EU’s grinding of Balkan claws: Pejorative linguistic connotations at EU enlargement to Western Balkans

INTRODUCTION Three years ago I took part in a youth exchange in Subotica, Vojvodina, Serbia where future challenges and opportunities of Western Balkans’s EU membership were the main issue. Slovenia was already the EU member and I pointed out some critical approaches to the topic. When naming EU as a kind of mythological community, my


Three years ago I took part in a youth exchange in Subotica, Vojvodina, Serbia where future challenges and opportunities of Western Balkans’s EU membership were the main issue. Slovenia was already the EU member and I pointed out some critical approaches to the topic. When naming EU as a kind of mythological community, my Serbian and Bosnian peers opposed me with the argument that my viewpoints were different simply because Slovenia was already a full member. For this group of youth EU membership is – still – symbolical and definite exit out of misery, poverty, economical backwardness and insignificant role on the European map. But on the other side, European Union does not seem to yearn for Western Balkans countries very much, as they see more challenges then solutions in them. Eurobarometer2009 (Eurobarometer 72, 43-44) research for instance, shows disapproval of EU enlargement to Western Balkans by most of the respondents from Germany, Luxembourg, France, Netherland, Belgium, Finland and Austria. The most disturbing position gained Albania; the less Croatia.

However, findings are not surprising at all. The analyses of official documents and European politicians’ speeches are usually lacking of positive aspects of enlargement towards Balkans; even in the words that were intended to encourage them. Public perceives them as relevant, objective and loyal source as soon as their speeches are summarized in a different media. And the issue opened here is not concerning media; even they use to take over all responsibilities for the negative attitudes to the enlargement to Western Balkans. In fact, they are usually nothing more but messengers.  EU representatives create public’s big picture, with distributing their own stand-points to the region. The latter usually bases on some sloppy knowledge, often supported with different political motives, than on an objective research and region observing. Due to their self-evident positive position among most European citizens lack of critical perceiving is rather the rule than exception. Such distribution and perceiving must be concerning because of its selected history events: in their speeches, programs or texts last Balkan’s wars are of the great importance. On the other side, there is no word about decades of successfully ran multiculturalism. They expose ethnical tensions from the last few years, but forget long history of ethnic insignificance. After all, the region invented its own multicultural politic, named brotherhood and unity, and was practicing it in its everyday life until ethnic struggles in 1990s broke out.

All these issues are labeling the region with connotations of cruel, uncivilized and conflict cultures. In relation to latest Balkan ethnic conflicts, EU pictures itself as a blessed mother, who has only one, pure aim: to pull the region out of the mud of dark history. The relationship between EU and Western Balkans is not equivalent, nor mutual. Again and again, every act shows up that there is nothing like what Western Balkans can offer to EU in return. Let us not pretend – the region has strong economic and political problems, escorting the end of the war, as well as continuous internal disagreements.  In that case external help is undoubtedly a very pleasant and required move, but it is hard to believe that it would be flourishing, too. EU engages from a distance and the everyday discourse expresses much fear that recent Balkans conflicts – of multiethnic, religious, autocratic government and nationalistic origins – would extend to the whole EU area. As pointed out above, this region has long multicultural history, even longer and older than itself Europe has. Despite the totalitarian regime, its cosmopolitan culture has been much more developed and practiced than in any other region of the Eastern Bloc. In fact, conflicts continuing today have started when Yugoslavia has stopped its own political and social way of live and has tried to adopt Western patterns of social organization – nationalism. EU vehemently ignores this crucial history move and takes a distance from it. And even though it feels that Balkan’s should be the Europe’s story in its happily ever after story. However, it is hard to believe, that there are chances for those who are already-Europeans, i.e. members of EU countries, to see Balkans, its people and culture in an alternative and non-discriminative perspective as long as their opinions relies on pejorative EU representatives’ language. To get there, Balkans will have to pass many tests to win its neutral perception back, quoting EU. With that kind of approach negative stereotypes and attitudes to enlargement processes to Western Balkans among EU citizens are at least empowered if not insulting. For sure it does not help the region in any way to approach the EU faster.

