Their EU accession blocked by France, Albania and North Macedonia are opting for a regional, if temporary, solution. Together with Serbia, the Balkan states are looking to create their own version of the EU’s passport-free Schengen Area.
Citizens of the three countries would no longer need a passport to cross the border, but only have to show an ID card.
Labor movement would be liberalized through the mutual recognition of diplomas and qualifications.
Students could go on exchange.
Capital flows would be smoothened.
The other non-EU countries in the region — Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo — have been given the green light to join. Read more
EU Breaks Promise to Balkan States
Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron blocked the start of EU accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia, arguing that the Balkan states haven’t made enough progress to qualify and that the EU must reform internally before admitting new members.
His concerns were shared by the leaders of Denmark and the Netherlands.
They are not without merit. It would be naive to assume that decades of institutionalized corruption and crime, particularly in Albania, have been washed away over the course of a few years.
That said, progress has been made. North Macedonia’s name change is far from trivial. It represents a willingness to move on from the past. Albania has reformed its judicial system, encouraged by the prospect of membership.
If the French were so adamant about halting enlargement, they should never have made promises to Albania and North Macedonia in the first place.
Poland’s Andrzej Duda said it best: “Western Balkans states are taking part in a race that does not have a finishing line.” Read more
Serbia Needs to Break with Russia
Russia and Serbia share a rich history of religious tradition and support. Russia has stood by what it considers its little brother for centuries and it continues to do so today. Just last week, Serbia received ten armored patrol vehicles from Russia. Thirty T-72B3 tanks are underway.
Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić has thanked Vladimir Putin for beefing up the Serbian military, but he should be wary of the implications. If Serbia wants to join the EU, it must avoid playing with fire. Read more
Kosovo Must Come to Terms with Reality
Last month, the president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, dropped a bombshell, calling for unification with Albania.
Kosovo is majority ethnic Albanian, but unification would actually hinder the progress of both countries. Here’s why. Read more
How Close Are Western Balkan States to Joining the EU?
Leaders of the six Western Balkan countries that remain outside the EU are meeting in Poland this week to discuss their possible accession to the bloc. Four — Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia — are candidates to become member states.
Last year, a similar summit was held where the existing member states expressed their concerns about corruption, weak governance and unfree markets in the region. What has changed since then? Read more
The European Protests You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Large demonstrations have been taking place in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, every week since the end of November against the government of Aleksandar Vučić.
Vučić has been in power since 2014, first as prime minister and for the last two years as president. He leads the Serbian Progressive Party, which, despite its name, is right-wing. He started his career in the far-right Serbian Radical Party, which was founded by the convicted war criminal Vojislav Šešelj in 1991. Read more
Bush’s Ambivalent Yugoslavia Policy Shaped Transatlantic Relations for Decade
Reflections on George H.W. Bush’s legacy have generally emphasized his commitment to the transatlantic alliance and its benign consequences for Europe’s post-Cold War transition. Lost in the narrative is the former president’s ambivalence toward the restive movements on the outer edges the Soviet empire.
The result was a full-blown civil conflict in Yugoslavia that undermined America’s confidence in its European allies and fueled a unilateralist streak that would animate a decade of American-led interventions. Read more