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Accession incentives for institutional change in post-socialist countries: cross-section and country evidence from NATO enlargement


  • Schweickert, Rainer
  • Melnykovska, Inna
  • Heitmann, Hanno


This paper analyses the transformative power of NATO accession that gains in importance due to the enlargement fatigue of the EU, the EU’s rather weak neighbourhood incentives and the increasing importance of regional security as an incentive for compliance with the institutional standards of democracy and market economy. Econometric cross-country evidence from a hazard model reveals that the entry into NATO’s accession process is mainly driven by neighbourhood and strategic effects rather than foregoing institutional reforms in a candidate-country. While strategic interests also dominated the accession process of Macedonia initially, the case study results reveal the central role of the switch in NATO’s strategy from strategic interest only to a more balanced consideration of institutional reforms, which ‘turned Macedonia around’ in terms of institutional development. Clearly, after this turning point marked by the Ohrid agreement, the effectiveness of NATO’s accession conditionality could be revealed. The switch in NATO’s strategy, rather enforced externally than the result of a well structured debate among NATO members, is of special relevance for the peaceful transition of other post-socialist countries, e.g. Ukraine and Georgia.

Suggested Citation

  • Schweickert, Rainer & Melnykovska, Inna & Heitmann, Hanno, 2010. "Accession incentives for institutional change in post-socialist countries: cross-section and country evidence from NATO enlargement," Kiel Working Papers 1597, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:1597

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas M. Gibler & Jamil A. Sewell, 2006. "External Threat and Democracy: The Role of NATO Revisited," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 43(4), pages 413-431, July.
    2. Rainer Schweickert & Inna Melnykovska & Ansgar Belke & Ingo Bordon, 2011. "Prospective NATO or EU membership and institutional change in transition countries," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 19(4), pages 667-692, October.
    3. Maria L. Di Tommaso & Martin Raiser & Melvyn Weeks, 2007. "Home Grown or Imported? Initial Conditions, External Anchors and the Determinants of Institutional Reform in the Transition Economies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 858-881, April.
    4. Vachudova, Milada Anna, 2005. "Europe Undivided: Democracy, Leverage, and Integration After Communism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199241194.
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    More about this item


    NATO Enlargement; Democratization; Institutions; Transition; Conflict; FYR Macedonia;

    JEL classification:

    • F59 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Other
    • P30 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - General
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations


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