The essay consists of three parts where three ways of pejorative language in regards of the Balkans are presented. I analyzed speeches of EU government’s representatives[1] who are responsible or in any other way involved in EU enlargement to Western Balkans region during the period of last few years. As discussed above, public opinion often rely on their general attitude toward enlargement process to the region which is later dispensed through media. Especially in the time of global economic depression such enlargement and all political changes in general are observed in suspicious and reserved way. That is also what latest results from Eurobarometer show very obviously. EU representatives have a great power to get the Western Balkans closer to European citizen. With hesitating and suspecting on the other side, they make former EU member to feel uncomfortable and averse to further EU enlargement.

The article in general is keen to emphasize myths of »brave new (European) world«, which are hot again in times of EU enlargement to South-East Europe. Media is not in focus of this discourse analysis; but EU representatives’ statements and speeches, attracting great media publicity with reproducing stereotypes and intercultural cracks. Thorough exposed statements and opinions of EU representatives I would like to warn about their importance in the process of media transferring and in the enlargement processes in general. Many of European citizens do not have any contact with the region of Western Balkans itself so their whole attitudes and further representations are often based barely on the official programs introduced through different media tools.

In the first chapter I am focusing on re-naming of the region, especially how and why the switch from South-East Europe to Western Balkans was required. Namely, Western Balkans has no positive or even neutral meaning compared to South-East Europe term. In this chapter I am pointing out also the non-existence of all other parts of Balkan; there is surprisingly no Eastern, Southern of Northern Balkan on the actual geopolitical map. For instance, there was no word about Eastern Balkans in 2007 when Bulgaria and Romania joined EU. Western Balkans is therefore a newly invented term and I am trying to find out what it covers and what connotations surrounded it.

Secondly, I am discussing the image of benefactor Europe,[2] personalized construction of European Union as community of our common future and as the binary opposition of anxious and turbulent Balkans. European Union adores being a big rescuer: in its mission Balkan has suffered great losses and the only way to go on is the EU and NATO joining. I absolutely do not stand that such attitude is a priori negative and even oppressive. But with all terms of aid in its official programs it is clear that the relation between both regions is not balanced. And consequently it is the European Union which sets the rules of the game. With respecting these rules, Western Balkans bargains for the promised secure and stable future. In this article quasi-altruistic scenario of EU enlargement will be criticized as forced conversion of particular Balkan cultures to European way of life.The border between absolute Europeanization and necessary integration is very weak. Being a part of EU means taking into account specific economic and social standards and regarding fixed way of development. Representatives promise EU’s help if Western Balkans verify their absolute competence of accepting such gift. I am focusing mainly to unbalanced relationship between forces and question why Western Balkans – even if they should play the main role – often do not participate in the most essential parts as well.

And at last but not least: peace and stabilization pacts are seen as a part of neo-colonization processes of the Western Balkans area where EU is not just the neutral and helping protagonist but has its own, partly hidden agenda.  Representatives emphasize grant for the save and stable future. Although behind the EU representatives’ speeches the main issue is rather the security of the EU than Western Balkans.


