Milovan Subotić

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University of Defence - Strategic Research Institute, Belgrade


The inevitable security paradigm shift is the special focus of so-called small states and regions with multitude if fundamental cultural and general identity features that are represented as insurmountable. Thirty-year period of existence of new states on the post-Yugoslav area has been marked with misunderstandings and conflicts, which caused the need for deterring each other from another one, or rather everyone from everyone. The Western Balkans is a blatant example of security sensitive region where military approach to problem-solving often was a preference over all the other elements from the so-called civil action. That is why, by inertia, the domain of enhancing military power in the region is considered as the key (some would say the only) factor of deterrence from the other one, different, and threatening. Who is being deterred, from whom, and with what, in the complex security paradigm of the Western Balkans region? Is it time for the countries of the region to break the chain of vicious circle of indefinitely frozen conflicts, and what are the ways for the change of the deterrence perception in this region, are some of the research questions this paper is trying to answer. Likewise, the paper is analyzing the reach of the economic integrations of the Western Balkan countries, as ‘tools’ for the reduction of tensions and deactivation of omnipresent security dilemmas. The importance of “Open Balkan” initiative is specifically analyzed because of its potential for additional connection of present member states, but also as a capacity for attraction of other regional countries. Thus, the elimination of security dilemmas (and eventually the elimination of threats) between the Western Balkan countries would present the result of the attraction as the most constructive category in strategic deterrence. The chance that the Republic of Serbia has (again) – to replace the role of decades long deterrence factor with the progressive one, attraction – should not be missed.



In the latest National Security Strategy of the Republic of Serbia, the part related to national interests defined overall seven most important national interests further operationalized in the part “The National Security Policy” (Article 4 of the Strategy). National interests articulated through this Strategy are clearly delineated with their vocational meaning, but through careful analysis we will notice that all of them have distinct causality. Therefore, the implementation of any of delegated interests will be impossible if we comprehend them as untouchable. Their complementarity is so capillary it is even impossible to group them. Shortly, there is no achievable “checklist” for protecting and implementing these delegated interests. In contemporary world marked with emphasized interconnection, interests delegated in this manner are complementary with the scope of international reality. The problematic part is their attainability (feasibility). That is why the key point of this paper, besides pointing out the unequivocal capillarity between them, is to analyse the attainability of certain national interests in their direct correlation. Specifically, simultaneous (un)attainability – (in)feasibility of national interests no. 1 (“Preservation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”) and national interests no. 5 (“European integration and membership in the European Union”). It is clear that the key issue for harmonizing relations between the two national interests is related to the unresolved status of southern Serbian province. That is why the paper further seeks for possible models which could enable the “reconciliation” of these seemingly irreconcilable interests. Delegated models are represented through temporal elaboration of two situations. The first situation is the extension of the “frozen” conflict, and it is delegitimized in the context of the fifth interest. The second situation implies the achievement of agreement between Belgrade and Priština (Serbia does not recognize Kosovo, but is obliged not to block its accession into international institutions). In the second example this concept is operationalized through three most important points: 1) Serbia de jure does not recognize Kosovo independence, but is obliged not to block the so-called Kosovo state in international organizations membership; 2) temporary institutions in Priština are obliged to establish the “Community of Serbian Municipalities” with complete autonomy in the areas of education, culture, language, local self-government, and healthcare; 3) the European Union guarantees that, besides the achieved agreement, there will not be necessary to formally recognize Kosovo independence for Serbian accession to the European Union. Finally, the paper does not suggest that this option is the best possible, but that it is based on attainability of underlined intertwined national interests proclaimed in the Strategy. Solutions for such “eternal” issue are probably many. Solutions which would “reconcile” national interests delegated in such manner are not so numerous. This presentation is certainly a contribution to one of them, which is probably the only one.



Globalization did not make states unnecessary. On the contrary, in order for people to successfully take advantage of the opportunities offered by international integration, they need a state at both ends of their transactions. Weak, disordered and corrupt states are being avoided as black holes in the global economic system. The modern understanding of power (strength) of the state implies six basic factors on which its strength and authority in the international community are based. Those are: population, territory, economy, armed forces, foreign policy (political adaptability) and national culture. In this paper, modern international relations, the power and influence of each state are defined through elaborated factors which create the pyramid of power of today. The position of small and medium-sized countries is analysed on the example of the EU countries. These countries are trying to have a more significant influence on decision-making process through connection within various subregional groups, such as the Visegrád Group, the Benelux countries, the Baltic states and the like. This, especially on the example of the first group, will prove to be an issue in achieving full compliance of the EU countries, especially regarding the sensitive issues such as a mass migration to Europe. Recently, we have witnessed numerous attempts by the EU members to automatically declare narrow national interests as "European", i.e. to try to "nationalize" the EU foreign policy. This trend has produced various tensions within the EU, both between member states and within the relation of member states with the European Commission, which is the official representative of the common interests of the EU countries. Dissonant characteristics that are present at the EU level, such as economic imbalance, "centre-periphery" issues, and crises of political systems, have negative affect on political systems and economic dynamics of the Western Balkan countries, with a notable increase in Euroscepticism. The unfavourable climate towards the EU enlargement from the EU itself is being transferred to the local levels which have always been a paradigm of intersection of the interests of both state and non-state global actors. During the 1990s, Turkey strongly implemented its presence and influence. Then, 2000s brought the consolidation of Russian influence through economic and investment presence, while the ending decade is marked by China which significantly increased its influence and presence in the region. Almost three decades after the break-up of Yugoslavia, the rest of Europe has been warned that there is a political and economic vacuum in the Balkans’ societies, which could soon turn into a security and political issue. If soon as possible there is no more certain prospect of the EU membership for those countries that are “stuck on the European path”, other players could enter the game more significantly, primarily China, Russia, Turkey and some Arab countries. Concerns that China could use the situation with the current COVID-19 pandemics and expand its political influence in Serbia and the region, are increasingly expressed in the European political circles. The concern is not without reason. The European response has been waited for too long.