Different "carrots", same dares of EUs neighbourhood and enlargement policies : the role of external assistance programmes in fostering minority rights in the countries of the Western Balkans and CIS

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Kramer, Marina
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The European Union (EU) was at its inception in 1951 considered as a merely economic “club”. However, this has changed in the last decades and the EU as we know it today is founded, amongst others, on the principles of democracy, human rights and rule of law. The most powerful tool for the EU to promote these values outside the EU are external assistance programmes. The motivation behind them is not solely the principles that the EU countries cherish, but as well their wish to live in a safer neighbourhood. The two neighbouring EU regions, the Western Balkans and the CIS countries may be divided into “false” and “real” neighbours respectively, depending on their EU membership perspective, currently reflected in two different types of agreement. The Western Balkans countries, which have a clear membership “carrot” in front of their eyes, have been proving that with an adequate motivation, democratic transition and reforms may be effectively realised. On the other hand, lacking the adequate motivation, the CIS countries seem to lag behind with reforms, in spite of some countries’ single-handed wish to join in. The minority rights situation in the two regions reflects this in an exemplary manner and in spite of sharing similar problems, assistance programmes targeting minorities differ in their realisation and organisation. Something which should surely be promptly improved is the deficient evaluation of concluded project, so that more lessons may be learned from past programming activities. In order to effectively support the reforms and their implementation, the situation the EU should stop copy-pasting pre-fabricated solutions from the West, improve the present system of external assistance and minority protection and finally define its intentions what the CIS countries are concerned.
Second semester University: Université Libre de Bruxelles
development aid, European Union, foreign economic relations, international cooperation, Balkans, Russian Federation, minority rights, Eastern Europe