Let us start with the name. Erhard Busek, Austrian politician, coordinator of Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe until the summer of 2008, can be the eloquent cue with his statement: »Every state which wants to be successfully integrated into the Europe, has to deny the word Balkan and change it with the syntagm of East-European« (in Racanović 2008, 30). This argumentation resembles to one of the medieval scholars who firmly believed that existence was inseparably linked to a name (Le Goff in Petrović 2009, 28); it is suggested that the name Balkan has had too many negative connotations (with the emphasis on its violent history) to be a part of Europe. Quoting Busek: in European Union, this staged and bright star, there is »… no place for exoticism. Particular cultural places must be treated with western sensibility« (ibid). The predominant European perspective of the Balkans remains in the frames of orientalism, even though it has gained a status of something in the middle, »something not yet Europe, or not quite European, but on its way to European integration«(Belloni 2009, 35). This is the prevailing way in which Balkans are represented, perceived and studied still nowadays. With the label Western Balkans region has gained political and/or geopolitical connotation, too. Tunjić explains that Western Balkan states as well as Eastern ones were in existence also before; but only in geographic terms (Tunjić 2006, 168-169). With the newly coined Western Balkans term the ex-Yugoslav region continues to be constructed as a questionable Other – negatively, but crucially labeled by the struggles in 1990s. However, insisting on the previous name might be even worse in that context. Name switch announce the new era, the Balkans future in Europe. Re-naming is the first step to cultural and political space transformation per se. Images connected with Balkan and the name itself seem to be contradictory with what Europe would preserve. Re-naming to South-Europe includes Europe in its name. It is supposed to be the most fundamental step to become a part of Europe for immediate adoption of European identity and, on the other hand, for immediate erase of dreadful history. »If the region is South-Eastern Europe when the wars are over« states Francis (1999, 127) »and The Balkans during their duration, we might hope that the former term will prevail. But for peace to prevail the region must be attended to whatever its name«.

South-East label as such reminds of orientalism, something-versus-west and direct binary opposition. It labels something not-developed, not-civilized, not-westernized and ultimately also not-Christianized (Balkan Islam for instance). It is »internal Other« (Petrović 2009, 21), always presented like an integrated whole on the one side vis-à-vis united, unified Europe on the other side. Double Balkan’s identity is in total contradiction: it supposes to be an entity of totally quarreled ethnic groups, which could never cooperate unless involving of exterior forces; on the other side, Balkans is set up like a place with one common cultural and political way of life.

The relationship between various Balkan states (similar yet different) is, to an extent, replicated in the perceived correlation between the Balkans as a whole and the rest of Europe, which again is one characterized by familiarity overlaid with distance. The simultaneous proximity and distance of the Balkans (the point of reference, geographical and cultural, being Western Europe), the sense that they somehow constitute the “outsider within (Fleming 2000).

The label Europe in the South-Eastern Europe term at the same time announces that the space, even if located in the South-East, has great chances to lose all this predisposing not-s and start a new, European era. But not all countries have been blessed by total Europeanization. Ex-Yugoslav countries plus Albania and minus Slovenia remain Balkan officially. Romania and Bulgaria still have Eastern and oriental status, yet they are already de-Balkanized. On contrary, Western Balkans area earns kind of Western, but through words of Busek, preserves »Balkan sensibility«.

The phrase Western Balkans contains certain perversion. For Balkans has European effects, it offers a vision of Europe as healthy, comprehensive, prosperative and tolerant community. It is a point in a half way to dreams, distance from East to become West, idealized West. It is a return of rejected Balkans, a return of powder keg back to Europe (Racanović 2008, 31).

The most important question here is about non-political and non-cultural implications of tangible distance between South-East Europe and Western Balkans. As mentioned in the introduction: there is no data about Romania and Bulgaria as players in Eastern Balkans. Moreover, Romania and Bulgaria have never or rarely be observed like Balkan’s countries; even in geographically definition they are located in the east part of the Peninsula. Enlargement to Romania and Bulgaria was enlargement to East Europe and that is all. Why there is no such syntagms as Western Balkans also for the North, East or the South Balkan is the question without answer. It is than obvious that »Western Balkans« is nothing but EU’s geopolitical casuistic artifice in seeking its strategic dimension (Tunjić, 2006).

How are we to define an area or a community? It must have certain shared characteristics, notably established boundaries, geographical and non-geographical, that are recognized and recognizable; only geography on its own is not sufficient – geography is not destiny (Schöpflin 1999, 67). Especially in political discourse, Western Balkans totally lost its geographical identity. As mentioned above, the term Western Balkans has replaced the term South-Eastern Europe »which was used during 1990s to denote the countries plagued by ethnic conflicts« (Petrović 2009, 28). The label Western Balkans must be questioned because of its essentialism that presupposes Balkans’s conflict nature. The name was coined in the 1996 and has been used since 1999 especially for the countries of »Balkan minus Greece, Romania and Bulgaria« (Berzani 2008, 17). It is obvious that extraordinary synonymous for the »political violence, ethnic conflicts and fragmentation of states« (Simić 2001, 13) was required. Nowadays the name covers the geopolitically determined territory of »organized crime and total disobedience in the field of human and minority rights«, state Rusila(2009).

