Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2010

The Western Balkan Candidates for NATO Membership and Partnership

David Greenwood

December 2005

Centre for European Security Studies


The ‘Western Balkans’ is a geographical designation invented in 1999 by the European Union (EU) to cover the countries targeted as ‘potential candidates’ for entry to the EU by inclusion in its Stabilisation and Association Process. It covers five states: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro (formerly the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). Three of these countries – Albania, Croatia and Macedonia – are also candidates for NATO membership and are engaged, as they have been for some years, in active and assisted preparation for accession. The two union-states are currently seeking admission to NATO’s non-members’ club – the Partnership for Peace, or PfP – as an initial step on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration. To later join the Organisation proper is a declared goal of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It is not, at least for the time being, a stated policy objective of Serbia and Montenegro (SCG). It is these aspirations vis-à-vis NATO that are the subject-matter of the present study. The original aim of the inquiry was two-fold: (a) to examine and evaluate the membership credentials of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, and the partnership credentials of BiH and SCG; and on that basis (b) to assess the preparedness of the aspirants for, respectively, accession (to NATO) and admission (to PfP). In addressing these topics, however, it became apparent that factors other than ‘credentials’ might – perhaps should – enter the policy reckoning; and that, in the case of the would-be Partners, one matter certainly does, viz. catching and despatching named war crimes indictees. Some attention has therefore been paid to these issues.