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      The regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and the Open Balkans initiative

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      Academicus International Scientific Journal
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          Abstract

          The paper examines the efforts to enhance regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and how this has increased engagement between the EU and the Western Balkans. The regional initiatives are more present when the European Union (EU) shows little interest in the Western Balkans region. However, these efforts have yet to address all the concerns adequately and have not brought to life tangible results despite many political declarations. One of the most commented initiatives, like the Open Balkans, has caused concern in the region and caused tension between Kosovo and Albania over the past few years. The paper enlightens the challenges of regional cooperation during the last years, the contribution of this process in the integration process, and the role played by Albania. Also, the paper tries to analyze the success and failures of the “Open Balkan” initiative and the Regional Common Market. Furthermore, the paper framework examined the progress of regional cooperation initiatives and the region’s attention to the European integration process. Additionally, the paper seeks to determine whether regional cooperation is a viable alternative for the region or merely an external-driven initiative and the role of the EU in promoting regional cooperation.

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          Carrots, sticks and norms: the EU and regional cooperation in Southeast Europe

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            Geopolitics in the Western Balkans: linkages, leverages and gatekeepers

            With the end of the Cold War, Western Balkans countries have embraced the perspective of integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures, with the exception of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina regarding accession in NATO. The return of international system from hegemonic to competitive followed by the ambiguities that accompany the integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures marked the return of competitors like China, Russia and Turkey in the regional affairs. To map out sources of influence and the context in which foreign interferences affect decision-making and interests, transfer ideas and norms in the region, the paper uses the concept of linkages that facilitate the understanding of opportunities and constrains, benefits and costs resulting from established relationship between Western Balkan countries and different international and regional powers. The paper makes a multi-level investigation of linkages developed between Western Balkans and the leverage of the most influential actors during the last decade, without undermining historical and societal context that favor of disfavor them.
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              The Maastricht Treaty and the accession of the Western Balkans. Reflections at its 30th anniversary over the coherence in the EU integration processes.

              At its 30th anniversary, the Maastricht Treaty remains a milestone in the history and practice of the European Union. This referring to the adhesion process, since the set of conditions that a country must accomplish have been settled and derived by the treaty, but also for the fact that now, after 20 years of entering in force, the Euro, the Union currency, has performed and faced different consecutive challenges, thus becoming observable concerning it effects and role, and as a consequence, its theoretical and practical validity. But there is yet a vast area, in the center of Europe, that is still dragging on its calvary of adhesion, that of the Western Balkans. At this point, considering the processes that the countries of this area have been going through, by pursuing the adhesion path, the analysis of the dominating factors that have determined the trajectory of their EU membership, becomes essential. The paper questions and analyses the validity of the Maastricht Treaty and subsequent criteria for the adhesion of the Western Balkan countries, as well as highlights on the ‘ad-hoc’ criteria and evaluations often applied during the process and their consequences in terms of the attitudes of the Balkan populations and their determination toward the EU and the Western Balkans adhesion.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Academicus International Scientific Journal
                Academicus Journal
                20793715
                23091088
                January 2024
                January 2024
                : 29
                : 191-206
                Affiliations
                [1 ]University of Tirana, Albania
                Article
                10.7336/academicus.2024.29.11
                a7f3c1bb-6860-4401-98c2-c482b235af5f
                © 2024

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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