Re-naming is a first step, a first sign of new era. There, in the new Balkan community, everybody will forgive common negative history: all political conflicts and violence. It is the end of Balkan-style (Abramowitz and Hurlburt 2002, 2) history because there is a »great interest to end Yugoslav crisis« (Rupel 2008, 16). And it cannot be ended as far as Balkans are named Balkans and their identity is Balkan-like. That is why the name is so important.


In a way this is just banal and simple political game but rules are clear: the one who has the monopoly sets them up. Autonomy is not supposed, neither advisable. Sometimes, second chance is given to the loser. Graham Avery, expert from the European political studies center, gives second chance to Balkan countries: »In accordance with EU legislation every state has the right to request for membership in the Unity, likewise Balkan countries. And EU has the moral liability to help them to enter the 21st century« (in Kocbek 2007). In the 21st century savages from the Third world are not like in 19th from Africa and other non-white part of the world. Somewhere in the south of Europe a small savage piece remains. Joining EU may be the last chance, the last option to civilize and acculturate it. If the Balkans is the »birthplace of EU foreign policy« (Ashton in Leviev-Sawyer 2010) it may be also playground for the future planning. And no matter how intensively Catherine Ashton, actual EU high representative for foreign affairs and security, assures potential members that »more than anywhere else, it is there where we cannot afford to fail« (ibid), negative premonition about the truth in Tunjić (2006, 169) statement seems true: » [Balkans] remains a bunch of weak and small countries, in the powers’ strategically important intersection area, a region of exclusions and limitations«. My discussion about Balkans as convenient playgrounds was encouraged by the constant repetition of the same pattern, which could be found in the media reports: EU representatives always take over active roles, while Western Balkans mostly the passive ones. In the Western Balkans there are no, so called, high representatives but they arrive there from EU. Brown and Attenborough (2007, 7) describe the playing with the region at the end of this paragraph:

The process has been far from painless. The need to rise to EU standards in every policy area has imposed great burdens on all the Western Balkan states. Even withconsiderable EU support, financial and otherwise, progress has been uneven. Yet overall the EU’s tried and tested carrot and stick approach has delivered dividends.

The case with »the carrot and stick« determines EU’s role once again as a misstress in her mission to raise a group of messy Balkans; and due to their immature character the aculturation to the orderly one would be a significant part of this nurture. Aculturation might sound like an extreme standpoint, yet Greece foreign minister is very straightforward: »Through culture and education, we can fundamentally transform the Balkans« (2000).[3] And yet: »And they want to share their future with us.[4] Now is the time for us to answer. That answer must be a strong yes« (ibid). It seems pretty inconceivable how to combine these two totally opposed attitudes: there is Western Balkans who tries to join the EU and there is EU who has to help in this process. Western Balkans itself permanently and with obvious purpose stops the process with multiplicity of boycotts and ignorance to the EU instructions. Moreover, European Union’s approach is not just a pure help that consequently causes this occasional but strong boycotts. At the very end, the whole enlargement process is covered with hazy mess without any precise direction, axiomatic aims or at least correct information. Who exactly opposes the enlargement to the Western Balkans? The citizens? The media? Politicians? What is the real strength of Balkan countries in the whole story?

