The EU Strategy for Adriatic and Ionian Region in Light of Regional Cooperation for Peace and Development
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The Treaty of Lisbon (2009) highlighted the importance of territorial cohesion for European Union`s (EU) integration process. Within this process, the macro-regions play a key role as an alternative option to the mainstream integration tools. They are groupings of adjacent countries or regions of countries which share a common natural landmark and act together to improve the conditions of their respective area. They don`t require the involvement of all EU member states but only those that share a given region. In these groupings may also participate countries which are neighbouring to the EU but are not EU members. The goal of the members of a macro-region is to respond jointly to common regional challenges. The EU Strategy for Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), concerns all the Adriatic and Ionian coastal countries, plus Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. This thesis investigates what is the contribution of EUSAIR in regional peace and development. At the same time, it explores its goals and implementation, in terms of sustainability, conflict prevention and conflict resolution. Subsequently this thesis examines the problems and the challenges that EUSAIR might face and how those could be addressed through the policies that the strategy applies in the region. The thesis’ findings prove that EUSAIR is not only possible but also a necessity for the region, as it promotes territorial cohesion through interregional, cross-border and transnational cooperation even among countries which until recently have been fighting against each other. The strategy seeks to improve multi-level, multi-sector and international cooperation on issues of common concern, such as water quality, fisheries, transport, culture, tourism etc. Inevitably, it confronts with the chronic problems and perils of the region such as territorial and sea-border disputes, nationalism and structural administrative difficulties.