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Systemic pressures, party politics and foreign policy: Serbia between Russia and the West, 2008-2020

Vuksanovic, Vuk (2021) Systemic pressures, party politics and foreign policy: Serbia between Russia and the West, 2008-2020. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004323


Since 2008 Serbia maintained its relations with the West, meaning the EU and the US while nurturing partnership with Russia, even though it has an interest in joining the EU. This thesis examines the causes of the Serbian balancing act between Russia and the West in the period between 2008 and 2020. The thesis determines the causal factors behind Serbian balancing act and factors that account for differences in the intensity of this policy during different historical stages. The analysis uses the causal mechanism of the neoclassical realism (NCR) where the individual behaviour of the state is determined by the international systemic processes (independent variable) that are translated through unit-level factors (intervening variable). The thesis methodologically relies on process tracing, case study and analytical narrative. The research was based on the analysis of secondary source materials, like empirical and theoretical literature, media material and think-tank reports. More importantly, the study is based on primary source material collected through fieldwork in Serbia, in which semi-structured interviews were conducted with 31 stakeholders. There are four arguments offered within this study. The first is that the independence of Kosovo is the first systemic process shaping Serbian policy as Serbia became closer to Russia from that point. The second is the lack of permanent US interest in the region, and the inability of the EU to enlarge generated a power vacuum in the Balkans that acts as the second systemic process. In that vacuum, there was a permissive environment for Russia to act more assertively and in which Serbia gained an incentive to balance and play Russia and the West against each other. Third, the difference in the intensity of Serbian balancing act is determined by the state of relations between Russia and the West, where if the relationship becomes more confrontational Serbia is even more inclined to hedge its bets and continue its balancing. Fourth, the party politics in Serbia also shapes balancing act acting as the intervening variable as foreign policy becomes used in the domestic struggle for turf.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Vuk Vuksanovic
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Economides, Spyros

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