Brown and Attenborough (2007, 7) amplify  the EU importance and Western Balkans’ invisibility with: »These countries (…) have to show that they can adhere to the Copenhagen Criteria which set minimum standards in the areas of democracy, human rights and therule of law.« Especially in the field of human rights European Union breaks its own rules; let us pay attention just to the latest incidents in France with Roma’s deportation, not even mentioning problems with different ethnic minorities all over the Europe. Numerous human rights’ laws are set up by European commission but not even former members do respect them. The failure of human rights policies is therefore a general European problem, not Balkan’s. How paradoxically are then official documents and programs aiming to convince the region of Western Balkans of respecting the basic rules of humans and minorities’ rights? By EU representatives the reason for breaking them is explained by specific Balkan character. In order to discard it, Papandreou (2000), former Greek minister for foreign affairs, has suggested: »Let’s debalkanize the Balkans«. That kind of »human-rights imperialism« (Goldsworthy 1999, 109) is in complete opposition with general human-rights definition. Any type of imperialism or neocolonialism is in contradiction with what Europe ever called multiculturalism and has defended in its politics of multiculturalism. If European countries minus the ones located in Balkan »have better chance of joining EU« (Goldsworthy 1999, 112) because they are »civilized, democratic and cooperative« (Ash in Goldsworthy, ibid) what are then the real future possibilities for Balkans to become equal to other very Europeans? I would like to stop at this point for a while just to share a few words more about new European multiculturalism. Inside the topic of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans the question of multiculturalism is very controversial and full of contradictions. While speaking about the region, long history of prevailing multicultural social order is often ignored. Brotherhood and unity was the prevailing multicultural politic in the era of Tito’s Yugoslavia even before its formal institutionalization in Canada in 1963. Yugoslavia has successfully managed its ethnically diverse population for more than 50 years, as far as western principle of nationalism finally demolished it. Olli Rehn’s advice (he previously served as Enlargement commissioner), illustrated by Winston Churchill’s statement that the Balkans are better in producing than consuming history, might be in that context perceived as extremely arrogant:

I am sure you agree with me that it is high time that the Western Balkans can take a break and move from the production to the consumption of history! It means leaving blind nationalism behind and choosing a European future (Rehn 2005).

It reproduces the general attitude which nowadays still totally ignores that quite a long term of Balkan’s history when harmony, tolerance and peace were part of everyday life. It was a period that proved Western Balkans’ own ability for maintaining peace and stability in the region. To expose its pure missionary purposes politics of European Union uses barely specific history events and segments, proving Balkans indigenous conflict nature. Why Rehn speaks about »blind nationalism« as it would not be a pure European invention long-term practice and furthermore which is continuing to be used still in the European Union? It is for sure not accidentally that he describes past with the »blind nationalism« and sets the »European future« next to it like an obvious opposition.  The latter must be everything else but the united group of national states. It seems that just a decade of real national organization of the states in the area of Western Balkans has been much blinder than centuries of the same political arrangements in other parts of Europe. There, in fact, nationalism was born; in the Western Balkans just grew up.

Joining EU in this way is a far cry away from what Western Balkans countries would desire. To be clear: Western Balkans wants and needs to join EU because of numerous positive economic, political and cultural advantages. What has to be pointed out is a kind of maternal European approach to its »lost and found son« (Racanović 2008, 33). EU offers a helping hand to poor until you start reading between the lines. »The EU’s promise was not entirely altruistic«, conclude Brown and Attenborough 2007, 9). EU has to swallow all existing Balkan complexities and contradictions in order to increase its own trade and political area. Hence, Western Balkans is not a new cultural area, openly welcomed by the European distribution of different theories and praxis in multiculturalism. At the time of new-ex-Yugo-unification, symbolical Otherness re-obtains new power. Balkan preserves this Otherness but it has European potential. Balkans remains »European non-Europe«.

Balkan Europeanism maintains impurity and incomplete. Balkan as (…) exotic place with primordialistic savages is the image of Europe in its childhood. All perceptions are instruments to clearly distinguish between self-proclaimed Enlightenment and civilized West as fortress of pluralism, democracy and human rights (Racanović 2008, 32).

To enter this supernatural community Balkan must promise much to Europe. Because of its mother role, although metaphorically, Europe has legitimate right to practice historically well-established and obvious renewed idea that there are the »selected nations on the missions of civilizing« and that they have consequently the »natural right to dominate« (Bianchini 2000, 80). Good child, but obviously not the Balkans, obeys rules. At least, Europe is the one who can »signal that (…) patience with the Western Balkans has its limits« (Füle v EURACTIV).[5] Because Europe is »bathed in light« and the Balkans is in contrast »drenched in blood« (Goldsworthy 1999, 112). Until EU pulls Western Balkan out of its near dead end, Catherine Asthon promises them, that »EU is with you until you are in the EU« (Ashton 2010 in The Sofia Echo Staff).

