Sunday, May 19, 2024


It is not known whether the process of integration of the Balkans into the EU will bring about the Europeanization of the region or the Balkanization of Europe.

Author: Xhelal Neziri

In general, the countries and peoples of the Balkans have a selective attitude towards integration into the European Union (EU): they want to be part of the Union only because of the benefits that membership brings in the form of high wages, a solid standard of living, the rule of law, quality education, etc. But problems arise when European values, such as democracy, freedom, equality and human dignity, must be accepted and cultivated.

The European model for solving problems between states in the region is not so popular even among intellectuals, let alone among the political elite. We had to wait decades to finally solve the name problem between North Macedonia and Greece in 2018, while the history problem with Bulgaria is difficult to solve. It is not even known when the problems between Serbia and Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Greece, etc. will be finally closed. Rule of law, democracy, equality, free market, human rights and freedoms are a frequent topic and problem of domestic politics in these countries. Therefore, it is not known whether the process of integration of the Balkans into the EU will bring about the Europeanization of the region or the Balkanization of Europe.

Focusing only on funds and concrete material benefits, aspiring countries often forget the fact that the EU is the most perfect project of liberal democracy so far. Membership in the Union is achieved neither by occupation, nor by pressure, nor by conditioning, but by application. Each of the states applies for membership, committing to accept and implement the policies of the Union. Decision-making within the Union is done by consensus, which means the equal weight of the voice of each of the member states.

The EU is a project that for the first time in history brought a 70-year period of peace and cooperation between European peoples and nations. This peace and mutual trust contributed to the creation of a single market with countless opportunities for the economy, turning the EU into one of the strongest economies in the world.

The Balkans is not sufficiently prepared for true Europeanization, which means accepting a new, political, supranational and multiethnic identity, which will unite all the inhabitants of the European continent. The EU is based on a system of values ​​agreed upon through the adoption of a series of treaties. This set of values ​​defines and shapes the European identity.

In the context of globalization, the European identity is considered as an identity that stands between the global and the national. Globalization as a process of integration of people from all over the world in the economic, social-cultural and political dimension often interferes and is contrary to the constructed national or ethnic identity. At a time when economic, political, cultural and social connections are gaining momentum and technology is reducing the distance between people and, as Marshall McLuhan says, making the world a “Global Village”, the question is whether national identity will survive and be resistant to all these global processes, or it will undergo changes in all dimensions. The Balkan countries are the most closed countries on this topic, while their ethnocentric approach and national conservatism makes that European identity very distant.

If the aim of pan-Europeans is to create a strong European identity which will unite all the inhabitants of the Union, the aim of globalization is the gradual construction of a new identity, according to which all people of the world from all groups ethnic, national, religious or racial belong to the same community, who share the same moral values. So what did Socrates say in ancient Greece: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world”.

The Balkans are far from Europeanization. Younger generations are growing up with the same dose of nationalism as their predecessors. The Internet has not contributed enough to bring people together, as it has done at the European and even the world level. On the contrary, fake news and extreme nationalism turn the Internet into a powerful tool for radicalizing younger generations.

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