This book is concerned with international intervention in the Balkans since the Dayton Peace Accords of November 1995. 1 During the years since the ending of the Bosnian war, outside intervention in the region has continued to grow, most openly in NATO’s 1999 aerial bombardment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The aim of this Introduction is to place this action and other recent international activity within the region into a broader historical context. This is because post-1995 international intervention cannot be considered in isolation from the expectations and anxieties engendered by past incursions into the Balkans, a number of which helped establish the norms of intervention and non-intervention on a global scale. A brief history of international intervention in the region will elucidate some of the reasons for intervention (or non-intervention), the aims of those who intervene and the consequences of their actions, which often differed from their aspirations.
The chief argument will be that until recently there have been remarkable continuities in the approach of the western world towards the Balkans, with multilateral intervention largely being driven by a desire to contain crisis and maintain the status quo in a region seen as lying on the periphery of Europe. Only from the mid-1990s, with the exception of Greece, where the policy was prefigured earlier, have there been signs that this approach might be replaced by a qualitatively different one based on contractual engagement and a possibility of eventual integration into the European mainstream. However, the meaning of integration for the Balkan space remains unclear. Within the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and the Stabilization and Association Process there are suggestions that it could eventually lead to EU accession and, certainly, this is the dream of many within the region. However, with the EU already facing the challenge of an unprecedented enlargement into Central Europe and the Baltic, the likelihood of this occurring within the short or even the medium term remains doubtful. Alternatives to membership have been canvassed, and European Commission President, Romano Prodi, has even floated the idea of some form of ‘virtual membership’ for the states of the region, but, if this is the case, will integration itself be anything less than ‘virtual’? 2
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Publication information: Book title: International Intervention in the Balkans since 1995. Contributors: Peter Siani-Davies - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 1.
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