The EU v. Balkan and Eastern European Countries: Unwelcome Neighbours or Potential Members?
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, as well as the collapse of the communist regimes in the wider Eastern European and former USSR area, almost all of the respective states, looked upon the European Union as the only way of survival of their economies and their fragile democratic systems. U responded in different ways which can be categorized as follows: a)It incorporated the majority of the Eastern European States, through the enlargement process (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania) and has entered into accession negotiations with others (Croatia, Turkey). b)It initiated bilateral relations with the Russian Federation as an important partner. c)It developed the ENP and more recently the EaP to institutionalize a process of enhanced economic and political cooperation with the respective states aiming at bringing them closer to the EU, while preparing some of them for future membership, but also offering an alternative solution to certain states that the EU is not willing to offer full membership (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan). d)It formulated the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) specifically designed to meet the needs of the Western Balkan states and gradually incorporate them.The paper explores the institutional and political framework of the abovementioned developments, the potential outcome for the Balkan and eastern European states and the problematic aspects for the EU and the other parties involved.
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