European Identity in Balkans: the Case of Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Aniseta Uraj
School of Business and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology
July, 2018
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MA. Aniseta Uraj is a young postgraduate scholar who specializes in the fields of History, Geography, International Relations, and European-Asian Studies. She holds a Diploma in History and Geography from University of Shkoder ‘Luigj Gurakuqi’, Shkoder, Albania, and a Master Degree in International Relations and European- Asian Studies from Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia. Her research efforts are focused on European and Balkan Studies, identity, human rights, democracy, and governance.
 

Abstract

ABSTRACT

From Dante to Nietzsche, from Napoleon to Churchill, the idea of a unified Europe and a common
European identity remains at the core of the ongoing process which keeps moving towards the
uncertainty compelled by a high differentiated reality and complex integration process. Within the
transformation’s frame, the discourse of European identity reflects the continuous debate where the
divergences which lie at the substratum of collective identities become sharper if the topic is
analyzed from the Balkans perspective. The integration trap, mirrored in the inherited pro and anti-
European divisions, remains the proof of how the efforts and strategies of the EU institutions for the
creation of a unified Europe and a common European identity are continuously undermined by
regionalism and nationalism.

This thesis aims to explore this issue placing the European identity discourse in Balkans while
connecting it with the Western Balkans as an EU constructed identity concept. It claims that
European identity in this region remains irrelevant as long the EU strategies will fail in embracing
the cultural and political differences, either at regional as well at national level. The thesis uses
historical analysis for proving the hypothesis from a macro level perspective, whereas comparative
and case study research design help for analyzing two in-depth case studies – Croatia, and the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – hence, to prove the hypothesis from a micro-level
perspective.

In both cases, the qualitative and quantitative data used in this study proved that the dominant
perceptions among the citizens remain related to the materialist benefits that the EU membership
and integration offers, preventing in this way the shifting of local and collective identities towards
the European political and cultural values. As the consequence of a set of factors, both historical and
present, internal and external, similar perceptions make the European identity discourse highly
questionable in a future integration of the whole Western Balkans in the European Union.


Keywords: European identity, Balkans identity, nationalism, European Union, Western Balkans,
Europeanization.