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The Politics of Civil Society Assistance in the Western Balkans (2013-2014)

Field of study: Politics, International Relations

This paper discusses the nature and purpose of foreign assistance in the Western Balkans through an examination of donor strategies and practices for supporting civil society. It draws on a series of interviews with donor representatives across the region to challenge the current conceptualisations of foreign assistance as a tool for promoting democracy and building good governance. I argue that donor intervention in the region should be understood as a short-term support to the region’s integration in the EU, rather than a long-term developmental project. As a result, donor practices have contributed to the emergence of a project-based,
donor-driven NGO scene that is detached from the local communities.

Keywords: foreign assistance, development cooperation, civil society, democratization, Western Balkans

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