European institutional models as instruments of conflict resolution in the divided states of the Eur

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The paper examines the cultural, legal, institutional and economic impact of European integration on the south-eastern periphery of the EU as an instrument of conflict resolution.


This study focuses on ‘Europeanisation’ as an instrument of conflict resolution in the south eastern periphery of the EU. By ‘Europeanisation’ we mean the cultural, legal, institutional and economic impact of European integration on domestic structures. The introduction of such institutional mechanisms and processes takes place at formal and informal levels. By European integration we do not only mean accession to the EU, but also participation in the wider European international organisations such as the OSCE, Council of Europe, NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council/Partnership for Peace (EAPC/PfP) and Confederation of Independent States (CIS). All these organisations have their own concepts of Europe.

A distinction has to be made between the role of these institutions, as actor organisations, which are involved in developing policies in the European periphery and framework organisations, which may embed mechanisms favourable to conflict resolution in these regions. This working paper reviews the role of each of these organisations, considering the EU as a very specific hybrid case.

Our project is based on the normative assumption that Europeanisation can act as a decisive factor for conflict resolution in the European periphery. Europeanisation can be defined as a process that “involves the development of formal and informal rules, procedures, norms and practices governing politics at the European, national and subnational levels”. More specifically, our hypothesis is that Europeanisation can contribute to conflict resolution by triggering critical political, security, economic and societal developments in a manner that can positively transform the interests of the conflict parties (e.g. Greece and Turkey recently or Germany and its neighbours after World War II).

Politically and constitutionally, the involvement of European multi-level structures can help transform notions of statehood and sovereignty, facilitating a reconciliation of subject positions. Although multilateral organisations do not impose clear institutional models for constitutional systems, minority protection nor other objectives, they nevertheless offer a framework where the importance of these factors is recognised and where implementation can be discussed. Economically, the involvement of these actors can play key roles in both the short-term (such as for reconstruction and resettlement) and the long-term development of former conflict areas. In terms of security, international peacekeeping and guarantees are often central to long-lasting agreements and conflict resolution. Finally, official processes of Europeanisation can encourage societal development by increasing the respect for the rule of law, pushing back corruption, civilian control of the military and generally bringing civility to business and political relations.

The perceived incentive of Europeanisation can link these official and societal processes and boost the feasibility of reformist policies. A further positive aspect of Europeanisation is that it is based on multilateral organisations and therefore does not impede the realisation of the principle of national self-determination. It can, however, transform the concept of identity by adding the important European dimension to it.

This project intends to analyse the relevance of Europeanisation in four divided states at the periphery of the EU that are locked in unresolved secessionist crises. Cyprus has been divided between its Greek and Turkish Cypriot parts since 1974. Montenegro and Serbia are presently united in a loose State Union, but the process of redefining the institutional relationship still runs the risk of secession. In Moldova, the region of Transdniestria has been de facto independent since the early 1990s. With the war of 1992-93, Abkhazia has de facto seceded from Georgia and a ttempts to resolve the question of its political status have so far failed.

The more peripheral these countries are to Europe, the less powerful the incentives of Europeanisation become. Parallel processes – which we shall call Russification and Pax Americana for short – become more important. The compatibility and risks of inconsistency between the paradigms represented by these three principal third party actors is considered here.

In Section 2, we outline the four cases, the context of their crises and the status of negotiations. We then discuss the present role of Europeanisation (Section 3) and outline taxonomy of institutional alternatives to secession based on Europeanisation (Section 4).

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full studyon the CEPS website.  

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