Edited by David Smallbone, Friederike Welter and Mirela Xheneti
Chapter 5: Cross-border cooperation in the Bulgaria–Greece–FYR of Macedonia triangle
Lois Labrianidis, Kiril Todorov, Georgios Agelopoulos, Efi Voutira, Kostadin Kolarov and Nikos Vogiatzis
In the last ten years, the Balkan region has undergone a series of radical changes owing to the various interacting forces of political, economic and social post-socialist transformation, as well as the European Union’s (EU) enlargement process. This chapter focuses on an analysis of empirical research conducted in the context of cross-border cooperation (CBC) between Greece, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYR of Macedonia). It outlines the unique features that characterize this south-eastern European border region when compared with other similar examples within Europe. The relevance of the case study is that it examines one of the most fragmented areas in Europe based on small regional economies with competing historical memories about the past and conflicting notions of ownership and belonging perpetuated through the presence of ethnic minorities that inhabit shared borders. Paradoxically, on the level of entrepreneurial interaction, social agents exhibit an unanticipated level of ‘aggressive expansionism’ which suggests new patterns of capital flow between the more and less developed areas in the Balkan region as a whole. Accordingly, it is argued that a long-term development strategy for the Balkans should be based on a closer reading of cross-border activities occurring in such ‘subaltern’ areas.1 In general terms, during the post-1989 period, the existing barriers concerning the human and capital flows across the borders have been gradually removed, together with the previously dominant political divide in the area.2
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