By Dimitar Bechev
Nearby cooperation has develop into a particular characteristic of the Balkans, a space identified for its turbulent politics. Exploring the origins and dynamics of this variation, this ebook highlights the transformative energy of the ecu and different foreign actors.
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Additional resources for Constructing South East Europe: The Politics of Balkan Regional Cooperation
All in the Same Boat? 39 Interdependence and cooperation Beyond doubt, regional interdependence is a factor that matters for the Balkans. Whether they liked it or not, in the 1990s local states found themselves bundled by their politics, security concerns and geography, and to a lesser degree by their economies. Even divisive forces such as the legacies of conflict gave coherence to the notion of one South East Europe. In addition to common threats, interdependence also meant developmental opportunities.
Bulgaria and Romania’s agriculture was in a sorry state due to the outdated technology and labour shortages in rural areas. Repression of national minorities such as the Turks and the Hungarians, who were often concentrated in the countryside, only worsened both countries’ predicament. The inefficient and resourceconsuming heavy industries, developed in previous decades, soon too proved a liability, while the Soviet decision to stop supplying 22 Constructing South East Europe underpriced oil cut off the opportunity for re-export – one of the few ways to earn hard currency from the West.
The state of war between the two countries, dating back to the Italian invasion of Greece in the autumn of 1940, lasted until 1987, sixteen years after re-establishing diplomatic relations. Of course, the removal of an anachronism did not lead to improvements for the Greek community in the southern parts of Albania (‘Northern Epirus’). Yet it hinted at a reversal of Albania’s isolationist doctrine, in the wake of the 1985 death of Enver Hoxha, the country’s longstanding communist leader. As early as 1948, at the time of the Cominform crisis, Hoxha had severed all links with Yugoslavia, the Albanian communists’ one-time patron, including a customs union and a currency arrangement pegging the lek to the Yugoslav dinar.