OPEN BALKAN INITIATIVE: A CONTESTED ISSUE IN THE EU MEMBERSHIP PERSPECTIVE
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The Open Balkan is the latest regional initiative in the Western Balkans (WB), firstly named as Mini-Schengen and then changed to Open Balkan Initiative (OBI), which aims to increase the regional economic cooperation among the WBs by going beyond the mere objective of creating a Common Regional Market (CRM). This paper using an analytical approach, taking into account data and information, has identified and highlighted the openly declared objectives of the OBI while comparing it with the previous Berlin Process. Also, the paper has shown that the disputes among the WB countries most inherited from the unresolved issues of the past are still present and hinder the progress towards a common future and EU membership perspective. The reactions to the OBI proved that even the creation of mere economic cooperation is hardly achieved in the case of other existing unresolved issues of the past and continues to remain open. This paper has highlighted the existence of mistrust among the WBs, the importance of increasing regional cooperation, and the role that the EU should inevitably play. The paper has concluded that to achieve the targets defined in the OBI, the WBs should enhance regional cooperation and overcome the challenges they have been facing.
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