Analyzing Füle’s sentence may once again show insignificance of the role of Balkan countries in the wider enlargement context. Europe is an active, while the Balkans is passive part of  it. Europe gives – the Balkans takes. »Let us lend a hand to the Western Balkans« thinks Bećirović in a patronizing manner »so that it may become an integral and indivisible part of the EU and NATO. This will be a victory for everyone« (Bećirović in Tunjić 2006, 10). The European Union is aware that will be risking its survival if it does not start the process of integration with the Western Balkans; for this reason victory for EU means taking control of that unpredictable region. With managing and directing it, all unpleasant surprises would stop.

In order to show her charity mother always gives sweets to her child; as Europe did:

Hoping to avoid another surge of nationalism in the region and fend off anti-European resentment among its populations as a result of the uncertainty surrounding EU accession, last year the European Commission offered as a sweetener visa liberalization for the citizens of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina (EURACTIV 2010),

Visa liberalization displays that fascinating »unity in diversity« (Racanović 2008, 34)  is a tangible privilege of certain EU members »created and appropriated barely for them and their united, associated actions« (ibid). By leaving out all Muslim population (in Albania, Kosovo and Muslim parts of Bosnia[6]) EU breaks rule by rule from human rights, religious pluralism to different direct discrimination practices. Council of European Union arguments this exclusion with the excuse that these countries »are not considered to have met all the benchmarksagreed under the visa liberalisation dialogue with the countries of the Western Balkans« (Council of the European Union, 2009). All-European multicultural interactions and dialogs have their pronounced boundaries. The Western Balkan location within this field is clear. Paraphrasing the Western Balkans – it might be said for sure that Western Balkans is located on the other side than North Galicia and West Iberia.


During his visit in Sarajevo[7] this year, Moratinos, Spanish foreign minister (his country holds the rotating EU presidency) exclaimed:

Today historical moment has happened. EU and Western Balkans have achieved a new arrangement: arrangement about hope, future and completed integration into EU community (in Van der Berg, 2010).

Catherine Ashton started her speech with another interesting metaphor: »Let me begin by saying something about the foreign country that is the most important of all. That foreign country is called the future« (Ashton in The Sofia Echo Staff 2010). In whole, last two conferences about Western Balkans (first one in Slovenia in March 2010 and the second one in Sarajevo in June 2010) were focusing on the future of peace stabilization and security.

Promoting security in the Balkans area is an action wich aims to remose the insecurity atmosphere that persists in the neighbour members of the EU. The initiatives regarding this region are numerous, but many of them come from countries that are not in this region and this means that they are aware of the fact that the community needs developement and cooperation (Stănciulescu 2005, 704).

EU tackles the problem of Western Balkans instability in the manner of 16th century conquistadores. Indeed, in this article missionarism should be understood as civilizational process which originated from West-European colonialist policies from 19th century on. As mentioned above, Europe has certain tendencies to debalkanize Balkan i.e.europeanizate it. Such de-Balkanization is summarized in the syntagm of peace oasis and harmony space. The general dilemma that faces European Union is »whether to Europeanize the Western Balkans or let it them become a ghetto« (Bećirović in Jazbec 2007, 9). EU representatives are confident: Europeanization would lead to progress of the region and would be fruitful for both. Publically created web encyclopedia summarizes general European stand-point in its notion of Powder keg of Europe. It refers to:

(…) Balkan in the early part of Twentieth century. In this time period there were a number of overlapping claims to territories and spheres of influence between the major European powers such as Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Austria-Hungary and, to a lesser degree, Imperial Germany, Great Britain, and Italy.  (Powder keg of Europe, 2009).

