Research Student: Dr Simonida Kacarska
Minority policies in the EU accession process: the cases of Croatia and Macedonia.
Protection of minorities is an integral part of the EU political criteria for accession, which are considered to be essential for the start of the accession negotiations. In the Western Balkans, which as a region is in the queue for accession, minority protection is an issue of increasing importance, because of the multiethnic character of the region and the legacy of recent inter and intra-state conflicts.
Having in mind the multifaceted nature of EU conditionality and its impact on the Western Balkans’ political transformation, the question how external pressures have affected domestic institutional and policy changes remains still unanswered. In light of the significance of the EU as an actor in the domestic minority politics in the candidate countries, this thesis aims to examine how EU conditionality has affected domestic minority protection and majority – minority relations in Macedonia and Croatia.
The research is based on qualitative methodology, i.e. document analysis and open-ended interviews. This specific method and the data it provides contribute to the research originality. For the purposes of this research, data from interviews and extensive fieldwork in Brussels, Zagreb and Skopje will be used. In addition to EU and national officials, the interviewees also include representatives of international organizations as well as civil society organizations.
To analyse the impact of EU conditionality, this study will utilise process-tracing by focusing on how the candidates configured institutional and policy choices in the context of EU requirements. This study will provide original empirical findings on the impact of the EU in the current candidate countries and will be relevant for the rest of the Western Balkans countries which are currently applying for EU membership.