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Assess and discuss the role and influence of Europe in Balkans

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The Balkans are located at the crossroad of Europe and Orient and have undergone several influences. They have been under the Byzantium, Ottoman and Communist Yugoslavia's rules and all these legacies have influenced the region's identity. Europe influenced it as well, even if the region has never been occupied or dominated by Europeans, especially since the 18th century with the emergence of commercial links. However, the relation between Balkans and Europe has been a mixed-blessing for the Balkans. This region was a strategic place for European countries' interests, which led to realpolitik and intervention in the region. But it was also considered as the backward and poor antithesis of Europe, which led to demonization of the Balkans. This double-edged influence of Europe shaped the Balkans in many ways that can help to understand the Balkans's identity. However, Europe's role in the region has evolved and intensified since the collapse of Yugoslavia, and seems to announce a turning point for the Balkans.

To what extent and how Europe's role and influence in the Balkans shaped the region ? We will discuss first the ambivalent influence and role of Europe in the definition of Balkans identity, by focusing on Balkanism, believed legacies between Balkans and Europe and Europeanization. Then we will move on to the role of European interests in the Balkans, which have first been a factor of conflict but might become a source of peace.

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