Balkan security after the Cold War : new dimensions, new challenges

by F. Stephen Larrabee

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This reprint contains the introduction to [The Volatile Powder Keg: Balkan Security After the Cold War]. The Balkans traditionally have been a source of instability and political turmoil. The superpower rivalry kept most of these conflicts in check. With the end of the Cold War, however, the Balkans have reemerged as a major source of international concern. The Yugoslav crisis highlights the weaknesses of current security institutions to deal with these threats. These weaknesses must be addressed if the European Union is to play a more effective diplomatic role in future dispute resolutions. It will also need to acquire the capacity to mount collective military action. NATO too needs to be restructured. NATO must transform itself from an alliance devoted to collective defense in the event of armed attack to one concerned with enhancing security in the broadest sense. Finally, the Balkan crisis underscores the need to rethink the role of the UN in managing regional crises. It would be better if regional organizations shouldered the main burden for crisis prevention or management in Europe, with the UN providing the legitimizing authority for the actions taken.

Originally published in: The Volatile Powder Keg: Balkan Security After the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: American University Press, 1994, pp. xi-xxviii.

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