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Elton Tota
Gjon Culaj


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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How to Cite
Tota, Elton, and Gjon Culaj. 2023. “OPEN BALKAN INITIATIVE: A CONTESTED ISSUE IN THE EU MEMBERSHIP PERSPECTIVE”. Journal of Liberty and International Affairs 9 (1):312-24.
Author Biographies

Elton Tota, University for Business and Technology - Pristina, Kosovo

Elton Tota is an experienced lawyer who has worked for different public and private institutions. He has also been committed to projects in the rule of law sector implemented by: the National Democratic Institute (NDI), GIZ International, B&S Europe, KLSC, etc. He earned his Ph.D in Law from the Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany and also hold an LL.M Degree in EU and International Law from the University of Bremen. He is a professor of EU law at the UBT College in Kosovo. He has lectured modules of EU Law, EU Judicial Protection, EU Competition Law and Policy in BA and MA levels at the Faculty of European Integrated Studies and the Faculty of Law at the ISPE College in Pristina.

Gjon Culaj, University for Business and Technology - Pristina, Kosovo

Gjon Culaj is Professor of Faculty of Political Science – Departement of Security Studies, University for Business and Technology – UBT, Prishtina, Kosovo. He earned his PhD in Political Science from the University Paris 2 in France and also holds a Master Degree in Political Science - Strategic Studies from the University of Paris 13. His research interests focus on International Relations, EU Foreign and Security Policy, EU Enlargement Policy as well as National and International Security. He is author and co-author of edited book chapters and papers in international peer-reviewed journals.