"Challenges and Opportunities in the Western Balkans and its path to EU integrationEditor: Fotini Bellou
The European Union considers the Western Balkans as a region suffering from certain vulnerabilities while working on its Europeanization process aiming at entering the EU as full members. The European Union (EU) has recently recommitted itself to building the resilience of the states in the region by struggling to tackle their vulnerabilities in light of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 which has started to play a destabilizing role in the region. The Western Balkans region, apparently a fragile area, enmeshed in post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding after the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s wrestles to reach its European future. Different structural and consequential factors, both internal and external, have rendered the countries in the region difficult cases to move from economic stagnation and ‘state capture’ towards good governance and economic development. The war in Ukraine marked a watershed moment for global security with uncertain repercussions also in the Western Balkans. Russia’s impulse to accelerate but also to instrumentalize its historical influence in the Western Balkans appears at the moment a disturbing or even distractive factor towards the regions’s smooth Europeanization process. The role of other European powers such as China and Turkey also indicates that the Europeanization process of the region can further be challenged by powers seeking to pursue their interest in the region which may not always be commensurate with European and local priorities.
The aim of the volume is to discuss both internal and external challenges that threaten to obstruct the Europeanization process of the region while at the same time to evaluate the newly emerged strategic landscape as a dynamic momentum that need not to be wasted in midst of bureaucratic inconsistencies, transatlantic misconceptions or European hesitancies and thus produce policy deliverables in the direction of integrating the countries in the region in the EU.
"EU security: From Strategic Compass to Deterrence Strategic, operational and institutional perspectivesEditor: Fotini Bellou
The efforts by the EU to effectively implement the Global Security Strategy’ its consequent Strategic Compass in order to strengthen its global posture but also provide security on its territory has taken a very demanding posture in light of the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Consequently, Eastern Europe as well as the Western Balkans, as key regions in the EU’s neighbourhood, have also unveiled their vulnerabilities in light of different regional revisionisms and competition. In addition, EU’s relations with China and India have to be reconsidered through the prism of international peace and security, both receiving serious contestations. At the same time, more immediate security issues such as, foreign intervention, disinformation, or even state aggression are bewildering the EU which has to revisit them under the prism of fatal military aggression and revisionism stemming from Russia. Is the EU prepared to face its immediate and wider security issues? Is the Strategic Compass a sufficient enough strategic document to direct a galvanized build up of EU’s readiness to provide security and defence for its peoples, its member states and to its wider neighbourhood? The Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has rendered international law a strongly contested area, threatened to be reduced to a mere piece of paper. Is this going to seriously challenge normative Europe or it is going to calibrate EU’s normative standing with a geopolitical calibre favouring defence and deterrence politics? Russia’s aggression has also been acting as a high-efficiency filter through which most issues related to EU’s objective to augment its international posture have to be revisited especially taking into consideration the current NATO rejuvenation and its thorough defensive posture overhaul. Is the EU ready to formulate policies of deterrence?
The book proposal is based on material provided by a number of conferences taking place in the context of a specific Jean Monnet Project discussing different issues of European Security, covering a time frame of almost two years. All contributions revolve around strategic, institutional and operational issues that affect European Security with an eye on the efforts of the EU to empower its posture as a global actor in an international context that is under flux. At the time of writing this proposal Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched producing a number of watershed changes in the context of European security considerations. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underscored the salience of the ongoing debate on how to strengthen the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) but also its general strategic standing in a global context in which state’s aggression, revisionisms and radicalization imperil the fundamentals of the current world order.