Through the history, terms like 'Balkans' and 'balkanization' are used in a negative context, as a geographical area defined by conflicts and divisions, surrounded by the EU Member States.
The Western Balkans region that is part of Europe, but not yet part of the European Union, represents a new 'creation' of the EU. In order for the countries of the Western Balkans to fulfill one of their main aspirations – accession to the EU, they need to improve good neighborly relations and regional cooperation, including in political, economic, social and cultural aspects, and advance reconciliation between their countries and societies. Hence, the transition period related to this, along with promoting and celebrating regions' diversity and values, and the values of the Western democracies, is a process that requires ongoing demonstration of commitments made.
The EU as a supranational institution strives to support countries of the Western Balkans and efforts to foster democratization, regional cooperation and good neighborly relations, including through funding various cross-border projects. Such projects aim to contribute to the economic and political stabilization, security and financial investments. Also, they promote reconciliation between the Western Balkans countries and dealing with the past, and aim to overcome intolerance and national hate rhetorics shown in the past, by transferring knowledge and experience within neighborhood.
EU integration and accession may be a long and bumpy road for the countries of the Western Balkans which requires looking into the future and progressively delivering on reforms, strengthening the rule of law, health and educational systems, with the aim of improving quality of life for the citizens in each country, and of the societies in our region.
Writing for the Balkans