of the principle of ‘good-neighbourly relations’ as a basis of international and EU law and international relations as regards fYROM’s membership negotiations with EU by providing the nexus between the Macedonian name issue and the challenge of good neighbourliness in the geographical region of Macedonia, taking into account the background of neighbourly relations in the EU’s Balkans.

Session 3 (Parallel panels)

Stream 3/ Panel 3: The EU’s Structural Funds in South-East Europe:  The impact on governance

(Monday, 13:30-15:10)

Chair: Sotiris Vandoros, Lecturer, University of the Peloponnese

Panagiotis Liargovas, Professor, Academic Coordinator Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Governance, University of the Peloponnese and Spyridon Repousis, Post-Doctoral Researcher
EU structural funds and Economic Growth: the Case of Four Southeast European Countries

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of EU assistance on economic growth in the case of four Southeast European countries, Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, during the period 2000-2014. Structural Funds, as a type of foreign aid are additive to domestic savings and therefore they are expected to cause an increase in economic growth and domestic savings. Surprisingly, our empirical results do not support this hypothesis, since Structural Funds are negatively related to domestic savings. These results are consistent with the notion that foreign aid transfers can distort individual incentives, and hence hurt savings and growth, by encouraging rent-seeking as opposed to productive activities.

Manos Papazoglou, Assistant Professor, University of the Peloponnese
Assessing the political impact of the EUs Structural Funds: Challenges and shortcomings in patterns of governance drawn from Greece

Greece stands out as a distinctive case of an old member state of South-East Europe with considerable experience with regard to pursuing democratization and growth in the EU context. The paper addresses the impact of structural funds in patterns of governance. It will examine in particular how some continuing trends in Greek politics (e.g. clientelism, corruption, bureaucracy) affected the management of structural funds. Conversely, it will examine progress in promoting openness, transparency and efficiency in decision-making and policy/funding oversight as a result of rules and norms embodied in managing structural funding. The paper draws some conclusions useful for new and prospective member states from Western Balkans.

Asteris Huliaras, Professor, Jean Monnet Chair, University of the Peloponnese and Nikos Zaharis, Director of South-East European Research Centre (SEERC)
Greece and the Structural Funds (1981-2017): The Rise of the Commercial Consultants

A number of studies have analysed the presence, activities and influence of commercial consultants in Brussels were they have established themselves “as accepted European players operating on several levels of action, working for a broader range of sectoral and national clients and maintaining strong working relations with other European actors” (Lahusen 2003). However, there is very little research on the involvement of commercial consultants on EU projects at the member-state level. This paper focuses on Greece. It argues that the weaknesses of the Greek public administration left much space for commercial consultants who have started making their contribution at a very minimal level during the 80’s and have grown in the last decades to be a regular feature of outsourcing public administration tasks that would normally would have been performed by internal administration resources. A recent estimate by the Athens based think-tank DIANEOSIS claimed that more than 2,600 big and small consultancies are active in the country providing services to public bodies (ministries, government agencies, regional and local authorities) implementing EU-funded projects on several sectors, and to private companies applying for subsidies. Some of the consultancies are staffed by well-educated young people with postgraduate degrees while others are owned by “insiders” (former politicians, government advisors, high-ranking public servants etc.) that know quite well the EU jargon and can find their way through rambling administrative procedures. A few “national” consultancies have grown to become truly international with offices in foreign capitals, global networks and projects worth millions of Euros while the majority prepares small scale funding applications. All of them, combined with the staff serving at public or semi-public intermediary agencies, have created a new type of professional, the “EU affairs professional” that in some cases subsequently embarks on careers beyond the Greek borders. A crucial question is if the multiplication of these companies in the last decades has widened their role: if, they continue to operate as simply intermediate actors or they have become influential in policy-making, affecting the developmental priorities of public actors and the strategic managerial priorities of the private sector.
Lahusen, Christian. «Moving into the European orbit: Commercial consultants in the European Union.” European Union Politics 4.2 (2003): 191-218.

Sotiris Petropoulos, Assistant Professor, University of the Peloponnese
EU Structural Funds and Social Cohesion within the Greek Economic Crisis: Anti-poverty structures and the role of and impact on NGOs

For decades EU Structural Funds have been an invaluable source of funding for various types of projects across Greece. Although with mostly a developmental approach, EUSF has become a major vehicle for Greek society overcoming, or at least containing, severe issues brought up by the recent economic crisis. Among the various activities funded via the European Social Fund are the numerous anti-poverty structures organized by municipalities and operated by Greek NGOs. Through a structure/agency analytical framework the paper focuses on how the interaction between the state and representatives from the Greek Third Sector has led to a set of outcomes which are reinforcing in multiple ways the positive response towards the negative effects of the economic crisis on the Greek society. Through a series of in-depth interviews with key stakeholders the research reveals the added value of this specific use of EUSF beyond the number of meals served and medicines provided, exposing the “over and above” though neglected impact of EU funding.

Session 3 (Parallel panels)

Stream 7: Is Turkey Still a Candidate for EU Membership?

Panel 7.2: Political and Social Aspects of EU-Turkey Relations

(Monday, 13:30-15:10)

Chair: Spyridon Katsoulas, Adjunct Lecturer, University of the Peloponnese

Georgia Gleoudi, Postgraduate Student – Researcher, Uppsala University
Religion in Turkey-EU Relations: God’s Meeting Point

The paper is going to examine the role of religion as an obstacle in Turkey – EU relations and Turkey’s access to EU membership in the present and in the future. The first part is going to analyze the current developments of Islam in Turkey, its involvement in politics and public life as well as the changes in minorities’ status quo in Turkey.
The second part is going to examine the secular character of Europe, the post-secular era and the Christian cultural identity of European countries in contrast with European views regarding Islam, Turkey and religious otherness.
The purpose of this paper is to point out the trends by both sides (Turkish and European) regarding the role of religion in the bilateral relations and the attitudes toward religion and secularism.

Francesco Pisanò, Postgraduate  Student, University of Glasgow – Charles University of Prague
The sick man of Europe: The Turkey of the Third Republic between Europeanism and Neo-Ottomanism

Although it is often forgotten, Turkey is still one of the most important applicants to the EU membership. In the eyes of the European partners, the Turkey of the Third Republic was seen a valuable candidate that was taking important steps by changing penal and legislative policies in order to satisfy EU Council requirements. More than 30 years have passed and Turkey’s accession to the EU has not materialised, but much has changed. In the early 2000s, Ankara was seen as a possible role model to the other regional actors as being one of the first Muslim countries able to conciliate religion and democracy. Today, Turkey continues to struggle to find balance a secular sentiment and a more conservative, religion-driven approach. The initial strategy of the AKP (Justice and Development Party), and its leader (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) to bring Turkey into the European Union collapsed following the Arab uprisings. The increasing Islamic sentiment, the crumbling geopolitical external environment, the feeling of insecurity, and the constant perceived threat encouraged the government to restructure the national system, strengthening the executive branch. This development paved the way towards a more autocratic internal structure that can hardly be seen as suitable for a possible future European capital. The unsatisfactory respect for human rights and personal freedom present in the country coupled with the restructuring of the national establishment at the expenses of a more balanced and democratic system, made many European chancelleries hesitant to continue down the path of Turkish integration into the EU. However, this situation represents an important loss for both sides and should not be labelled as a victory for Brussels, considering the position Turkey holds in the Middle East. The risk here is the political vacuum left behind by the EU in the region can possibly be filled by antagonists of the Union such as Russia. In order to assess this situation, it is imperative to analyse the current and past Turkish National Security Strategy and assess the reasons that encouraged Turkey to pursue a path which so firmly differs from the one followed in the previous decade.

Chrystala Stergiopoulou, Trainee Researcher at the Centre for Mediterranean, Middle East and Islamic Studies (CEMMIS)
Turkey: A “special” friend or a “full” foe?

