By Dimitar Bechev
Local cooperation has develop into a particular characteristic of the Balkans, a space identified for its turbulent politics. Exploring the origins and dynamics of this transformation, this e-book highlights the transformative energy of the european and different overseas actors.
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Extra info for Constructing South East Europe: The Politics of Balkan Regional Cooperation
9 With the closure of access to Thessaloniki, because of the Greek embargo, Macedonian businesses switched to the port of Durrës in Albania and Burgas on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. Similarly, during the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina lost access to the Croatian port of Plocˇe. East–west connections were hampered by underdeveloped infrastructure. Neither the Albanian nor the Greek ports on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea were connected to major cities in the Balkans. This challenge was particularly pronounced in Albania due to its substandard – even by Balkan measures – roads and railways.
This challenge was particularly pronounced in Albania due to its substandard – even by Balkan measures – roads and railways. 3 Density and quality of roads in South East Europe (2000) Length in km Albania Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Macedonia Moldova Romania FR Yugoslavia Average CEE8 average Spain, Portugal, Greece (EU S3) average EU12 (without S3) average Km/ 1000 km2 Area Km per 1 million Inhabitants Motorways km/1000 km road 18,000 21,846 626 427 5,743 5,493 1 1 37,286 28,123 12,522 12,657 198,603 49,805 47,355 122,870 284,111 336 497 487 375 833 487 585 1,348 1,169 4,691 6,419 6,156 3,478 8,852 4,684 6,511 13,317 14,329 9 15 11 0 1 8 4 2 13 258,827 1,238 9,819 13 Source: Christie and Holzner (2004).
Further south, the parallel state institutions run by the Albanians in Kosovo were, according to reports, partly funded by gangs trafficking heroin from Turkey into Western Europe. In the mid-1990s, the Kosovars started smuggling weapons too. Many of the assault rifles looted from the army depots during the 1997 riots in Albania finally made their way into neighbouring Kosovo. Thanks to its central position in the Balkans, Serbia connected all the pieces of the puzzle. The sanctions aimed at the Miloševic´ regime gave rise to a veritable economy based on breaking the embargo.