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International Community’s Approach to Western Balkans: In Search of Stability and Security

Abstract

The article presents research on the international community’s engagement in the countries of the Western Balkans in the past and their possible approach in the future. The focus of our research is on the functioning of mechanisms through which the international community performs certain tasks in the region. These interventions are primarily political, in the form of conferences, political programmes, consultations, pressures and continuous persuasion. Economic initiatives follow afterwards. By using different reform approaches, international institutions try to improve cooperation with the European Union (EU) and countries such as the USA, Russia, Turkey and China. Our research attempts to identify possible methods and new solutions for individual cases of conflict in Western Balkans countries, especially where the international community is actively involved. On this basis, we created a more holistic approach. The application of these measures could make the necessary reforms of the future easier. Our approach emphasises all the elements of security that are essential to the stability of the region and for the prevention of conflicts in the future.

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North Macedonia and its Neighbours: Challenges and Perspectives

Abstract

In this paper, the author has analysed the perspectives of Macedonia’s new foreign policy concept regarding its neighbours since the second half of 2017. Therefore, he points to Macedonia’s numerous bilateral issues, primarily about its name with neighbouring Greece. The paper also includes a review of other open issues with Bulgaria and Albania, which jeopardize its path towards the EU and NATO membership. The signing of two crucial bilateral agreements with Bulgaria (2017) and Greece (2018) has significantly changed its foreign policy position and accelerated the realization of its Euro-Atlantic perspective. Additionally, Macedonia has improved relations with Albania and Kosovo. Although the relations with Serbia have oscillated, they cannot, in general, be labelled as bad.

The author concludes that the determination of the new Macedonian political elite to resolve the accumulated bilateral issues with its neighbours is very significant in the broader regional context. It also represents a stimulus for the rest of the Western Balkans.

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Rethinking Realism and Constructivism Through the Lenses of Themes and Ontological Primacy

Abstract

If integrative pluralism in international relations theorising is the way forward, how can we still maintain some type of demarcation between pre-existing paradigms in order to not throw the baby out with the bath water? The notions of themes and ontological primacy provide a useful intervention in this regard. They both link realism and constructivism yet at the same time differentiate between the two enough to allow for the original free-standing paradigm to maintain its veracity and usefulness as an explanatory tool to explain the international order. This article promotes the idea that realism and constructivism engage with many similar themes; it is their ontologies and methodologies that are the key points of departure and are worth being further explored. The article concludes that taking the notion of ontological primacy seriously allows for much needed theoretical pluralism, while effectively maintaining the foundational moorings of longstanding international relations theories.

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Why does cooperation work or fail? The case of EU-US sanction policy against Iran

Abstract

In the article, we explore the factors which brought about the transatlantic coordination of the policy of imposing sanctions on Iran. We will mainly focus on the events in the 21st century when the new incentives for cooperation appeared due to the growing concern over the development of Iran’s nuclear programme. Considering the capabilities of using the tools of economic statecraft and diplomacy, we claim that the EU-US cooperation can be termed a co-leadership. The assessment and the reasons for the transatlantic break-up on this matter during the presidency of Donald Trump was examined using the concept of relative gains. We evaluate to what extent the initial goals were achieved in practice, and we also try to predict the possible consequences of the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

As to whether the effectiveness of the sanctions through the cooperation has been enhanced, the answer is ambivalent. On the one hand, the cooperating transatlantic partners managed to coerce Iran through isolating the country from international economic contacts and negotiated the JCPOA. On the other hand, Trump’s renouncement of this agreement brought many negative consequences and undermined the earlier joint effort.

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ISDS Regimes and Democratic Practice: Creating Conflict of Interests between Governments, Investors and Local Populations

Abstract

The recent debate over the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) regimes of international arbitration has resulted in concerted efforts aimed mainly at protecting the rights of states to regulate, improving transparency of proceedings and eliminating inconsistency in decision making of the tribunals. While the existing scholarly work frequently addresses issues of the relationship between the existing investment regimes and good governance in general, increased attention is rarely paid to the effects that investment arbitration has on democratic practice. The article applies an “action-based” approach to democracy, in order to analyse the role that the ISDS regimes play in exacerbating conflicts between the local populations, foreign investors and governments. The analysis leads to a conclusion that the ISDS regimes create incentives for the governments and foreign investors to disregard sound democratic practice. The article represents an attempt to move the discussion about the ISDS regimes away from the question of legitimacy of the regimes to the question of the impacts that the regimes have in practice.

