For many years in the last two decades the Western Balkans countries have inspired headlines in papers, journals, magazines, TV shows, news, etc. The international attention this region has earned has mainly come from the unrest, wars, and conflicts that have engulfed it for years.
Today, however, as the last piece of puzzle of the break-up process of former Yugoslavia has been resolved, namely the international recognition of Kosovo (albeit partial), this region has turned into a calm and developing area. Countries of the region have now similar ambitions – all targeting eventual accession to the European Union and NATO. Indeed, several of the region’s countries have made important progress in their Euro-Atlantic integration process. Croatia and Albania for instance have already joined NATO, while Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania have already benefited from the visa liberalization process with the EU.
Among all these countries, Kosovo is the most special. It provoked NATO’s first ever military intervention in 1999, was placed under UN administration until 2008, and became the newest country in Europe on February 17, 2008.
Despite its troubled past, Kosovo’s present and future are quite promising. Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe. It has a geography that beautifully combines mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, summer and winter attractions. Kosovo continues to be a hot political issue in many international decision-making circles. Its relations with Serbia continue to pose challenges to Kosovo’s future and the future of the entire region. The EU’s involvement in Kosovo has grown rapidly after the declaration of independence. The largest EU mission ever has now been deployed to Kosovo – EULEX, the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo.
Both in terms of economic development and politics, Kosovo poses both an opportunity and a challenge for EU’s performance as an international actor. In Kosovo, the EU has the opportunity to shape and ensure a European future for this new country and make it an example of modern state building. By the same token, EU’s failure to do so ensures the shrinking of its international importance as a global actor. In addition, to make this program more fruitful the participants will have the possibility to deepen in some areas where Kosovo and other neighboring countries are study case. In Kosovo an asymmetric decentralization yet in some aspects functional. In Macedonia an agreement put an end to an inter-ethnic conflict.
Therefore, in an effort to provide foreign students with a unique opportunity to learn more about Kosovo and the Balkans, experience the region in person, and enjoy the beauties it has to offer, AAB University brings to you the AAB Summer School on Democracy and Development.