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The European Union's strategy towards the Western Balkans: Exclusion or integration?

Türkeş, Mustafa
This article analyzes the European Union's strategy towards the Western Balkans as a hegemonic project. The European Commission's strategy is neither total exclusion nor rapid integration. The Commission's aim is to restructure the Western Balkans in line with neoliberalism to prepare the region for the "preincorporation stage." The Commission's major initiatives show that this neoliberal restructuring need not end in full membership but remains an open-ended process. Two components of the Commission's formula, neoliberal economy and democracy, have not fed one another; rather, the opposite has occurred. Local crises have exacerbated and been exacerbated by the Commission's strategy, whereby existing social forces and structures have been dismantled, leading to the reproduction of authoritarianism. Despite the continuously shifting hegemonic discourses of ethnopolitical groups, their ultimate objective is integration with the EU. However, cycles of crises in the region have, in neo-Gramscian terms, undermined the formation of a historic bloc, and thus the EU's hegemonic project is rather daunting.