Although Turkey applied for full EU membership in 1987, still has a candidate – country status. Official accession talks began in 2005, but since 2007 negotiations stalled due to Cyprus objections along with Germany and France. Turkey seems to have a long path to walk in as its current political situation is far from basic EU principles for democracy, stability and peace. This paper aims to highlight the current political situation in Turkey during the geopolitical era which is rapidly changing in the Middle East area. As the circumstances have been changing, is Turkey a considerable candidate-country or EU should reconsider its decision and follow a different type of special relation with Turkey?  This paper firstly presents the recent war activities in which Turkey has been involved in its borderline with Syria and Iraq, as well as the invasion in Afrin, earlier this year. Secondly, is indicating the lack of democracy, mostly after the failed coup in 2016 and the massive imprisonment of professors and journalists which followed.  In addition, the paper will focus on recent German and French proposals for a “strategic or privileged partnership” instead of full membership. Turkey seems to deny such a relation and insist in negotiations for full membership. But, thinking of being realistic, any kind of close partnership would be a better solution than a full membership at the current circumstances.The research is based on international online sources, academic journals and educational websites written in Greek, English and Turkish.

Petros Violakis, Research Director at the Center for International Strategic Analyses (KEDISA)
Turkey’s Post-Candidacy Era: Erdogan’s Anachronism

The April 16th, 2017 was a milestone for Turkey. Turkish citizens were called to decide through referendum (The Guardian, 2017) whether presidential powers should be enhanced or not. President Erdogan’s campaign and rhetoric  (Asderaki et al., 2016), favouring this enhancement, brought to the fore significant reforms in Turkey, which have been initiated already from the early 2000s. President Erdogan’s rhetoric during his campaign reached unusual levels of polarisation with the EU. In one of his speeches, Erdogan noted that “Europeans won’t be able to walk their own streets safely” if they kept up their current attitude towards Turkey (Toksabay and Gumrukcu, 2017; Naftemporiki, 2017). This argument resulted to the European Commission to summon the Turkish ambassador to explain these comments (Reuters, 2017). The fact that this rhetoric is also linked with significant reforms within Turkey indicates that these comments are only the tip of the iceberg. This paper, examines Erdogan’s rhetoric and reforms, under the prism of Europeanisation theories. For the purpose of the analysis, this paper also examines whether these reforms are in line with the European values or indicate the existence of a new course related to the re-establishment of the bygone Ottoman glory which leads Turkey to a pro-Tanzimat situation where the legal system is based completely on Sharia.

Dr. Linert Lireza, Lecturer University “Aleksandër Moisiu”, Dr. Gentian Koçi Lecturer University “Aleksandër Moisiu”, and Gentiana Kraja, Associate Professor, Lecturer University “Aleksandër Moisiu”
The Force Marriage According to the Perspective of the Istanbul Convention

Forced marriage is condemned by international and European human rights law. It violates the criminal code, which is enshrined in Article 9 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. From the other side, there is a trend to criminalize forced marriage in the EU, by introducing a specific forced marriage crime according to Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence known as Istanbul Convention.This paper describes the offence of forced marriage, examines selected legislative measures taken to address it and lists promising initiatives to prevent forced marriage and support victims. It is primarily based on criminal code in four European Union (EU) Member States: France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.The article ends with the presentation of the arguments that support the criminalization of forced marriage, by taken as example Albanian case.
Marriage, Istanbul Convention, offence, criminal code, violence.

Session 4 (Parallel panels)

Stream 1: The remaining challenges and obstacles to EU accession of the Western Balkan candidates and potential candidates for EU membership

Panel 1.2: Challenges of the EU approach and accession conditions

(Monday, 15:30-17:00)

Chair: Aristotle Tziampiris, Professor and Chair of the Department of International and European Studies, University of Piraeus

Nikolaos Tzifakis, Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of the Peloponnese
The Geopolitical Turn of EU Enlargement?

The EU has been routinely portrayed as a normative power which tries to project in its external relations its own founding values, namely: peace, liberty, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is perceived as a post-Westphalian entity that privileges the shaping of its own environment through the promotion of ‘milieu goals’ over the advancement of ‘possession goals’. The paper will test the validity of this hypothesis in the case of the EU enlargement policy towards the Western Balkans. It will be argued that Brussels has recently articulated a claim in securing its own privileged ‘sphere of influence’. The paper will account for this policy turn by reference to the increase of influence of non-Western actors in the region, while it will trace its manifestation in discourses of EU decision-makers and in the wording of the new EU Enlargement strategy document for the Western Balkans.

Marilena Koppa, Associate Professor, Panteion University
The European perspective of the Western Balkans: Challenges, risks and opportunities

The European Commission presented a new Strategy on the European perspective of the Western Balkans, in early February this year. This was long overdue, given the  de facto freeze of the process for many years, with severe consequences for the region as a whole. With a resolute tone, as well as with a sense of urgency the strategy sets a clear direction for the six countries of the region, offering a credible enlargement perspective and promising enhanced EU engagement, at the political and at the financial level. This new Strategy comes at a moment when external forces (Russia, China, Turkey) make their appearance on the regional scene, while ethnonationalism and populism, a dire economic situation and the pressing problem of the migration flows make the situation even more difficult. My presentation will elaborate on the new risks and challenges for the region as a whole in a complex and unpredictable geopolitical environment, while special emphasis will be given on the bilateral questions (mainly the Kosovo issue and the name issue between Greece and FYROM) that have to be addressed in order for the region to be able to move on.

Milenko Petrovic, Jean Monnet Chair, Senior Lecturer Above the Bar, National Centre for Research on Europe, University of Canterbury
Will Montenegro and Serbia really join the EU by 2025…or not?

While the prospects for the accession of several official candidates and two potential candidates for EU membership from the Western Balkans seemed to considerably improve throughout 2017, especially after the victory of pro-EU parties and candidates in the Dutch parliamentary and French presidential elections, the latest developments in and around the EU have again sent mixed signals. Although President Junker’s announcement in his 2017 State of the Union speech that the EU can expect to enlarge with new members by 2025 further raised optimism and expectations among the Western Balkan political elites, the later adopted European Commission’s Western Balkan Enlargement Strategy and even some of Junker’s own ‘clarifications’ have considerably cooled this optimism.  The clear specification of an additional accession condition for all the Western Balkan membership candidates – a requirement that they need to solve all their ‘bilateral disputes…as a matter of urgency’ – seems to be particularly demanding and challenging for the regional political elites. While Montenegro hopes to solve its only remaining (though nearly thirty year old) dispute with Croatia over the sea border relatively soon, the second regional frontrunner for EU membership, Serbia, and all the remaining Western Balkan states have many more (and more) serious problems to resolve with their neighbours. The paper addresses this and several other major challenges that Montenegro and Serbia face on their ways to EU membership.

Eva Teqja, Associate Professor, Lecturer University “Aleksandër Moisiu” and Gentiana Kraja, Associate Professor, Lecturer University “Aleksandër Moisiu”
The difficult path of integration of the Western Balkans and the EU expectations

Tradition, the early history of Western Balkan countries and the common destiny of being part of the communist bloc, regardless of their peculiarities and similarities, a difficult and slow transition, makes the five Western Balkan countries to have no easy path to the integration. On the other hand we have the problems that bear nowadays the EU structure. The efforts of these countries towards democratic and economic development should be treated as positive processes undertaken by each of these countries in transition towards welfare and prosperity.Thus there is a necessity of concentration and deepening on issues that cast more detailed look at the history of relations between the EU and five Western Balkan countries. This paper is focused on the challenges to be overcome in achieving the standards, to understand how close or far will be the day when these countries will be integrated. The purpose of this paper is not only recognition and journey of this process but the EU assessment reports with these countries, and expectations for the future. This study aims to deepen this process through highlighting the performance of the five Western Balkan countries, the difficulties and the nature that represent each of these countries, as well as conclusions regarding the European future of the Western Balkans.
Key words: transition, integration,  region,  criteria

Session 4 (Parallel panels)

Stream 4/Panel 4:  ΕU pre-accession aid to the Western Balkans: Lessons (not) learned

(Monday, 15:30-17:00)

Chair: Panagiotis Liargovas, Professor, Academic Coordinator Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Governance, University of the Peloponnese

Dr. Islam Jusufi, Epoka University
Aid and European Agency for Reconstruction: Lessons (not) learned

Of the elements of the EU’s policy towards its periphery or towards other regions, aid provided forms an important element in evaluating the EU-third country relations. From many issues as regards the EU aid, the issue of aid effectiveness on the one hand and the aid’s coherence with the EU’s common foreign policy has dominated the EU thinking and practice. In this context, various changes have been seen in the EU policy and governance for management of the EU aid towards the western Balkan countries. The European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR), an EU agency managing the EU aid to western Balkans from 2001 to 2008, proved to be an efficient and effective agency in delivering the aid considering the EU cumbersome procedures for contracting and disbursement of the aid. However, this Agency was closed in 2008 despite its successful record. The call by the European Commission for integration of the aid management with the policy/politics within the European Commission services won over the argument for keeping the aid away from policy bodies of the EU, leading to closure of the EAR. Thus, in 2018, in the 10th anniversary of the closure of this Agency, it is important to consider lessons (not) learned from the EAR as regards the EU-Western Balkans relations. By examining the EAR, the proposed paper will seek to assess its structure and operations as well analyse the benefits of aid management by an EU technical agency, autonomous from European Commission. The paper will aim to provide a picture of the role of the EAR in the EU’s financial assistance to Western Balkans.

