- Armament and disarmament
- Conflict, peace and security
- Peace and development
II. Pending status and statehood issues
The Western Balkans, embracing Albania and most of former Yugoslavia, is going through the third wave of major political rearrangement since the end of the cold war. The first, with the 1995 Dayton General Framework Agreement as its climax, and the second, following the 1999 Kosovo operation and the subsequent departure of leading politicians—Alija Izetbegovic, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman—from power, are now followed by the regulation of pending status and statehood matters. Three main challenges are posed: the timeframe and guarantees that will let Kosovo gain independent statehood, the process of establishing Montenegro’s independence and the relationship of the constituent entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
All three challenges will affect Serbia’s role and status. Following Montenegro’s independence, if Bosnia and Herzegovina consolidates its statehood and if Kosovo gains it in the medium term, Serbia will become considerably smaller and a less central player in the Western Balkans. It is open to question whether it can reconcile itself with such a reality. If Albanian-populated areas associate themselves with the state of Albania in the long run, the Western Balkans may acquire a bipolar structure, with Albania and Serbia potentially competing for regional hegemony. The absence of EU membership prospects for the two states may not be conducive to stability in the Western Balkans. The attention, support and assistance of the world at large, primarily of the EU and the USA, are indispensable for regional stability in the long run.
Dr Pál Dunay (Hungary) is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Euro-Atlantic, Regional and Global Security Project.