Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Knocking on Europe's Door
In 1999, the European Union created the Stabilisation and Accession Process, SAP, as a framework to help successor states to the former Yugoslavia (and also Albania) move towards and eventually join the EU. (The fifth, Slovenia, was not included in the SAP.)
Ahead of the accession of 10 new EU members on May 1 this year, IWPR presents a package of reports that looks at the mixed progress that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro have made since 1999.
The review is especially timely in light of the European Commission’s surprise decision on April 20 that Croatia was in a fit state to enter membership negotiations – a clear marker for its neighbours that accession can become more than a distant dream.
Each country has its own legacy of conflict to overcome, raising questions about the integrity of the political system, rule of law, and social cohesion. Kosovo’s still unresolved final status is one of a number of factors constraining the growth of constructive regional relationships. These political problems compounds more general structural obstacles to do with weak institutions and unreformed economies.
The specific steps each country has taken – or not taken – to meet the standards required for EU membership provide a useful yardstick for measuring their broader development into mature, viable sovereign states.
IWPR has placed the accession process at the core of its work in the Balkans. We see it as our role to report fairly on the successes and failures, the significant difficulties that remain in many areas, and on the sometimes ambivalent public attitudes to the growing relationship with European institutions.
We focus in particular on the media, which at its best is a motor for swifter movement towards accession and casts a spotlight on those areas where change has been slow; and at its worst can promote a society’s worst instincts and hinder progress. IWPR plays a part in keeping public attention fixed on the future by providing balanced analysis and comment and stimulating open debate.
The following set of reports form a cohesive package marking progress to date. The individual country articles were written by IWPR staff and contributors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro. Two experts on the Balkan’s progress towards the EU provide valuable insights. Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, has kindly provided his perspective on the pitfalls still ahead.
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