Dinko Dinkov: Southeast European region has the potential of “Balkanizing” the continent1 November 2007 | 18:21 | FOCUS News Agency
Associate Professor Dinko Dinkov from the Foreign Relations Department with the University for National and World Economy (UNWE), in an interview with FOCUS New Agency.
FOCUS: Mr. Dinkov, what are exactly the processes of economic cooperation in Southeast Europe?
Dinko Dinkov: We are in a process of overcoming the sorrowful fame of our region that was formed in the past and of confirming the perspective for turning it into an integral part of the European institutions that proved their vitality. Compared to new tendencies in the development of the world economy and foreign relations the idea for regional cooperation in Southeast Europe is gaining new meaning. Most generally I consider “cooperation” as common actions for achieving joint purposes. This supposes pursuing mutual benefits via mutual consent, support and solidarity by finding compromises based on equal rights. The relations between different countries depend on how each of them has developed its own production capacities, division of labor and participation in international communication. But certain characteristics of economic collaboration between Southeast European countries depend on the objective situation that was created by the economic potential of the countries from this region to participate in the international division of labor, by the common condition of their bilateral and multilateral relations on the one hand, and by general conditions in world economy and the crisis in international relations on the other. According to me, the region is not only a restricted territory. It is a space where favorable geographic, political, economic and cultural conditions have found ground for the realization of a relatively more intensive collaboration. European orientation has been dominant till now in the policy of regional cooperation of all the states from Southeast Europe. I think that there is already a clear idea that what is important for decreasing the risk potential of the region is the increase of its compatibility with the developing single European space.
Though in different ways, all those states view their cooperation with each other as a way to their full integration to the common European processes. This has also turned into a starting point for the regional cooperation in the Sofia Declaration for good neighborly relations that was adopted at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the countries from Southeastern Europe, which was held in 1996 here, in Sofia. Even back then the foreign ministers from the region declared their wish for collaboration by means of other forms of regional cooperation. You can see that now this issue is acquiring new meaning. Now even Bulgaria has taken up the presidency in May of the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) where new options could already be seen too. The European dominant of these initiatives is to provide a fortifying effect for placing regional cooperation on a broader plane. The possibilities for the organization of regional cooperation in Southeast Europe should be viewed not only on a regional but also on a system level.
FOCUS: Which are the most important issues for the economic cooperation of the Southeast European states?
Dinko Dinkov: overcoming the economic backwardness and stabilizing the region is of prior importance. The solution of these tasks is a condition for the integration of the region in the European structures. That is why the efforts for the development of the cooperation in the region have deep significance in the context of the Europeization
FOCUS: How could the presence or absence of economic cooperation of the countries from the Western Balkans could affect security?
Dinko Dinkov: I still dare claim that the region still has the potential of Balkanizing Europe. The latest war in Europe was led on the Balkans. There are “incomplete” states in the region. There are aspirations for the formation of new states – I will mention only Kosovo. The deadline for the talks between Serbia and Kosovo on Kosovo status expires on December 10th. There is a high probability that Kosovar Albanians will declare independence. The USA will most probably support that independence, and some EU states will also support it, but there would be such that will categorically reject the idea about independent Kosovo. And here you have specific situation in Europe – the EU will be split in two, a new dividing line in the EU, in a moment when the EU ought to sign and implement that new treaty of the Union. I think that here, in our region, there is a potential danger for Balkanizing Europe. And there is no way for this thing to remain unnoticed in all the factors of the international system. The EU is already deeply engaged with the problems of our region, and here I could raise the question: whether the EU has the capacity and the will to domineer as a main factor for the transformation of the region into an integral part of the model of social development on the old continent. I think that the policy of stabilization and association of the countries from the Western Balkans is not very convincing. There is a hesitation over the prior priority – stabilization and transformation of the region. The EU will have to search for special combinations for its policies and means regarding Southeast Europe.
FOCUS: What is the place of Bulgaria in these processes?
Dinko Dinkov: Bulgaria not initiates the foreign ministers meeting, but it also drafted they text of the declaration and was one of the founders of this process of regional cooperation. In May Bulgaria took up the presidency of SEECP. We did it as we showed much serious ambitions to achieve overall results from the cooperation. We outlined a few visions for further actions and the beginning that will be given to that process after the termination of the Stability Pact will undoubtedly of high importance. Of course, this pins great expectations on Bulgaria. And I hope we’ll be able to meet them.
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