Charalambos Tsardanidis, Associate Professor, University of the Aegean
From the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe to the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC):
Ten years after

The creation of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe in 1999 gave the EU the opportunity to promote regional cooperation due its role in the management and the implementation of the Stability Pact, especially in the commercial, economic and human security sectors, with some success. This was achieved mainly because the EU was able to exert influence and impose conditions in dealing with the Southeastern Europe (SEE) countries by adopting a cooperative hegemony approach. The formation of the RCC in 2008  with the encouragement and at the urging of the EU, through the implementation of the principle of regional ownership, was expected to strengthen the Southeast European Cooperation Process ( SEECP), the sub-regional forum in which all the states of the region participate. The first part of paper argues that the RCC case should not be considered only  as a type of  regionalism, but also as part of the EU’s more general policy of creating in its periphery a ‘necklace’ of sub-regional cooperation groups and partnerships by developing with them close asymmetrical economic and political inter-regional links on a differentiated basis. The second part examines what RCC has achieved after ten years  of its creation. To what extent the RCC’ s ambitions of  promoting democracy  and economic growth  have been met and   to what degree is RCC’s capable of promoting the process of europeanisation and regional cooperation in  SEE?

Dusko Lopandic, Ambassador at large, MFA
Regional Cooperation in the Balkans reconsidered?

The recent European Commission’s strategy on the gradual Western Balkans accession to the EU (A credible enlargement perspective …with the Western Balkans, 6.2.2018) has stressed, among other things, the issues of socio-economic development in the WB countries and of regional cooperation as main factors or prerequisites for the EU accession of the individual WB candidate countries. In fact, the WBs are lagging behind the Central and Eastern Europe with regard to economic growth and/or social developments. This long-term trend has even been strengthened during the recent economic crisis. On the other hand, there is a kind of saturation of Western Balkan countries with a number of regional, mainly political forums, going from the Regional Cooperation Council, the Berlin Process, the South Eastern Cooperation Process, the Adriatic –Ionian Initiative etc. The recent idea of Regional Economic Area and the CEFTA are mainly focused on the issues of free movement (e.g. goods, services, workers, researcher), while financial, social and structural (i.e. economic policy objectives) elements are missing. While the above mentioned EC’s Strategy is a good contribution to the WB’s progressive long-term integration, it is not going far enough in looking into new and innovative ways of strengthening the WB economic development and regional cooperation which should be even more combined with European Union objectives and programs. This paper will consider further ideas on how to overcome the somehow artificial division in the Balkan region between countries which are in or/and out of the EU. With further EU process of differentiated integration, the WBs should become a natural part of EU economic landscape, involving both non-EU and EU Balkan members. The paper will consider new possible ways of regional economic cooperation, involving the whole Balkan area as a means to strengthen the regional growth and include the institutional, financial, structural and social aspects.

Session 5 (Parallel panels)

Stream 1: The remaining challenges and obstacles to EU accession of the Western Balkan candidates and potential candidates for EU membership

Panel 1.3: Internal challenges

(Monday 17:10-18:30)

Chair: Nikolaos Tzifakis, Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of the Peloponnese

Adam Fagan, Professor, Head of School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London
Epistemic Gains and Europeanization: a Discursive Institutionalist Analysis of Serbia’s Compliance with EU Conditionality

Whilst it is widely acknowledged by scholars focusing on the domestic level of analysis that for the candidate countries of South East Europe, progress towards EU accession is constrained by a host of domestic variables, the existing literature is still largely outcome-oriented. It tells us little about how the process of European integration impacts on the (dis)-empowerment of particular domestic actors relative to one another. Our research fills this gap by analysing how new knowledge about the EU and its processes is diffused within the Serbian domestic context before and after the granting of candidacy status. [We not seek to measure norm diffusion, focus on interests or the process of policy making and compliance. Instead,] we apply a quantitative discursive institutionalist analysis to assess knowledge gains comparatively among  domestic governance actors  – government, opposition parties, civil society, and over time. We ask: where does the new knowledge become entrenched and what dimensions of the EU integration is this knowledge focused on? Our findings suggests that over time there is an increase in knowledge by all actors, which indicates the emergence of the epistemic community. But, while civil society starts out most empowered it eventually falls behind government and opposition actors, which indicates reconfiguration of the epistemic community over time. Also, we find that domestic actors begin to converge on the same aspects of the European integration policy over time. We conclude that the weakness of civil society is alarming because weak civil society means less pressure on the government to deliver on commitments undertaken during the European integration process.

Dimitri Sotiropoulos, Associate Professor, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
The EU, democracy and populists in government in Western Balkans

While Western Balkan countries make economic progress towards their integration into the EU, their national political systems still diverge from even backslide away from the standards of democracy set by the Copenhagen criteria. Depending on the country in question, the primary causes for this phenomenon lie in the problematic historical legacies of transition to democracy in the early 1990s and also in the rise of populism since the late 2000s. Populist parties in government in Serbia and FYROM/FYRMacedonia have undermined the already fragile checks and balances of democratic regimes and the implementation of rights and freedoms. After rising to power, populism is not so much a pro-democratic movement and/or a type of political discourse expressing voters disaffected with the establishment, but rather a means of political domination which repeatedly tests the limits of liberal democracy.

Nevena Dakovic, Professor, University of Arts
Cinematic Challenge: Serbian “Film Law” in the process of EU integrations

The aim of this paper is to analyse the ways the newly proposed Film Law (2017 bill on cinema and films) in Serbia, the candidate member state – at the moment under public debate – meets the demands and fulfils the criteria defined by EU; and is seen as part of the transitional reforms introduced and implemented in the domain of culture and media. The new legislative proposal – made after the rejection of the 2014 Law– has to be harmonised and in accordance both with „the national legal framework as well as with the EU norms“.  Consequently the version under debate suggests new schemes tailored to the needs of the cinema but also audio-visual and the cultural sectors in the EU. Generally focused on the funding and rules to support film and revive the theatres, the salient points of the bill include the restructuring of the film and audio-visual funds; reinvestments in the sector; (re)defining of the films of „cultural or national interest“ or „promising filmmakers“; strengthening of the incentives for the investors; cooperation with the European film funds; regulative for the distribution; as well as  the segment on the preservation and protection of the audio-visual heritage.  The concept asserts the development of the Serbia’s competitiveness in film and cinema while safeguarding national, cultural and linguistic specificity as based on the model provided by French legislation. However it is equally based upon existing „cinematic practice“ modelled under both German and French influences. The hybridised role models and influences place the Serbian legislative practice at the midpoint between France and Germany. The hesitance between to central points of EU could be could „uneven Europeanisation“(Milenković 2013) at the same time giving another layer of the meaning to the known term.

