Perspectives Southeastern Europe #3: 'International Community' and the Limits of External Intervention

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Any international intervention has crucial limits: It can change the rules of the game, but it cannot empower local players. The articles collected in this issue of Perspectives Southeast Europe tell stories about the current challenges of international intervention in Albania,  Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia.

The external intervening factors (the so-called international community) can to some extent further the rule of law, but not democracy, understood as the self-government of the people, because the people or demos is in reality the society, with all its inequalities of wealth and power, which may or may not have developed productive relations that make it autonomous and powerful enough to counter the political structure in the democratic game.

When facing the limits of their capacity for intervention, the international agents may insist on conditionality and principles, or they may become implicated in local political games and compromises. Or they could look further to broaden their scope of potential partners and go beyond deals with national elites, opening more space for active civic participation.


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Date of Publication
November 2016
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Southeastern Europe (Belgrade, Sarajevo)
Number of Pages
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Table of contents

Introductory note by Srđan Dvornik

Aiding Democracy from Abroad

  • Talking the Talk and Walking the "Unlocked Path" Walk: EU, BiH and the Quality of Democracy by Tijana Cvjetićanin
  • The Macedonian Political Crisis – EU Mechanisms Tested by Malinka Ristevska Jordanova
  • The EU’s Bosnia Initiative, the Reform Agenda and the Problem with Transparency by Bodo Weber
  • Macedonia’s Tiresome Transition Story: Euro-Atlantic Integration by Nano Ružin

International Involvement and the Rule of Law

  • (Mis)rule of Law by Nina Kisić
  • Bosnia: A Constitution in Distress by Vedran Džihić
  • Macedonia: Stability Through Democracy! by Bojan Marichikj
  • Istanbul Convention: Serbia and Croatia by Jovana Gligorijević

Expectations and Disillusion

  • Misty Gains from Outside: Economic Enterprises and their Magic by Ildiko Erdei
  • Misunderstood Reality and Missed Opportunities by Zlatko Dizdarević
  • Skin-deep Reforms vs. Thick-skinned Structures by Vedran Horvat
  • Waiting for Houdini: The International Community and Bosnia and Herzegovina by Miroslav Živanović

Normalisation with/out the International Community

  • Media System in B&H: How the International Community Intervention has Failed by Lejla Turčilo
  • Remembering the Expulsions from Krajina 1991-1995 by Vesna Teršelič
  • Environmental Protection in Albania by Lavdosh Ferruni
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