Maria Pawelec, Sonja Grimm | 2014

Does National Identity Matter? EU Political Conditionality and Serbia’s Cooperation with the ICTY

in: Journal of Common Market Studies 52: 6, 1290-1306

Seeking to explain the difficult cases of delayed democratic transition in the Western Balkans, recent literature argues that ‘national identity’ significantly limits the effectiveness of external actors’ political conditionality. This argument is tested in this article by investigating Serbia’s co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was demanded by the United States and the European Union (EU). The findings show that incidents of Serbian co-operation with the ICTY were not preceded by widespread national identity change; rather, co-operation occurred when Serbia was faced with consistent external pressure and the immediate prospect of small-scale rewards. Conditionality thus remained effective. These findings challenge theoretical arguments that issues of national identity may impede external actors’ projection of power, independently of domestic actors’ cost-benefit calculations. Moreover, they suggest that, in the future, external actors such as the EU may continue to rely upon political conditionality for their democratization agenda, even concerning domestically sensitive issue-areas.

More about this publication here.

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