This final publication of the second phase of the Western Balkans at the Crossroads incorporates the project's fourteen analytical studies which have focused and analysed specific mechanisms of influence or various aspects related to the role of external actors' presences in the region. It is structured in four sections along broader topics identified as important but under-researched parts of the overall picture. The first section looks into domestic narratives on external presences and the second addresses the question of external actors’ roles in relation to domestic cleavages. The third section also puts the domestic dimension in its focus and scrutinizes the responsibility of domestic political elites for the malign impacts of foreign engagements. The fourth section differs in its focus, as it comprises three studies about the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for external actors’ presences.
The volume also encompasses a written reflection on the studies by a senior scholar, Senada Šelo Šabic, who engages with key questions related to the topic – the domestic/reception side of external actors’ presence and the role of the EU, and presents recommendations for European policy makers. The concluding chapter is written by Ioannis Armakolas, who provided the team with his insightful comments and consultations throughout the project’s duration. It offers insights into how the studies of the volume advance the understanding of impacts of external actors’ presences in the region and puts forward a classification of the studies into three thematic categories - ‘Openings’, ‘Closures’ and ‘Inside-out’ dimensions - which assist in conceptualizing external influence from a novel perspective.