Constructing the Western Balkans
: Understanding the European Commission's Regional Approach from a Constructivist Perspective

  • Christos Marazopoulos

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The thesis traces the construction of the Western Balkans since the end of the armed conflict in 1995. The term Western Balkans has become a commonplace in international politics that refers to a recognisable region on the European map – ignoring that it does not constitute a historical formation of European and Balkan politics. Most contemporary analysis focuses on functional aspects of economic cohesiveness and security interdependence. However, this thesis argues that the concept of Western Balkans is better understood as a social construction, externally-driven. The argument is that the Western Balkans is what the European Union makes of it. By taking a macro-historical perspective, we look at the long and special ties that the EU has had from the time of Yugoslavia to the Western Balkans until the mid-2000s. What we uncover is a special and consistent involvement of the European Commission into the regional affairs. The Western Balkans starts as a small organisational department within the institutional structure of the external relations' portfolio to become a regional identity question for the local populations. Also, the thesis points to the Commission’s actions as not just the outcome of micro-calculations but part of a social context of competing world-views; and, finally, this is the reason that the end-product of the Western Balkans resembles more a messy amalgam rather than a rational design.
Date of Award11 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAdrian Hyde-Price (Supervisor) & Gian Gardini (Supervisor)


  • European Commission
  • Western Balkans
  • social constructivism
  • social representations
  • regional signifier
  • external relations
  • European Union
  • Yugoslavia
  • international relations

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