Session 5 (Parallel panels)

Stream 5/Panel 5: Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia: New EU members with
“Balkan problems”

(Monday 17:10-18:30)

Chair: Asteris Huliaras, Professor, Jean Monnet Chair, University of the Peloponnese

Rosen Dimov, PhD, «Innovating Horizons” research director, Brussels
Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia: Continuously Diverging from the Innovation Union

The paper examines the current situation of Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, albeit generously funded by the EU continuously diverging from the Innovation Union. In certain areas such as Information and Communication Technologies the three states and their major companies and universities still manage to produce and sustain a substantial pace in the catching-up process, while in the domains of life sciences the three countries are still performing at the bottom of EU’s Research and Innovation Index. The symmetries and asymmetries around the innovation axis are explored with regards to the Romanian, Bulgarian and Croatian research and development stakeholders (companies and academic organisations), particularly with regards to EU cohesion funding and Horizon 2020 absorption and the contingent performance in innovation. The methodology applied includes an initial review of the major concepts and theoretical discussions followed by a combination of descriptive and correlational study of the empirical data. The diverse data is collected by interviews and questionnaires to over 40 organisations (companies and universities) running R&I projects funded by the EU and representatives of the European Parliament and European Commission dealing with R&I programmes.

Natalia Cuglesan, Lecturer, Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai
Romania and the European Union. A troubled relationship? An evaluation of the first ten years of EU membership

The accession to the European Union of the new member states- especially the enlargement wave from 2007- which has enabled the return of Romania and Bulgaria to Europe, benefits from an unbalanced exposure in the academic literature, especially their post-accession evolution. What benefits of great coverage in the literature is the transition period to democracy (the resistance of the political elite to consolidate the rule of law and initiate market economy driven reforms and accelerate the accession talks). All these scholarly contributions underlined that Romania and Bulgaria were exceptional cases, lagging behind the other states from Central and Eastern Europe and needed to be treated differently by the EU. In this context, this paper aims to respond to this gap and to the missing linkages in the EU Studies research agenda on the new member states and assess the political evolution of Romania in the last ten years, examining its achievements, challenges and pitfalls. Particular attention will be given to salience issues, e.g. progress on rule of law, judicial reforms and fight against corruption or the performance in spending EU funds, etc. The paper adopts a qualitative approach using the interpretative analysis methods. In conclusion, this paper makes an empirical contribution by closely examining the first ten years of EU membership and sheds new light on the performance of the new member states and the effects of integration, thus, the Europeanization factor.

Petar Kurecic, Associate Professor, University North
The impact of the EU membership on Croatia: Lessons that could be used by the Western Balkans states

The former communist states of Central and South-Eastern Europe at present are mostly NATO/EU member states. The Western Balkans states have a European perspective. However, the economic situation in the Western Balkans is not optimistic, with bleak prospects for rapid economic development. The GDP per capita of the “most developed” Western Balkans state (Montenegro) is still lower than the GDP of Bulgaria, the least developed EU member state. It is not probable that the investment boom and GDP growth experienced in the Visegrad Four and Baltic States in the pre-accession period will be repeated. Demographic challenges in most of the Western Balkans states are staggering, with Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Serbia losing 12.4, 22.2, 13.0, and 9.1 percent of their population from the peak year until 2018, respectively. With the possible accession to the EU, the emigration from the Western Balkans states would most likely increase due to the opening of the labour market in the EU member states. The EU Strategy for the Western Balkans was revealed in February 2018. The Bulgarian presidency of the EU has put the Western Balkans high on its list of priorities. What could be the major implications of the accession to the EU for these states? In order to find answers, poor economic results and negative demographic impacts of the domestic situation, which have mostly annulled the positive effects of the EU membership for Croatia, the most recent EU member state, are presented, with predictions what might occur in the Western Balkans if socio-economic development is not comprehensively encouraged and financed by the EU.

Session 5 (Parallel panels)

Stream 6: The EU and the (solution of the Greek Crisis)

Panel 6.1: EU Integration Dynamics and the Greek Crisis Management

(Monday, 17:10-18:30)

Chair: Manos Papazoglou, Assistant Professor, University of the Peloponnese

Georgios Maris, Post-Doctoral Fellow, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Sovereignty and Asymmetric Power: European Integration, Dynamics and Change in the European Union

The main purpose of this paper is to suggest a different interpretation, presenting an alternative model for the systematic examination of change in the European Union, by stressing the importance of asymmetric power, which affects all dimensions of European integration. We will discuss how the dynamics of asymmetric relationships among the actors affect the integration process. In this peculiar European space, asymmetry takes on completely different characteristics from the asymmetry observed in the international context, changing the nature of both the integration and the intergovernmental model. European integration becomes the means, and the EU becomes the arena, within which the powerful MS dominate the less powerful through the dynamics of asymmetric relationships.

Vasileios Balafas, PhD candidate, University of the Peloponnese
Did the EU Get Moderate Towards Greece? A Three-Landmarks Approach

Many analysts agree that the deep economic crisis in Greece, combined with the attitude and the decisions of the ‘Troika’ scheme (EC-IMF-ECB) and the fiscal measures imposed to Greek citizens since 2010, radicalized the society, rising a wave of euroscepticism that led to the result of the referendum on 5 July 2015, in which a large majority of 61,31 % rejected Troika’s agreement plan(Grahl, 2017, pp. 72–79). Furthermore, it is argued that in some critical phases of the overall under-memorandum era in Greece – that still goes on – Troika’s immoderate stance was decisive for political developments that changed the governmental landscape in the country. The Greek National Elections of January 2015 could be considered as the outcome of such a stance(Kalyvas, 2015).Greece is in the eighth consecutive year under a sort of debt memorandums, since May 2010. During these years, four National Elections took place, while four Prime Ministers (interim-ones not included) took office. Some similar events have happened under these Greek Governments and one could observe different dealing from the EU side mainly.  We choose three similar landmarks to investigate. Firstly, the referendum case of 2010 and 2015. Secondly, the pre-Elections short period before Antonis Samaras’ government and first Alexis Tsipras’ government. Thirdly, the general EU’s stance towards Greek Governments, during evaluation periods, before and after January 2015. Our purpose is to examine if, how and under what political and tactical framework the EU – via Troika – got moderate towards Greece since May 2010. The aforementioned three landmarks are, in our point of view, characteristic cases of EU’s differentiated attitude.

Georgios Archontas, Adjunct Lecturer, University of the Peloponnese
Is Crisis-fueled Greek Euroscepticism Reversible? European Lessons to be learned from the Greek Case

For decades, Greece had been one of the most pro-European member states of the EEC/EU. This has dramatically changed since the beginning of the ongoing economic crisis in the country, which has challenged many assumptions formerly taken as granted: Not only the prospect of an uninterrupted, and largely unconditional, growth has been proven problematic, but also the ability of the once celebrated for its cultural significance, albeit cumbersome, European modus operandi to effectively address a crisis situation of such a depth. However tempting may be to label Greece as a special case due to the specific structural predicaments the country is facing, the recent surge of Greek euroscepticism can be seen as indicative of the challenges EU is facing overall, as the legitimizing foundation of a top-down efficiency has been severely undermined.This paper examines the implications that the implemented strategy of addressing the crisis has had on the perceived legitimacy of the European project among Greeks, as well as the prospects and challenges of restoring a perception of EU efficiency and fairness that lie ahead both for Greece and for other EU member states.

Session 6 

Roundtable Discussion: Challenges and opportunities for the Western Balkans-EU-Relationship

(Tuesday, 10:15-12:15)

Five years after its last enlargement, the EU is shifting its focus again on the Western Balkans. Geopolitically the region has acquired renewed importance. However, the EU integration process of the aspirant members remains too slow: regional cooperation is still hindered by bilateral disputes and hesitant political and market reforms.  How can we tackle the existing problems and speed up the integration process? How can Brussels and especially the EU-members in the region help? Specifically, what role is there for Greece, as it resurfaces from the financial crisis? Overall, can the new European Commission Strategy give a new impetus to the process? How do we assess the Conclusions of the EU-Western Balkan Sofia Summit?  What can we expect from the forthcoming London ‘Berlin process’ EU-Western Balkans Summit?

