Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Crafting a Wider Strategy for Conflict Management in the Neighbourhood? A Comparative Perspective on the European Union's Civilian Missions in Georgia and Kosovo

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Crafting a Wider Strategy for Conflict Management in the Neighbourhood? A Comparative Perspective on the European Union's Civilian Missions in Georgia and Kosovo

Article excerpt

Introduction

The European Union's (EU) "neighbourhood" hosts some of the world's main unresolved conflicts. In the Western Balkans2 external intervention was attempted in two cases - in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo - and outside powers imposed settlements underpinned by internationally-controlled institutions. In the former Soviet space the conflicts became "frozen" after de facto secession, as in the cases of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh. In the Middle East the dominant conflict with recurring violent episodes remains the one between Israel and the Palestinians, with the international community constantly attempting mediation. As the EU developed its foreign and security policy, it became more or less involved in conflict management in each of these cases.

In 2003 the European Security Strategy defined the stabilisation of the EU's neighbourhood as a key priority, soon after the crisis management component of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)3 became operational. As CSDP operations need to relate to broader policy frameworks in order to be successful, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) could serve as possible examples. By deploying CSDP missions in the countries covered by ENP and SAP, the EU indicates both a significant political interest in each particular case and security concerns regarding the unresolved conflicts in its vicinity. Through both ENP and SAP the EU establishes contractual relations with its neighbours, which gives it the opportunity to provide the parties with incentives for negotiating peace. This paper will therefore compare the ENP (the Eastern dimension) and the SAP on the basis of how these macro-policy frameworks can integrate the more specific CSDP crisis management operations. The comparative case-study will analyse the EU involvement in conflict management in the Georgia/'Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Kosovo/Serbia cases, with an emphasis on the CSDP missions it deployed. The objective is to identify common challenges across the two policy frameworks and to explore the perspectives for the emergence of an EU strategy for conflict management in the neighbourhood, based on CSDP operations and their link to existing frameworks for cooperation with third countries.

The literature concerning the EU's involvement in conflict management outside its borders has developed significantly in the last ten years. Some scholars analysed various case studies in order to identify the EU's "Europeanisation" approach to ethno-political/ secessionist conflicts in its geographical proximity4. Others focused on the legal and policy aspects of the EU's performance in conflict prevention, crisis management and peacebuilding5. A comparative approach was used to study the impact of EU contractual relations on conflict resolution in several cases from the neighbourhood6. A more recent strand of literature addressed the EU's motivations for involving in crisis management through CSDP or the strategies of non-involvement ("stealth intervention") in conflict resolution in the former Soviet space3. Also, scholars tried to identify the main elements which determine the EU's success - or lack thereof - as a "global conflict manager", targeting various regions of the world9. But comparative perspectives on EU policy frameworks for the neighbourhood remain scarce, as the literature on EU in conflict management usually focuses on intra-region case-studies, individual ones or multiple case-studies emphasising the type of conflict (e g. ethno-political) rather than the EU frameworks for dealing with them. The paper tries to address this gap, based on the belief that it is important to understand the commonalities and differences of EU policy frameworks for engaging its neighbours. Hence, this paper takes a horizontal and sectoral perspective, analysing ENP and SAP comparatively, as wider policy frameworks potentially creating linkages with CSDP missions. …

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