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Reconciling after Transitional Justice: When Prosecutions are not Enough, the Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Abstract

The concept and study of transitional justice has grown exponentially over the last decades. Since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after the end of the Second World War, there have been a number of attempts made across the globe to achieve justice for human rights violations (International Peace Institute 2013: 10). How these attempts at achieving justice impact whether or not societies reconcile, continues to be one of the key discussions taking place in a transitional justice discourse. One particular context where this debate continues to rage on is in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many scholars argue that the transitional justice process and mechanism employed in Bosnia and Herzegovina have not fostered inter-group reconciliation, but in fact caused more divisions. To this end, this article explores the context of transitional justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina from a unique perspective that focuses on the need for reconciliation and healing after transitional justice processes like war crime prosecutions. This article explores why the prosecuting of war criminals has not fostered reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and how the processes have divided Bosnian society further. Additionally, this article presents the idea of state-sponsored dialog sessions as a way of dealing with the past and moving beyond the divisions of retributive justice.

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Same Old (Macro-) Securitization? A Comparison of Political Reactions to Major Terrorist Attacks in the United States and France

Abstract

After the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, the French government reacted swiftly by declaring a state of emergency. This state of emergency remained in place for over two years before it was ended in November 2017, only after being replaced by the new anti-terror legislation. The attacks as well as the government’s reactions evoked parallels to 9/11 and its aftermath. This is a puzzling observation when taking into consideration that the Bush administration’s reactions have been criticized harshly and that the US ‘War on Terror’ (WoT) was initially considered a serious failure in France. We can assume that this adaption of the discourse and practices stems from a successful establishment of the WoT macro-securitization. By using Securitization Theory, we outline the development of this macro-securitization by comparing its current manifestation in France against the backdrop of its origins in the US after 9/11. We analysed securitizing moves in the discourses, as well as domestic and international emergency measure policies. We find extensive similarities with view of both; yet there are differing degrees of securitizing terrorism and the institutionalisation of the WoT in the two states. This suggests that the WoT narrative is still dominant internationally to frame the risk of terrorism as an existential threat, thus enabling repressive actions and the obstruction of a meaningful debate about the underlying problems causing terrorism in the first place.

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Being a Small State: Discussion on the Role of Size

Abstract

This paper discusses theoretical debates regarding small states and their foreign policy and also argues that research should include more analysis of small states’ identities and the dominant meanings related to being a small state. Using poststructuralistic theoretical perspective and discourse analysis, two empirical cases – Lithuania and New Zealand – are analysed with attention paid to the meanings of smallness and the ways these meanings are constructed. Empirical analysis follows with suggestions for how future research of small states could be improved.

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The Long Road from Neoliberalism to Neopopulism in ECE: The Social Paradox of Neopopulism and Decline of the Left

Abstract

We live in a “post-neoliberal world”, as it has been discussed in the mainstream literature, but the vital link between neoliberalism and neopopulism has been rarely discussed. Nowadays in international political science it is very fashionable to criticise the long neoliberal period of the last decades, still its effect on the rise of neopopulism has not yet been properly elaborated. To dig deeper into social background of neopopulism, this paper describes the system of neoliberalism in its three major social subsystems, in the socio-economic, legal-political and cultural-civilizational fields. The historical context situates the dominant period of neoliberalism between the 1970s in the Old World Order (OWO) and in the 2010s in the New World Order (NWO). In general, neoliberalism’s cumulative effects of increasing inequality has produced the current global wave of neopopulism that will be analysed in this paper in its ECE regional version. The neopopulist social paradox is that not only the privileged strata, but also the poorest part of ECE’s societies supports the hard populist elites. Due to the general desecuritization in ECE, the poor have become state dependent for social security, yet paradoxically they vote for their oppressors, widening the social base of this competitive authoritarianism. Thus, the twins of neoliberalism and neopopulism, in their close connections—the main topic of this paper—have produced a “cultural backlash” in ECE along with identity politics, which is high on the political agenda.

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