Recent history shows how Central European powers (in their ambition) conquer new spaces (i.e. Balkan). It is quite opposite to dominant beliefs about inherent conflict character of the area. Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe[8] from 1999 ignores this fact and was primary established to »contribute to overcoming the chronic instability and frequent local conflicts in the Balkan« (Berzani 2008, 17). Such »chronic instabilities« mostly refer to conflicts from early 1990s on. Therefore, »ethnic fears and hates« (Abramowitz in Hurlburt 2002, 3) and politics formed on ethnical or nationalistic basis are Balkan’s everyday life and reality as well. Yet Balkan is also history of numerous periods and examples of successful multicultural cooperation, conciliatory politics and harmonically coexistence. Current conflicts are consequence of actual political culture or more precisely consequence of the one from the political elites in pursuing their own political goals and constant foreign interventions. Despite this general political climate European Commission insists upon the »ultimate conflict prevention strategy and committed itself to maintain and increase its pro-active presence in the region« (Belloni 2009, 2). »If we desire peace and stability in the Western Balkans« stands Bećirović (in Jazbec 2007, 9), »the EU and NATO are the solution. There is, for now, no other way«. For many of representatives EU enlargement towards Western Balkans represents »real threat to security and stability of current and future members in more than one point of view as well as reducing in authority and credibility of EU as global actor« em(Simić 2002, 30). Said with Šuklje, enlargement mainly means just new conflicts between states under the new EU umbrella (Šuklje in Senković and Korljan 2010). However it is just a top of Balkan-threatening-iceberg and because of that it has to »answer the question: what can West Balkan offers to EU in return« (ibid). That must remind us of the historical idea about Balkan’s Union[9] as model of association of all Balkan’s people, united in order to cease perpetual local struggles of the area what threated other non-Balkan parts of Europe. The idea was about building the common Balkan future in economic and social field of life what would step by step lead to strong alliance between different cultural groups. The idea was initiated by actual European leaders of that time.

Ultimately, how should Balkan people react to all these rhetoric, plays and plans? European Union postulates democracy, economic development and pluralism as universal values. In this context Balkan strategy is merely another ideological way of how to unite these countries to ensure peace and stability to entire Europe. This means nothing more than conquest of particular space in order to end global struggles (Abramowitz in Hurlburt 2002, 3). Formally, the Stability Pact tries to propose new perspective on the European integration process and guarantees to Western Balkans countries assistance in their endeavors to fulfill the requirements for inclusion in European Union. At the same time, the region is obliged by the Pact to work together towards peace and security what supposes to be a base for the further economic development. Such long term conflict prevention strategy covers the whole region rather than partial or/and individual crises and as such is believed to be more efficient (Lajh 2002, 61).

EU commissioners’ utterance in these analyzed texts seems to answer to all Balkan burdens and concerns. These are definitely not texts describing EU enlargement to neutral cultural space. They speak about particular part of Europe which can endanger its Unity, making it feels discomfort and confused. And finally: these are the texts about cultural place which desires a redemptive stop for never ending misery, either conflict or material based. Apart from that Balkan deserves »opportunities that are enabled to all citizens of European Union members« (Rupel 2008, 16).


There are just few people who know what exactly to do with the region. On the one hand, it does not function good enough to fulfill the criteria of approaching or even membership in the Union. On the other side, the region does not have any bright prospects if it would insist to stay out of the region. EU representatives’ points of view are changing. Even if they lead a fruitful discussion they hardly avoid using at least one negative word association. Their general attitude to the Western Balkans enlargement is almost without exception positive, optimistic and visionary, yet there are some strong and painful words or metaphors.

The main problem analyzed in the article does not lay in media discourse. Media as such has a great potential for dissemination of contaminated information. What is really problematic and deserves critical reflection is EU representatives’ careless use of language which is full of pejorative connotations and furthermore helps to reproduce stereotypes and consequently prejudices about Balkan area. After all analyzed texts two explanations of the issue are possible. First, such approach of verbal humiliation from EU representatives is just a part of presumed culpability, transferred to Balkan itself in the case of missed integration of the West Balkan countries to EU.  Pejorative images of Western Balkans as not civilized, not democratic and not cooperative, should explain lesser chances of joining the EU (Goldsworthy 1999, 112). The enlargement itself, combined with world economic crisis and disputed territory of Kosovo, may lead to undesirable reversal. In that case, EU can excuse the potential failure and distance itself with the argument of previous warnings.

