Review of the Economic Development in the Western Balkan States. OSW STUDIES No. 19, 2005-08-10


Foreword. Ten years after the end of the armed conflict, the Western Balkans1 are still being considered as the “land of the unsuccessful policies”. Enormous financial and technical assistance transferred by the International Community has not managed to meet the goals of integrating the region within itself as well as within the European markets. Explanation for this can be found in the consequences of the war and the remnants of the socialist state. The complexity of current institutional/ political arrangements combined with the limited willingness of the regional actors to introduce and implement much of the needed reforms have additionally contributed to the current state of affairs. The economy and politics in the region intertwine to an extent as probably in none of the other post-communist states. Therefore, the paper presents the recent economic performance of the Western Balkan countries in the light of their limited institutional development and lack of efficient regional cooperation. The paper discusses the importance of foreign direct investments’ inflow for the economic growth of the “latecomer” states and presents major drawbacks which limit the influx of the foreign capital to the region. It presents private sector activity and regional cooperation programmes. It discusses the role of the International Community with the main focus on the activities of the European Union. The EU is examined not only as the main aid donor but more importantly as a foreign trade partner. Furthermore, it analyses the impact of the presence of the International Community and their strategies towards the region with the special attention to the EU. Finally, it presents recommendations for the improvement of the economic performance in light of the enhanced political cooperation between the EU and the region

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