Central European and Baltic nations have progressed markedly faster than the other former communist states of Eastern Europe in post-communist transition. While five East Central European and three Baltic states have managed to successfully achieve the most important goals of political and economic transition and fulfil the criteria for EU membership, their counterparts from the Balkans continue to experience serious difficulties in implementing transitional reforms and merely hope for such an outcome.

Scholarly analyses of the reasons for this division of post-communist Eastern Europe have often tended to emphasise the decisive importance of the initial geo-political, economic and socio-cultural conditions dating back to the deep pre-communist histories of the countries in question. Not denying the relevance and structural impacts of some historical and geo-political facts concerning the establishment of these differences, this paper argues that there is a limited explanatory value to structural arguments of the role of initial conditions in assessing the reasons for the slower progress of the Balkan states in post-communist reform.

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