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Session Overview
Panel 905: The EU and Contested Statehood in its Near Abroad - Europeanisation, Actorness and State-Building II
Wednesday, 04/Sep/2019:
11:30am - 1:00pm

Session Chair: Munevver Cebeci, Marmara University
Location: Room 12.34

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The EU and Contested Statehood in its Near Abroad - Europeanisation, Actorness and State-Building II

Chair(s): Munevver Cebeci (Marmara University)

The re-launch of European integration in the post-Maastricht era has triggered a significant volume of scholarship focusing beyond the borders of the EU. As with studies on internal matters of European integration, the centrality of the Westphalian state within EU affairs has resulted in an increasing focus on states. Yet, the engagement of the EU in conflict or post-conflict regions in the wider European periphery has confronted policy makers in Brussels with a significant number of cases of ‘contested statehood’: self-declared states that lack diplomatic recognition, cannot maintain effective control over their respective territory and cannot exercise their authority due to weak state institutions.

Throughout the years, the EU has deployed different tools, policies and mechanisms in order to enhance its state-building role as a way of addressing contested statehood situations that arose both in its own territory and in its near abroad. Despite of this, the way in which the EU deals with contested statehood is still rather under-researched, not least from a comparative perspective. This applies also to the EU’s evolving and fluid ‘actorness’ and the repercussions it has on the EU’s presence in or around contested states. As part of an exciting and emerging research agenda, the panel seeks to engage with the debate on the EU’s role as a state-builder in cases of contested statehood as well as shed light on how the specificities of contested statehood ‘shape’ the EU impact on the ground.


Presentations of the Symposium


Evaluating EU Actorness as a State-builder in 'Contested' Kosovo

Elena Baracani
University of Bologna

Ten years after Kosovo’s controversial declaration of independence, this article seeks to analyse how the European Union has gradually become the main external actor in the facilitation of the state-building process in Kosovo, how its approach to state-building has evolved in the period 2008-2018 and how the state contestation issue has shaped its actorness in this domain. The empirical analysis shows that while the EU initially adopted a state-building through conditionality approach, modelled on its enlargement policy, after 2008, the EU complemented its conditionality approach with additional tools, which made Kosovo into a key test case for its comprehensive approach to conflicts. Finally, in recent years, the EU has prioritized the normalization of relations with Belgrade in its state-building approach. The analysis also presents some examples of how EU actorness as a state-builder is shaped by the state contestation issue. The lack of recognition of Kosovo by five of its member states induced the EU to devise creative institutional and legal solutions in order to overcome its internal division, but it also strongly reduced its leverage. The lack of effective government induced the EU to make Kosovo become the recipient of the largest amount of EU aid per capita in the world since 1999, but the country’s weak state apparatus constrained the effectiveness of such assistance. Finally, the lack of territorial control over the north by the Pristina-based Kosovo authorities constrained EU actorness because it found implementing its policies impossible or very difficult in that part of the country.


The European Union in Northern Cyprus: Conceptualising the Avoidance of Contested States

George Kyris
University of Birmingham

This article explores the role of the EU in unrecognised, also known as contested, states and more specifically, how their level of international recognition and empirical statehood (i.e. government authority and control) influence the EU’s engagement. By studying the case of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the article finds that the EU engagement takes the form of ‘state avoidance’, mostly characterised by an effort to engage without endorsing state recognition and manifested via a) sui generis management of unrecognised borders, b) informal engagement with officials of the unrecognised state, c) replacement of public authorities with non-state actors and d) extensive engagement with civil society. In this regard, the article offers a range of causal explanations that can be tested across a greater number of similar cases. What is more, I contrast state avoidance to state-building approaches evident in aspiring states with more recognition but greater deficit of empirical statehood, such as Kosovo and Palestine, and I argue for a broader conceptualisation of the phenomenon of unrecognised states, allowing for variation in both the degree of recognition and of empirical statehood. As such, the article combines a discussion of rich empirical findings and inductive concept-building that contributes to a more informed discussion and further research development, especially as far as engagement from the EU is concerned.


Framing and Contesting 'Europe' in Contested States: Narratives in North Cyprus and Kosovo

Başak Alpan
Middle East Technical University

Since the European integration has been preoccupying our national, regional and global agendas, concepts such as ‘identity’ and ‘belongingness’, normally deemed as notions of the past, re-emerged as politically salient issues. This process overlapped with a period which underlined the importance of the notion of ‘identity’ worldwide in a world which had been complicated even more due to the rising tide of migration and multiculturalism starting from 1980s and 1990s. This paper, departing from rising significance of the notions of ‘identity’ and ‘belongingness’, will aim at exploring narratives on ‘Europe’ through narrative analysis in two contested states of North Cyprus and Kosovo, whose international status, borders and societal relations are disputed. It is noteworthy to explore whether the EU’s ‘geographical imagination’ of these countries penetrates to the identities and narratives at the domestic level in Kosovo and North Cyprus. Through focus group research and semi-structured interviews, the narratives on ‘Europe’ as constructed by the public opinion and policy-makers in both settings will be scrutinised.


The European Union and Practices of Governing Space and Population in Contested States: Insights from EUPOL COPPS in Palestine

Dimitris Bouris, Beste İşleyen
University of Amsterdam

This paper examines the EU Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS) with a focus on its effects on everyday police work on the ground. The main argument is that the mission illustrates the ways in which its training and advisory activities work to foster logics and practices that feed into and reproduce the borders that have over the years been imposed, primarily through Israeli security practices. Operating under conditions of contested statehood, EUPOL COPPS promotes Palestinian policing activities based on particular spatial logics and actions as to the governance of the Palestinian population. The article presents new empirical material collected through interviews and document analysis. As such, it aims to build bridges between the literature on critical border studies, EU external relations, the EU’s role in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as well as the literature on the EU police missions in conflict and post-conflict missions by emphasising their spatial dimension.

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