On the other hand, and what is more frightening: pejorative language used in West Balkans’ discourse could be used as nothing more than unconscious reproduction of interiority images in binary construction of Europe versus Otherness, i.e. Balkan. Images were therefore incorporated and naturalized into everyday language in such a strong manner that they became taken-for-granted and therefore not discussed or problematized. Indeed, region does not either have a chance to present itself in a mode it wants nor a particular occasion where its positive aspect would be revealed. Thus, EU enlargement strategy is too dangerous in the explosive circumstances of the times; at least until EU representatives add fuel to the flames. Their speeches might affect people in a great extension because of its assumed formality; especially in cases where the EU representatives are the only credible source of information and therefore the basis on which people’s decision are made.

Hence, my discussion has reflected critically on the speeches which acquaint Balkan to a lot of those people who have never been there before or have never read about it – except about wars and ethnical conflicts. As data in the beginning of this text display high rate of people who oppose the EU enlargement to West Balkan exists. Europe hankers after united unity intended for multicultural praxis, pluralism and democracy but Balkan integration threats these purposes. Rather than facts, EU overdoses on historical anachronisms; as Balkan ethnical and religious struggles, for example. But with constant warming up of the region’s history and making decision and opinions on it, it is really hard to believe that it would ever wait for its happily ever after ending.


Abramowitz Morton and Heather Hurlburt. 2002. Can the EU hack the Balkans?A proving ground for Brussels, (25. August 2010).

Belloni, Roberto. 2009. European integration and the Western Balkans: lessons, prospects and limits, Peace/RobertoBelloni.pdf (1. September 2010)

Berg, Stephanie Van den. 2010.Western Balkans’ future is in European Union, (1.September 2010).

Berzani, Roland. 2008. A roadmap for the future security in the West Balkans, GetTRDoc.pdf (30. August 2010).

Bianchini Stefano. 2000.  Political culture and democratization in the Balkans. In Experimenting with democracy: regime change in the Balkans, ed. Geoffrey Pridham and Tom Gallagher, 65–83. London: Routledge.

Brown Adèl in Michael Attenborough. 2007. EU enlargement: The Western Balkans, (25. August).

Council of the European Union. 2009. Visa liberalization for Western Balkans countries,!menu/standard/file/111561.pdf (1. September 2010).

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[1] Found in: Abramowitz and Hulburt 2002, Berzani 2008, Bianchini 2000, Brown and Attenborough 2007, EURACTIV 2010, Papandreou 2000, Rupel 2008, Rusila 2009, Senković and Korljan 2010.

[2] Label Europe used in this text refers to EU leading political institutions, especially those, responsible for West Balkan enlargement.

[3]Papandreou writes like he lives somewhere out of Balkan and not at his very end. However, Greece has been a member for a long time,  even though, it is at least geographically still part of Balkan.

[4]Said in the context of last Serbian elections where a great majority of attendants voted for pro-European Serbian Government.

[5]Štefan Füle, Enlargement Commissioner lost his patience at regional conference in Brdo, Slovenia, March 2010. The reason was Serbian president Boris Tadić who boycotted the event due to the presence of Kosovo Prime Minister HasimThaçi.

[6]Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs have the opportunity to hold dual citizenship with Serbia and Croatia and can thus take advantage of current visa liberalization.

[7] The main goal of the meeting was to reaffirm the EU’s commitment towards the European perspective of the countries in the Western Balkans within the new framework of the Lisbon Treaty.

[8]Ex-French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine has said that one of the aims of the Stability Pact was to »Europeanize the Balkans« (in Francis 199, 127).

[9]More about the Balkan Union could be found in the article The Balkan Union, the Balkan Conferences and the Balkan pact, writen by Calloyani, (30. August 2010)

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