Euroatlantic Integration in Western Balkans: Lessons for Ukraine

Vitalii Martyniuk
Master of International Relations, Executive Director of the Centre for Global Studies ‘Strategy XXI’

DOI 10.37837/2707-7683-2020-40

Abstract. Ukraine’s constitutionally enshrined goal to become a NATO member encourages the state to more intensively explore and utilise the experience of the countries that have recently joined the Alliance, i.e. the countries of the Western Balkans. Their NATO integration comes amid relatively recent independence, resolution of post-war problems, and countering Russia’s influence in the region. This issue is similar for Ukraine, and therefore the article is devoted to studying the attitude and requirements of NATO to new candidate countries and a comparative analysis of the key features of Euro-Atlantic integration in the Western Balkans and mechanisms to counter them employed by Russia.
The stability of the Western Balkans is seen by the Alliance as one of the key factors in Euro-Atlantic security, and NATO has made a political decision on the membership of the states of the region, some of which – Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia – have already achieved this goal. NATO is not reducing its focus on the region, as Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a candidate country. The Alliance is also developing an in-depth partnership with Serbia to transform the region into an area of peace, security, and stability.
Russia’s priority goal is to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, as this will mean the final withdrawal of our country from the sphere of Russian influence. Meanwhile, Moscow will continue its anti-Alliance activities in the Western Balkans, pursuing a dual goal of diverting NATO’s attention from Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and maintaining and strengthening its influence in the region.
The conclusions made in the article can be used to further develop Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO, prepare the country for membership in the Alliance and in the process of writing annual national programmes and planning activities for their implementation.
Keywords: Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, Western Balkans, NATO, Russian Federation.

Download Article (ukr)

1. ‘64% ukraintsiv pidtrymuiut vstup do YeS, 51% – do NATO’ (2019). Yevropeiska Pravda, 27 December [online]. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2020] [in Ukrainian]
2. Perepelytsia, G. (ed.). (2004). Ukraina na shliakhu do NATO: cherez radykalni reformy do nabuttia chlenstva [Ukraine on the Path to NATO: Through Radical Reforms to Membership]. Kyiv: Stylos, National Institute for Strategic Studies, FES. [in Ukrainian]
3. Levyk, B. (2008). Dosvid yevropeiskykh krain pid chas vkhodzhennia u mizhnarodnu systemu kolektyvnoi bezpeky na shliakhu do vstupu v NATO [The Experience of European Countries in Joining the International System of Collective Security on the Way to NATO Membership]. Lviv Polytechnic National University, Issue 637, pp. 172-179. [in Ukrainian]
4. Soskin, O. (ed.) (2007). Partnerstvo zarady bezpeky: dosvid krain NATO ta ukrainska perspektyva? [Partnership for Security: NATO’s Experience and Ukraine’s Perspective?]. Kyiv: Institute of Society Transformation, 336 p. [in Ukrainian]
5. Martynchuk, I. (2010). Vnutrishnopolitychnyi rozvytok Slovatskoi Respubliky v konteksti yevroatlantychnoi intehratsii (1993–2004) [Domestic Political Development of the Slovak Republic in the Context of Euro-Atlantic integration (1993–2004)]. Kyiv: Slavonic University. [in Ukrainian]
6. Maistrenko, Yu. (2015). NATO Factor in Western Balkans States’ Foreign Policy in the Beginning of the XXI Century. European Political and Law Discourse, vol. 2, Issue 4. pp. 53-58. [in English]
7. ‘Stoltenberg: Zapadni Balkan od strateškog značaja za NATO’, (2018)., 30 January [online]. Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2020] [in Serbian]
8. Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to NATO (2004). Chronology of Slovenia’s Accession to NATO [online]. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2020] [in English]
9. Sabic, Z., Bukowski, Ch. (2002). Small States in the Post-Cold War World: Slovenia and NATO Enlargement. Westport: Praeger. [in English] DOI 10.2307/3185596
10. Lulić, M. (2018). Ulazak Republike Hrvatske u NATO [Accesion of the Republic of Croatia to NATO]. Gospić: Polytechnic “Nikola Tesla”, pp. 17-28. Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2020] [in Croatian]
11. Ministry of Defense of Albania (2010). History of NATO-Albania relations [online]. Available at: [Accessed 16 May 2020] [in English]
12. Institute for Democracy and Mediation (2007). Albanian perceptions on NATO integration [online]. Available at: [Accessed 16 May 2020] [in English]
13. CEDEM (2016). Politicko javno mnjenje Crne Gore. NATO integracija [Political Public Opinion of Montenegro. NATO Integration] [online]. Available at: [Accessed 17 May 2020] [in Montenegrin]
14. Special state prosecutor’s office of Montenegro (2016). Evidence and details of the case formed regarding the criminal offences of creation of criminal organisation and attempted terrorism [online]. Available at: [Accessed 17 May 2020] [in English]
15. ‘Aнкета на ИРИ: Паѓа поддршката за членство во ЕУ и НАТО’ (2016). MKD, 9 June [online]. Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2020] [in Macedonian]
16. ‘Russia actively stoking discord in Macedonia since 2008, intel files say’ (2017). The Guardian, June [online]. Available at: 2008-intel-files-say-lea [Accessed 18 May 2020] [in English]
17. Foreign Policy Initiative BH (2018). Proširenje NATO-a na Bosnu i Hercegovinu [NATO Enlargement in Bosnia and Herzegovina] [online]. Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2020] [in Bosnian]
18. Government of the Republic of Serbia (2007). Rezolucija Narodne skupštine o zaštiti suvereniteta, teritorijalnog integriteta i ustavnog poretka Republike Srbije [Resolution of the National Assembly on the protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the constitutional order of the Republic of Serbia] [online]. Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2020] [in Serbian]
19. CEAS (2019). Serbia and the New Horizons – Citizens on Security Challenges, NATO, USA, Kosovo and Regional Cooperation [online]. Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2020] [in English]
20. Bechev, D. (2019). Russia’s strategic interests and tools of influence in the Western Balkans. NATO StratCom CoE, 34 p. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 24 May 2020] [in English]