The censuses in the Western Balkan countries deserve special attention as they are grouped in a region with a conflictual and difficult past. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fell apart in the early 1990s, resulting in the current configuration of independent countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). This dissolution process has troubled the region for years with wars that have cost many lives, and which still remain an important event in the minds of many people in the region as well as in the minds of the hundreds of thousands that have fled the region and built a life in other European countries.
This special issue of Contemporary Southeastern Europe highlights recent research in the social anthropology of three former Yugoslav countries, namely Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia. It represents a shift away from previous studies of the former Yugoslav region, which has focused mostly on the dissolution of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia and ensuing wars. This issue points to the necessity of studying the Western Balkans from perspectives beyond the ‘war and nationalism’ paradigm. With its comparative approach, anthropology is probably the best of the social sciences for undertaking such an endeavour.
This paper will explore the impact of the economic crisis on the Western Balkan countries, and how the new, unfavourable international environment is affecting their EU accession prospects. The analysis will be presented in three sections: the first part will examine the effect of the “first wave” of the global economic crisis on the economies of the region, specifically the impact on the region’s macroeconomic indicators, foreign direct investment flows, financial sectors, etc. Part two will analyse the repercussions of the “second wave” of the crisis, namely the Greek sovereign debt crisis, which rapidly spilled over into the entire eurozone. Part three will build on the issues examined in parts one and two and will discuss the repercussions of both waves of the crisis on the region’s enlargement process and prospects.
The research on the impact of the European Union on its candidate countries has been traditionally framed within the concept of Europeanisation. But the term, notwithstanding two decades of usage, still lacks clarity in its attributes and its referent. Moreover, the statehood of candidate countries has emerged as a prerequisite for its effectiveness, providing no answer for cases of limited statehood and limited Europeanisation. The concept of member-state building, which refers to the EU’s purpose of building functional member states while integrating them, may help reframe the academic discussion on the impact of the EU on candidate countries, particularly in limited statehood contexts, by complementing it with insights from the literature on state building.
The goal of this volume is to explore the EU-integration process in the Western Balkans region during a period of enlargement-abstinence. Articles in this special issue aim to expand knowledge and scholarship in this area, but also to influence policy-led discussions in order to reinvigorate the EU integration process. So, instead of viewing enlargement as the fulfillment of formal criteria, this volume will focus on how and if the enlargement process can overcome the “enlargement fatigue” and skepticism towards the EU membership of the Western Balkans whilst having a transformative effect.