Chair: Angelos Athanasopoulos, Senior Diplomatic and EU affairs Editor, Daily Newspaper «To Vima”, Greece

Dr. Ognyan Minchev, Executive Director, Institute for Regional and International Studies, Bulgaria
Nenad Sebek, International Consultant for Media and Civil Society, Serbia
Zoran Nechev, Project Coordinator – Researcher, Centre for European integration, Societas Civilis, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Alexandros P. Mallias, Visiting Lecturer, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of the Peloponnese, Greece

Session 7 (Parallel panels)

Stream 7: Is Turkey Still a Candidate for EU Membership

Panel 7.1. Turkey in Limbo: Transiting to where?

(Tuesday, 13:30-15:15)

Chair: Harry Papasotiriou, Professor, Chair of the Department of International, European and Area Studies, Panteion University, Director of the Institute of International Relations

Kostas Ifantis, Associate Professor, Kadir Has University and Panteion University
AKP Foreign Policy Discourse: Exceptionalism and Exclusivism at Work

Surrounded by some of the most pressing issues and bilious actors of international relations Turkey is in no position to swan its neighborhood. The days of spawning complacency about ostensible foreign policy (FP) ‘successes’ and receiving perfunctory “kudos” are over. As risks emanating from the regional environment are not confined to Turkey, or the region, with profound impact on global security architecture, the country’s geopolitical position seems to provide its decision makers with some leverage. As President Erdoğan temerariously batters Turkey’s Western allies, and as his decisions send mixed messages, the strategic bearing of the country seems to provide a degree of impunity. On the other hand the situation risks to transform into a “geopolitical straitjacket” that distorts Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy balances. As Ankara’s choices influence the future stability and/or disability of the regional and international system, it becomes important to understand how Turkish foreign policy (TFP) decision-making is shaped.

Kostas Lavdas, Professor, Panteion University
The Limits of Europeanization: Turkey Between Special Status and Systemic Reversal?

Since its application for full EU membership in 1987, Turkey has gone through a series of domestic, international and transnational shifts, including a major breakthrough in 1999 when the country’s candidate status was accepted by the EU. In this evolving framework, Europeanization through the gradual application of EU conditionality was thought to have contributed to a new reality for Turkish politics, as «the goal of EU membership may keep Turkey on a clear path toward full–fledged democracy” (Müftüler-Bac & Mclaren 2003: 28). Recent developments in Turkish politics and in Turkish-EU relations bring to the fore a host of challenges to our understanding of Turkish-EU relations and – more fundamentally – to established notions of Europeanization.

Dimitris Keridis, Professor, Panteion University
The Making and Unmaking of Turkish Democracy

This paper examines the Turkish transition to democracy with an emphasis on the recent constitutional changes in favor of a presidential system of government. Turkey is the country with the longest democratization, a process that started with the first free elections of 1946 and continue to the present day. What is the government of Turkey today? Why elections are important? Why Turkey has been unable to consolidate its democracy and why its democracy has suffered repeated breakdowns? How does the hybridity of Turkish politics affect the external behavior and the foreign policy of the Turkish Republic? These are some of the questions the paper will address in an effort to place Turkey within the broader understandings of the theory of democracy, democratization and international relations.

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou, Associate Professor, Kadir Has University
Turkey’s difficult balancing act: Between Black Sea Dynamics and the Middle East

Over the last few years, in particular over the course of the Syrian conflict, the linkages between its neighbourhoods to its north and north-east (Black Sea) and its south and south-east (Middle East) have never been more evident for Turkey. While, until the recent past, the Black Sea could be studied as a stand-alone unit of analysis, or even at subregional level, the involvement of Russia in the Syrian imbroglio has shattered the relative consensual arrangement between Moscow and Ankara across the Black Sea Region. In other words, the illusion of relative consensus between big power Russia and middle power Turkey, primarily driven by the terms of the Montreux Convention, albeit their strategic divide, has been severely tested as the active Russian involvement in the Middle East has shattered Turkey’s policy of “compartmentalizing” its relations with its neighbours.  On the one hand, the strategic balance in the Black Sea itself has been tilting heavily in favour of Russia due to its land grabs (Crimea) or its support of its proxies such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On the other hand, the implications in terms of Turkey’s energy ambitions, regional options, and even its cohesion as the Kurdish push for independence attests, are primordial. This paper seeks to assess how the aforementioned evolving regional context has affected Turkey’s ability today as a regional power to formulate cohesive Black Sea and Middle East policies commensurate with its regional ambitions.

Kleanthis Kyriakidis, PhDc, MA, MS, MPA Harvard Kennedy School, Political Analyst
Islam in Turkey: From Persecution to Appeasement, Power and perhaps Domination

This paper examines the role of Islam in Turkey under AKP rule. We will explain how the current erosion of Kemalism as the prevailing ideology, along with a vigorous Islamization, directly affects both the democratization process and the Turkish foreign policy. Islam in Turkey had been suffering from severe persecution since its foundation and until the 1980s, when the last Turkish dictatorship introduced the notion of “Turko-Islamic synthesis”. Turgut Ozal was even more open to Islam and favored the Sufi Brotherhoods and then starting with Erbakan and finishing with Erdogan, Political Islam eventually came to power. As regards democratization, that was considered a step forward, since in the beginning Political Islam seemed to be Turkey’s liberator from the Deep State. The trend was reversed especially after the Gazi Park and up to the fraud allegations pertaining to the notorious constitutional referendum. In the meantime, the failed coup d’ etat and the subsequent crackdown on both the Military and the Gullenist Movement, leave no room for doubt as regards the authoritarian nature of the regime and Erdogan himself.  What is more important to our research, Islam has been the vehicle through which the President of the Turkish Republic wanted and still tries to play a leading role in the Middle East. He practically uses religion in order to advance his personal agenda. We can thus suggest that domestically he Islamizes politics while in foreign affairs he politicizes religion. We will discuss how he confronted Israel and tried to assume the role of the protector of Muslim Brotherhood, both disastrous moves that led to his almost unmitigated isolation. Consequently, he had to resort to an ad hoc alliance with the Christian Russia and the Shia Iran (both traditional historic adversaries) and remotely with atheist China, becoming a pariah of the Arab and Sunni world, with the notable exception of the even more isolated Qatar. Last but not least, we will try to assess the scenario of a future cooperation with Israel and explain how the rich heritage and complexity of Turkish Islam (Alevis, Sufis or Gullenists) could be an ally but also an adversary of AKP.

Session 7 (Parallel panels)

Stream 1: The remaining challenges and obstacles to EU accession of the Western Balkan candidates and potential candidates for EU membership

Panel 1.4: Intraregional relations

(Tuesday, 13:30-15:15)

Chair: Sotiris Roussos, Associate Professor, University of the Peloponnese

Yorgos Christidis, Assistant Professor, University of Macedonia and Ana Chupeska Stanishkovska, Assistant Professor, UKIM
Breaking the “Hostility Discourse”: Border Security Cooperation between Athens and Skopje since the beginning of the Refugee Crisis (2015-today)

During the second half of 2015 and the first months of 2016 Athens and Skopje, came face to face with a massive inflow of refugees. Their sheer number (app. 800,000), put to the test the administrative capabilities of both neighboring states and their bilateral relations on a variety of questions: from covering refugees basic needs and human rights protection to the issues of border security, the involvement of smugglers, organized crime and infiltration by potential terrorists. The crisis brought into the surface the necessity of direct communication and collaboration between the authorities of the two countries – which was missing, having in mind  the state of previously dominant “hostility discourse’. At the same time, among the so-called Confidence Building Measures, agreed between Athens and Skopje in June 2015, there is one concerning “Justice and Home Affairs”, which can be seen as focal point of joint praxis since it covers intensive consultations between high level power representatives (Ministries on Internal Affairs, border police, customs administration), for the purpose of exchanging information regarding organized crime, corruption, terrorism, illegal migration and drug trafficking.
The purpose of the paper is to examine the state of cooperation developed between Athens and Skopje on extremely sensitive issues, such as border security and internal affairs, since the second half of 2015, and to see to what extent it has affected the “hostility discourse” between the two countries. Given the fact that a new round of bilateral negotiations between the two countries has begun, under the aegis of the UN, the paper would also ponder upon the effects a potential agreement or lack of an agreement could have on the existing cooperation between Athens and Skopje.

