AbstractsPolitical Science

Legitimation of EU Conflict Resolution through Local Actors : Cases of Kosovo and North Cyprus

by Bilge Yabanci

Institution: University of Bath
Year: 2014
Record ID: 1390822
Full text PDF: http://opus.bath.ac.uk/44913/


Conflict resolution constitutes a crucial aspect of the European Union’s foreign policy objectives and external actions. Despite its centrality, there is a profound mismatch between the academic level discussions about the EU’s role and impact on various conflicts of ethno-political nature and what actually takes place in practice, as the EU conflict resolution agenda unfolds within different local settings. Adopting an analytical perspective of legitimation based on local support, the thesis seeks to understand how and when local agency impacts EU conflict resolution. Subsequently, the framework is applied to analyse the complex interaction between fragmented local groups (political elites, non-state organisations and public) and the EU (as a framework and as a policy-actor) in two grand conflict resolution projects of the EU: Kosovo and North Cyprus. The thesis finds that local groups have a distinctive ability to confer or withdraw support to certain EU policies, to push the EU to introduce or alter mechanisms for local participation into policy-setting process and to counter and disqualify the EU’s normative arguments and policy choices with alternative normative arguments. Diverse local agents actively select norms and reinterpret them in order to match them with their extant ideas with an aim to push the Union to pursue a local vision of conflict resolution. This process of re-interpretation or localisation has behavioural implications on local groups as well. It approximates the conflict resolution process to local priorities and expectations; otherwise, the EU starts to lose its appeal to local groups to maintain its decisive role in the conflict resolution process. These findings help us complement the EU literature which analyse conflict resolution through Europeanisation/socialisation and conditionality perspectives. Local groups are not merely passive recipients of EU benefits. Nor do they go through a linear process of socialisation and natural acceptance of the EU agenda in the long-term. By analysing the reasons and implications of increasing local resistance in Kosovo and North Cyprus, the thesis also bridges the theoretical gap between the EU literature and broad conflict resolution studies which promotes a genuine focus to the ‘everyday concerns’ of local groups.