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The European Union and the Democratization Process of the Western Balkans

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A Critical Perspective

image of Southeastern Europe

This paper considers democratization process in the Western Balkans and the influence of the European Union on this process. After the fall of communism European Union has been deeply involved in the transformation of the post-communist societies in the Eastern Europe. The lack of democratic tradition, complexity of democratic process, weak institutions and weak civil society have been among the main obstacles for quick transition. Yet many authors have argued that the EU membership has been one of the most important foreign policy goals of the post-socialist governments and a foreign policy tool of European Union. The EU has been using a leverage of prospect of EU membership and EU conditionality for implementing certain policies, hence trying to encourage the democratization process. This paper compares a democratization process in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) with one in the Western Balkans, and looks at EU conditionality and its impact on the democratization process of the Western Balkan states. We argue that the prospect of EU membership has influenced democratization in the Western Balkans to some extent, but the implementation of reforms has been superficial in some policy areas due to ostensible compliance with EU rules of the political elites.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana,


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