Božo Drašković, Professor, Institute of Economic Sciences
Economic and Political aspects of the Serbia-Kosovo relationship

In the second half of the twentieth century, up until the end of the last decade, Kosovo was an autonomous region and a constitutional part of Serbia, with a special political status both in Serbia and in the institutions of the Yugoslav federation. The period we analyse in this work has been divided into three segments. The first period refers to the time from 1960 to 1980. It was distinctive of intensive economic growth and relative political stability. The second period covers the decade between 1980 and 1990, as the period of crisis befalling the system of political and economic self-management. It was precisely in this period that all future dramatic events were generated. The harsh political and economic crisis that took hold of the former socialist Yugoslavia led to its breakdown. This breakdown is the third and last period. The consequences of the breakdown were manifested in the region of Kosovo. There was a strong desire among the predominant Albanian population in Kosovo to gain independence from the central authority, incarnated in the parent Republic of Serbia. The events from the last decade of the twentieth century led to armed conflicts and foreign military intervention. The result has been a change in Kosovo’s status. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by numerous countries, although Serbia and another group of countries, including five member states of the EU, do not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Parallel with these political developments and tensions, there is economic cooperation unfolding between companies from the territory of the Republic of Serbia and companies from Kosovo. Market and economic processes can sometimes occur above and before political movements. This can be illustrated through the flows of economic and business communication between Serbia and Kosovo. Economic and political relations between Serbia and Kosovo have been burdened by attempts to resolve the issues related to large infrastructure investments from the past. This particularly refers to the energy sector, mining resources and the issues surrounding international debts of Kosovo, which had been incurred before the breakdown of the former Yugoslavia.
Key words: political relations, economic development, property rights, economic and cultural heritage, sovereignty, economic liberties, market.

Dionysios Stivas, PhD Candidate, Hong Kong Baptist University
EU Enlargement to the Western Balkans: the 2003 and 2014 Greek Council Rotating Presidencies’ Effect

In June 2003, the Greek Council Rotating Presidency (GCRP) promoted the Thessaloniki Agenda. With the adoption of Thessaloniki Agenda, the EU confirmed the accession perspective of the Western Balkans’ countries. Eleven years later, the GCRP of 2014 endorsed the Thessaloniki II in order to reaffirm the commitment of the EU to the European perspective of the Western Balkans. Greece’s determination to guarantee a ‘European’ future for the Western Balkans inspires a series of questions. Did Greece take advantage of her Council Rotating Presidencies (CRPs) to promote her own agenda at the expense of the EU’s general interest? Following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, to which extent did the decrease of the CRPs’ powers influence the capability of Greece to promote the accession of the Western Balkans’ countries to the EU in 2014? How did the Greek financial crisis affect the power and determination of the 2014 GCRP to reaffirm the EU perspective of the Western Balkans?
To address these questions, this paper compares the outcomes and determination of the GCRPs of 2003 and 2014 as regards the European perspective of the Western Balkans. To facilitate the comparison, this paper applies Vandecasteele et al.’s analytical framework. By doing so, it extracts the degree of goal achievement and ascription of the GCRP of 2003 and 2014. It demonstrates that Greece, despite going through a major financial crisis, was able to take advantage of the 2014 CRP to promote the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans. It suggests that the Lisbon Treaty’s reduction of CRPs’ powers did not affect the capability of the EU member states to ‘steer’ and control the process of the EU’s enlargement. It concludes that Greece, through her two CRPs of 2003 and 2014, played an important role to the process of the Western Balkans’ ‘Europeanization’.

Simone Benazzo, Researcher, Journalist & Storyteller, College of Europe
Brussels Calling. Changes And Continuities In Fyrom’s Foreign Policy Under Zoran Zaev

In May 2017 Zoran Zaev became the new Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending the prolonged political stalemate that had started with former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s resignation in January 2016. The centre-left government led by Zaev has vowed to relaunch the Euro-Atlantic integration process of the small landlocked republic, which has been an EU candidate country since 2005. It is widely understood that such an ambition cannot be reignited without normalizing neighbourly relations beforehand.Major diplomatic achievements have therefore been negotiated and finalised by Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, such as the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria signed on 15th January 2018 and the European Commission’s positive recommendation obtained three months later. Although EU officials have vocally called on Skopje on pursuing further substantial reforms, these steps have been interpreted as concrete signs that Skopje is on the good way towards the European Union. The European Council planned for 28-29 June and the NATO summit in Brussels that will take place on 11-12 July may officially ratify and boost the new diplomatic course the Zaev’s government has inaugurated. However significant obstacles yet need to be overcome. The thorniest issue on the table is the name dispute with Greece. Athens has so far prevented its post-Yugoslav neighbour from adopting the name «Macedonia” in the international arena, being this the name of both the northern region of Greece that has Thessaloniki as its capital city and an historical region of Ancient Greece. Since FYROM’s independence in 1991, Greeks have resorted to this veto for fear that allowing Macedonians to use this name could eventually fuel their territorial claims over Northern Greece. This paper aims at critically assessing the current FYROM’s foreign policy brought by comparing it with the one conducted under Nikola Gruevski, thus highlighting the main discontinuities and also assessing the role the EU has played in influencing this development. Documents and speeches from EU officials will be mainly used as sources.

Session 7 (Parallel panels)

Stream 2: The EU’s peace and statehood-building efforts in the Western Balkans- failures and achievements

Panel 2.1: The role of EU missions and conditionality

(Tuesday, 13:30-15:15)

Chair: Martin Holland, Professor, Director of the National Centre for Research on Europe, University of Canterbury

Maja Kovacevic, Professor, University of Belgrade
EU Security Missions in Bosnia and Kosovo: CSDP and the “Capability-Expectations Gap”

During almost twenty years since Cologne and Helsinki 1999 European Councils, the Common Security and Defence Policy (ESDP/CSDP) has been a rapidly evolving policy: numerous steps have been taken towards endowing CSDP with the institutional structures and civil/military instruments. Under the framework of the CSDP, the EU has launched 35 missions and operations since 2003, six out of them in the Western Balkans, the region which has long been a special concern for the EU. The Western Balkans is the geographical area where the EU explicitly claims a political and operational lead. This research will apply Christopher Hill’s famous concept of the capability-expectations gap (originally related to the EC’s foreign relations in general) on the CSDP, more specifically on two still ongoing missions in the Western Balkans: EULEX Kosovo and EUFOR ALTHEA BIH. Both missions are of paramount importance for the CSDP: EUFOR ALTHEA BIH is the EU’s longest running military operation (since 2004), while EULEX Kosovo is the largest civilian mission ever launched under the CSDP. Both missions aim not only at post-conflict stabilisation, but need to perform within an ambitious EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises and its state building strategy. In light of these ambitions, we will explore the EU capabilities in form of ‘its ability to agree, its resources, and the instruments at its disposal’. Analysis of planning, decision making and implementation of those missions reveals that, while there has been an undeniable amelioration when it comes to resource availability and instruments, the fundamental CSDP problems remain: national foreign policies and ability of member states to agree, staffing constraints, coordination with other EU policies/instruments/institutions, and dependence on NATO.

Ivana Boštjančič Pulko, Project Manager and Researcher Centre for European Perspective
(In)effective CSDP Planning in the Western Balkans? Comparative Analysis of EULEX Kosovo and EUFOR Althea

This paper evaluates the effectiveness of planning and implementation of two CSDP missions in the Western Balkans, the rule of law mission EULEX Kosovo and the military operation EUFOR Althea in BiH. Both missions suffer due to partial interests within the EU and low positioning of CSDP on political agendas of EU member states. Compared to NATO, political control of EU missions is much more detailed once the mission is deployed. CSDP planning architecture has been considerably reformed since 2003, however the thorough supervision by the member states is still present in all phases of missions’ implementation.  EULEX planning process includes a well elaborated lessons learnt process, however the application of the findings on the operational level is rather weak whereas EUFOR Althea profited mostly from the access to NATO planning assets. CSDP is part of EU’s foreign policy toolbox and the paper scrutinizes whether the missions’ mandates have changed accordingly in order to achieve EU’s strategic goals in the region.

