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Smuggling in Southeast Europe analyzes and reviews the connection between the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and the growth of the trans-border crime in the region, and also looks at the related issue of corruption. The paper
highlights the decisive impact the Yugoslav wars had on the
development of the regional criminal networks, which were often set
up and maintained not only with the knowledge, but even with active
participation of the highest state officials.
The research also represents a contribution to the
study of conflicts in the Western Balkans. The majority of existing
interpretations of causes, course and consequences of the Yugoslav
wars try to provide the answers through ethno-political
explanations. They unjustly ignore the importance that interweaving
of interests of political elites, the organized crime groups, which
appeared in this period, and the "mediating class" of corrupt state
officials had in this process.
The paper is divided in three parts:
- An analysis of the causes and course of emergence
of Balkan smuggling channels in the context of Yugoslav wars and
- A review of the recent developments in trans-border
crime in Southeast Europe
- An overview of prevention efforts, undertaken both
by the regional governments and the international community
The first part analyzes the emergence of officially
sanctioned "state-building" smuggling in those parts of the former
Yugoslavia, which were involved in the war. The intermediary role
of Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania is also discussed. In
these four countries, smuggling networks were not developed under
open patronage of the governments, but the role of high-positioned
politicians was nevertheless extremely important.
The second part traces the evolution of the initial semi-official
smuggling channels and their transformation into "classical"
criminal networks. The so-called "suitcase trade," cigarette
smuggling, smuggling of narcotics, and the trafficking in human
beings are discussed in more detail.
The third part reviews and comments the
efforts of the regional governments and the international community
to fight the trans-border crime in the region and the corruption,
linked to this crime. The paper concludes that despite several
positive recent developments, successful fight against the
trans-border crime and corruption is hampered by the fact that the
regional approach in counteracting trans-border crime and
corruption is still overshadowed by individual national efforts.
The paper offers an argument in support of regional and
transnational programs and efforts, since only such programs can
realistically and successfully approach the trans-national
challenges, facing both Southeast Europe and the European