Is There a ‘Southeast European Way’ of Settling Disputes or Should There Be One? Lessons for the European Union.

Scholars have for years contemplated the significant role that the EU does play or could play in reducing tensions in turbulent regions and contributing to the resolution of conflicts and settlement of disputes. There is a large body of scholarly literature as well as think tank reports that examine the way that the mollifying political culture and the unique instruments of the EU have helped in resolving conflicts or have the potential to facilitate the resolution of conflicts. But the EU’s record in facilitating the settling of disputes in the Balkans has not been glowing. The highest profile failure has been the inability of the EU to date to become the main broker of a comprehensive deal between Serbia and Kosovo. This is despite Europe’s enormous economic and political clout in the Western Balkans, the EU membership perspective that both countries have enjoyed and the headstart for EU diplomacy that the Brussels Agreement has offered. But the EU has also not been particularly successful or timely in intervening in other disputes in the region, while its few successes (as for example the Slovenia-Croatia maritime zones settlement or the Montenegro-Kosovo border delimitation deal) have been questioned due to major problems in implementation.

As a Europe’s Futures Fellow in 2020/21, Ioannis Armakolas undertakes the first comprehensive analysis of the Prespa Agreement, which settled the so-called Macedonia name dispute. The aim is to understand the dynamics of settlement of the Greece-North Macedonia dispute and to draw lessons for the European Union about the nature of Balkan disputes, their potential for settlement as well as the role of European diplomacy and influence.

Ioannis Armakolas

Dr. Ioannis Armakolas is tenured Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics of Southeast Europe at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki. He is the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Southeast European and Black Sea Studies’, the foremost scientific journal of Southeast Europe, the Black Sea region and Turkey, published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis in the United Kingdom, and also Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Political Trends and Dynamics in Southeast Europe’ regional publication.

As a Senior Research Fellow & Head of the South-East Europe Programme at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Ioannis Armakolas has set up in 2011 and since led ELIAMEP’s South-East Europe Programme, doing pioneer work on analysing Greece’s difficult relations and disputes with neighbouring Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia.

Ioannis Armakolas has researched and published, among other topics, on nationalism and ethnic relations in the Balkans, state building and public policy making in post-conflict states in the Balkans, EU and NATO enlargement in the Balkans, Greek foreign policy and Greece’s relations with Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo, public opinion and foreign policy in the Balkans, Greek media representations of neighbouring nations, cultural heritage, war memory and memorialisation, transitional justice and reconciliation.

Ioannis Armakolas holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge, an MA in International Relations (with distinction) from the University of Kent and a first degree from Panteion University.