Enver Abdulahi, Assistant Professor, Mother Teresa University
Assessing EU foreign policy capacity of democratization via political conditionality in Western Balkans/case study Macedonia

Political developments in South Eastern Europe raise serious doubts that the European Union will be able to repeat its success story of democratization via political conditionality as it is widely acknowledged in Central and Eastern Europe. This article shows that EU foreign policy incentive based instruments are only suitable for triggering democratic change under certain domestic preconditions in countries characterized by legacies of ethnic conflict and minority rights such as the case of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2001/2005. It argues that if national identity contradicts democratic requirements, it will result in non compliance by framing it by national governments as inappropriate action. The argument is empirically demonstrated using the example of one of the most problematic issue areas in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, for which the EU has partially succeeded in bringing about democratic change: inter ethnic relations. This article researches the impact of EU foreign policy in recent political and institutional crisis in Macedonia. By focusing in particular in leasing the compromising process for the political solutions amongst political parties, the paper demonstrates EU foreign policy overall successfully handling the political situation and bringing the Macedonia back to the European track. The paper concludes that there is an important lessons to be learned from Macedonia’s political crisis when comes to the EU foreign policy speaking with single voice.

Anastasios Filntisis, PhD candidate, University of the Peloponnese
The EU-Western Balkans Cooperation on terrorism

Western Balkans constitutes a region seriously affected by terrorism, and especially the countries with massive muslim populations. According to statistics, around 900 foreign fighters come from the region (mainly from Bosnia, Albania, FYROM, and Kosovo), which is also used from terrorists both as a safe haven and as a corridor to Western Europe. Another cause of concern is the growing radicalization process among the region’s youth, which calls for urgent measures to counter this evolution and to dissolve the terrorist networks. The poor economic situation, the penetration of various religious institutions which are financed mainly from the Gulf states, and the memories from the past when foreign fighters came to fight alongside with the Bosniaks during the wars of Yugoslavia, are elements which have to be taken into account when we examine the terrorist phenomenon in the region.
During the last years the European Union has evolved into an important actor in counter-terrorism due to the substantial increase of terrorist attacks in Europe. Towards this direction, the EU has taken initiatives in order to promote cooperation between the countries of Western Balkans and enhance their efficiency in the fields of counter-terrorism and radicalization.
The paper conducts an evaluation of the historical process of radicalization and terrorism phenomenon in the region since the 1990s. In the second part there is an examination of the measures adopted by the countries of the region against terrorism, both after 9/11 and during the previous years, as a result of the rising flows of foreign fighters from the region to Syria and Iraq. In the third part we refer to the Western Balkans – EU cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism, which has been strengthened over the years and we examine the impact of EU integration process on the stability of the region.

Donald Gkelios, PhD candidate, Panteion University
The EU’s constitutional triangle in the Western Balkans: Current Obstacles and Future Challenges

There is an initial need to identify the remaining obstacles and crucial challenges for revitalizing reforms and strengthening the transformative force of the EU in the Western Balkans. The relative factors are connected with the successful transposition of the EU’s constitutional triangle into the reality of the Western Balkans. Throughout the whole EU-WB relationship it is stressed particularly 1) the respect for, promotion and protection on human (fundamental) rights 2) the empowerment of democratic (governance) principles and 3) the establishment of a judicial space governed by the rule of law.  The recent declaration of President Juncker that “accession candidates must give the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights utmost priority in the negotiations” reaffirms their significance. This triangular relationship is working as conditionality basis, which upon the sufficient implementation is awarded the EU’s political, financial and technical aid. Furthermore, beyond the narrow institutional arrangements in these crucial sectors a comprehensive democratic and societal transformation is required. The quality of reform in the three areas constitutes the essential precondition for the success of all the reforms needed with special attention to the Balkan peculiarities. In other words, this constitutional triangle is functioning as “conditio sine qua non” for the designation and implementation of all the other reforms in the Western Balkans. Effective measures must be taken in the judicial system and public administration, in the fight against corruption, organized crime and clientelistic networks to strengthen the democratic function of institutions. That’s why a Initiative to strengthen the rule of law was announced by European Commission in its last Enlargement Strategy. Finally, this paper is concluding with the argument that the interplay of the mentioned explanations, as external-internal or dependent- independent variables, plays a crucial role in nurturing the natural ties of EU-WB cooperation. Also, there are strong political, economic and geopolitical interests (both in EU and WB) that reduce the political will and function as undroppable obstacles for the limited effectiveness of the applied EU’s laws and policies.

Session 8 (Parallel panels)

Stream 2: The EU’s peace and statehood-building efforts in the Western Balkans – failures and achievements

Panel 2.2: BiH and Kosovo

(Tuesday, 15:35-17:05)

Chair: Dr. Milenko Petrovic, Jean Monnet Chair, Senior Lecturer Above the Bar, National Centre for Research on Europe, University of Canterbury

Costas Laoutides, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University
Looking for the Demos: EU’s peacebuilding in BiH and the quest for a new form of political community

This paper seeks to reframe the conventional characterization of the situation in BiH which is anchored in ethnicity. Emphasis is placed on how power is framed and contested in relation to processes of identification. Identity is defined as the politicised expression of ideological underpinnings associated with the distribution and management of political power. The paper draws together the model of peacebuilding promoted by the EU, with a theoretical discussion around key ideas often employed in analysing these conflicts: ‘ethnicity’, ‘identity’ and ‘territory’. It is argued that although power-sharing on the basis of ethnicity has ended political violence and has brought stability, the continuous prevalence of ethnicity deprives the emergence of new forms of political association. This stalemate is partly explained by the fact that power-sharing appears as the only alternative to the majoritarian model of government which is detrimental for ethnic minorities in divided societies. Thus, ‘ethnicity’ has become the outward manifestation of a political conflict that is actually far more deeply underpinned by issues of political rights and distribution, state power versus decentralisation, the quest for equality and freedom, and the question of who constitute the demos in BiH’s democracy. As an afterthought, the paper will also sketch the potential impact of EU’s approach to BiH as an exemplar transferable to similar contexts with particular reference to the ethnic conflicts in Myanmar that informs much of my recent research.

Rok Zupancic, PhD Marie Curie Research Fellow, Karl Franzens Universität Graz
A bottom up perspective on the Normative Power Europe: EU peacebuilding in the north of Kosovo and psychosocial implications for the locals

This paper explores what does the Brussels dialogue, one of the cornerstones of the current EU peacebuilding activities in Kosovo, mean for the Serbs in the north of Kosovo. As argued by many, the EU-brokered dialogue is ‘success’ of EU peacebuilding. However, such positive assessments usually overlook variety of consequences for the locals and their perception of “success”. By linking the theory on the EU as a normative power with the academic literature on the local aspects of peacebuilding, this paper argues that despite the supposed success, the EU peacebuilding approach in Kosovo had also several negative psychosocial implications for Serbs in the north of Kosovo and also contributed to the worsening of intra-ethnic relations. The contours of intra-ethnic conflict in this territory reached one of its climaxes in January 2018, when a prominent Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic was assassinated. Such development of general insecurity in the north of Kosovo, to which also the EU contributed by ignoring or not addressing the imminent challenges adequately, put the supposed success of EU peacebuilding under question and also negatively affect the overall perception of the EU as a normative power.
Key words: the EU, peacebuilding, normative power, the north of Kosovo, the Brussels agreement, psychosocial implications, Oliver Ivanovic

Karla Koutková, Assistant Professor, Palacký University Olomouc
«Translating down”: Informality as an interpretive filter in the EU-led state building in Bosnia

The findings of the paper aim to contribute to the larger debate on the EU-led peaceand state-building efforts in the Western Balkans with an ethnography of policy translation in Bosnia, adding cultural and semiotic context to the policy evaluations on ‘failure’ and ‘achievement.’ The paper is an outcome of research of informality inthe context of state-building led by international actors in Bosnia. It argues that the boundary between the formal and the informal is fuzzy and dependent on the meaning-making actors’ positionality, power and performativity. As a result of aninterdisciplinary project at the crossroads of political science and social anthropology, it proposes a grounded theory in which informality functions as a communicative vehicle in the process of policy translation among local and non-local actors. As the paper shows, an important role in this process is taken by transactors, local staff of an international agency and employees of the internationally supported nongovernmental sector, who view formal requirements and procedures as fake and nonsensical (ubleha). The paper rests on thirteen months of participant observation in two research sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2012-2013). The main research site has been the OSCE asan embodiment of an international agency driven both by the actions of the ‘locals’ and the ‘internationals’ among staff. The second site is formed by the local counterparts of the OSCE, namely ‘local communities’ (MZs, mjesne zajednice), semiformal organizations that originated as a neighborhood-level governance in socialist Yugoslavia. In interaction between the OSCE and the MZs, I analyze the informal prism through the process of translating down, in which the local intermediaries interpret the etic language of informality into those emic concepts that the ‘internationals’ oppose.

