This contribution explores the Visegrad Four’s (V4) foreign policy initiatives in the Western Balkans by considering each state’s interests and policies and the evolution of joint V4 objectives. My underlying hypothesis is that the foreign policy‑related behaviour of individual states is shaped by certain roles that they assume and by their national interests. This work uses role theory to explain the V4 states’ foreign policies both generally and in the specific case of the Western Balkans. The V4 have prioritised cooperation with this region, and I analyse the programmes of the last four V4 presidencies (Slovakia 2014-2015, the Czech Republic 2015-2016, Poland 2016-2017 and Hungary 2017-2018) to reveal key foreign policy objectives and explore why they were selected. At the same time, I examine the interests of each V4 country and the reasons for their joint attention to the Western Balkan region. My analysis shows that the V4 perceive themselves as supportive and constructive EU and NATO members and see their policies as reflective of European values. Moreover, they believe they should contribute to EU enlargement by sharing experiences of economic and political transformation with the Western Balkan states and serving as role models.
For the countries of the Western Balkans, the path to membership in the European Union (EU) has been particularly tortuous. Its slow progress has created frustration among applicant countries. In 2014 Germany, stepping into the political void that had formed, inaugurated what has come to be known as the Berlin Process, an initiative aimed at injecting new energy into the dormant EU enlargement process. The author examines the political activities initiated between 2014 and 2019, analysing the official documentation of the Berlin Process along with publications such as policy papers and media commentaries. She concludes that although meaningful and proactive measures have been taken, such efforts have not been successful in persuading or enabling the Western Balkan states to implement the political and economic reforms required for EU accession.