Giorgos Triantafyllou, Research Fellow, South-East Europe Programme, ELIAMEP
Security Sector Reform in Bosnia and Kosovo: A comparative Analysis

The concept of Security Sector Reform (SSR) aims to respite the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force, by reforming the security sector so as to empower provision of security for the state and for all its people. In the Balkans, Bosnia and Kosovo, under the guidance, support and directives of the international community, have been undergoing a SSR, aiming to transform in stable and functional democracies, with the ultimate objective of joining the EU. Yet the recently published strategy of the EU on the enlargement towards the Western Balkans, was met in Bosnia and Kosovo with widespread disappointment, as the two countries are sketched as the two least probable to join the EU in the future. This paper aims to present an account of SSR in Bosnia and Kosovo, discussing the role of international actors, the levels of local ownership and engagement to the process, and the progress that has been made in each country. Additionally, the paper aims to present the most significant weaknesses of SSR in each country, with an eye on drawing some comparative conclusions that might shed some light to why those two Balkan countries seem to stand a long way from their EU membership.

Session 8 (Parallel panels)

Stream 1: The remaining challenges and obstacles to EU accession of the Western Balkan candidates and potential candidates for EU membership

Panel 1.5: External relations

(Tuesday, 15:35-17:05)

Chair: Socratis Koniordos, Professor, University of the Peloponnese

Ivica Bakota, Lecturer and Researcher, Capital Normal University
Responsible Partner or Opportunist Free-rider: China`s relations with the countries of the Western Balkans in the Second Decade of the 21st Century

With the establishment of the Chinese key foreign policy initiatives towards the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, i.e. 16+1 cooperation framework (16+1) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese economic presence and the involvement in the Western Balkans (WB, encompassing Albania and the five ex-Yugoslav countries: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and, exceptionally, Croatia) gradually appeared concurrent to other global and regional powers involved in the region. China’s relations with the WB initially focused on trade relations and soon spread throughout the region becoming one of the top five trade partners of each country. Five years since the launch of 16+1, Beijing`s economic clout is believed to increasingly attained significant political leverage in the region. The countries in the WB became more susceptible to initiatives engaging or balancing against China on international fora and over the past decade gradually enhanced economic and political cooperation with China. The aim of this paper is to examine present scope of the political and economic relations between the countries of the WB and China, specific political and economic impacts on existing regional security and cooperation frameworks, as well as the prospects and challenges Chinese main FP initiatives could face in the WB region. Specifically, in the light of some recent critiques emphasizing crude geopolitical underpinnings of Chinese FP initiatives, it aspires to provide insights on parallel and possibly conflicting commitments the regional countries have towards the EU integration and the EU sponsored regional frameworks.

Charalampos Panagiotidis, PhD candidate, University of the Peloponnese
Serbia’s accession to the European Union and the Russian factor

Serbia’s prospect of becoming an EU-member faces several difficulties. Its progress over the last decade is impressive, but there are still things to be done. The relations between Serbia and Kosovo is the main problem. Since the Brussels Agreement (2013) little progress has been made, although the situation is stable and peaceful. The Agreement’s provisions were to be implemented by December 2015, which did not happen. Another major issue for Serbia is its level of corruption. Efforts to improve the legal system have been undertaken and have had some results. On the other hand, Serbia has significantly improved in almost every other aspect, both socially and administratively.
Russian ties with Serbia are quite close. Not only Russian companies are active in important economical sectors such as energy and transport, but also the cultural proximity that extends throughout the country by the media, increases the Serbs’ affection towards Russia. Linguistics and common Slavic cultural identity enable any kind of Soft Power implemented by the Russians. Furthermore, Serbia is still being equipped with Russian arms. Even though there are steps taken towards NATO, most of its citizens seem to oppose such a development due to the bombings in 1999.
In this aspect it may seem that EU and Russia are competing over Serbia, or that Serbia is trying to take advantage of the situation gaining both from the EU and Russia. Either way the cultural relations between the two Slavic nations are undisputed and the EU’s effort to establish a sustainable and long lasting peace in the former Yugoslav region is sincere. After all, the last major war in Europe took place in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s, which was a failure of European powers, and thus something that they do not want to be repeated.

Péter Kacziba, Assistant Lecturer, University of Pécs
Contemporary Hungarian Foreign Policy towards the Balkans

Due to the physical proximity, the Balkans have always played a significant role in the Hungarian foreign policy. Throughout the history, Hungary and the region maintained a turbulent and ever-changing relation which have recently settled into a peaceful and cooperative coexistence. Although governments and foreign policy directions have changed over time, the Balkan peninsula has maintained its importance for Budapest which attempted to play an active, intermediary role between the EU and NATO and the former Yugoslav republics. Since the inauguration of the second Orbán government in 2010, however, the traditional characteristics of Hungarian Balkan approach have slightly shifted.  With the new «Eastern Opening” doctrine, Hungary has begun to follow a more independent and more nationalistic foreign policy which accompanied with an EU critical but Russian and Turkish friendly tone. These changes have influenced the Balkan countries on a different scale, but have apparently affected those countries that still struggle to deal with challenges of migration. As a result, Budapest’s role remained to be controversial in the Balkans. On one hand, the EU and NATO member Hungary politically and economically supports the stabilization and European integration process of the region, and therefore it also provides military contingents for KFOR and EUFOR. On the other hand, however, Hungary projects its domestic political games to the Balkans: among other issues, it plays an active role in the demonization of migrants, offer dual citizenship for ethnic Hungarians, and it serves as a political model for regional populists. The presentation will attempt to review all of these controversies of the contemporary Hungarian Balkan politics.

Vasileios Kyriazis, PhD candidate, University of Thessaly
The EU and the Balkans: Defence Industries, Finding Cooperation and Integration in “Unexpected” Places

The scope of this paper is to examine the current and potential synergies created between the defence industries of Balkan States and European Union (EU) Member States. Using defence industry as a starting point, the paper aims to go beyond a simple mapping of technological results and to examine the socioeconomic benefits created from the cooperation between Balkan and EU Defence companies and the level of integration of Balkan defence entities in the EU ‘defence ecosystem’. International cooperation between defence companies helps towards the direction of creating strategic synergies aimed at addressing among others technological gaps, developing and/or manufacturing innovative products and/or services, facilitating the circulation of “tacit knowledge” between entities (companies and/or universities), creating new jobs and providing access to resources (knowledge, capital etc.). In this context, networking is also the creation of technology innovation and interpersonal networks, which are used as channels for knowledge diffusion and information exchange, development of social connections between individuals and the creation of tangible ‘knowledge links’.  The scope of the paper will be explored through the discussion of some cases that exemplifies cooperation between EU and Balkan defence companies. Additionally, a synoptic analysis of the bilateral trade of defence products between the Balkan States and EU member states will be studied and a linkage between the volume of bilateral trade and the maturity of cooperation will be delineated. The proposed methodology/strategy includes the utilizations of a number of available sources of information (internet, books, conference proceedings, newspapers, databases of international organisations and institutions, such as SIPRI, press releases of defence companies etc.). Results will be “visualized” using the help of diagrams, and/or infographics.