A sad centennial: Unfinished peace in the Balkans
The approaching anniversary of the end of World War I is a reminder that the place where that conflict started, the Western Balkans, has still not achieved a lasting peace. Three big political, legal and financial processes must still be carried through – reconciliation of former enemies, settlement of war reparations, and division of the former Yugoslavia’s assets among its successor states. It is unlikely any of the three will be completed in the next decade.
Serbia prepares to change course on Kosovo
The Serbian-Albanian dispute over Kosovo has kept the Western Balkans unstable for more than a century. Now, President Aleksandar Vucic is preparing the Serbian public for a new opening – recognition of Kosovo’s independence as the price of admission to the European Union. The Serbian public and senior officials are far from convinced this is the right move – some are calling for partitioning the territory and keeping Serbia’s orientation towards Russia.
A new Euro-Atlantic strategy for the Western Balkans
The European Union and the United States are again paying attention to the Western Balkans, trying to keep the region firmly within the EU and NATO orbit. But Angela Merkel’s ambitious plans for economic development will hinge on overcoming traditional animosities – especially the conflict between Serbia and Albania over Kosovo and Greek-Macedonian tensions – which have allowed Russia to reassert its influence.
Tensions in the Balkans reach fever pitch
Ethnic, nationalist and border disputes are heating up in the Balkans. European political crises and uncertainty surrounding the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump have raised the stakes. Three scenarios are possible: the West could maintain its strong influence in the region; it could pull back, creating instability and leaving a vacuum for Russia to fill; or borders in the Balkans will be reshaped once again, potentially violently.
History is back in the Balkans
The great game is afoot once again in the Western Balkans, with some of the usual players (Russia, Turkey) and some surprising new entrants (China, Saudi Arabia). The best chance of preventing a potentially blooding redrawing of borders in the region could depend on political decisions in Belgrade.
Europe’s dangerously unfinished mission in the Western Balkans
November 2015 marks two decades since the Dayton Peace Accords set the Western Balkans states on their long and tortuous path to eventual peace. Wars in the region erupted regularly between 1991 and 2001 as part of the post-Cold War disintegration of the former Yugoslav federation. The brutal ethnic clashes were difficult to quell. It took scores of peacekeeping fo...
Serbia faces major choice over Kosovo - the West and the EU or Russia
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is emerging as the key politician in deciding the future pathway for his country. He has to decide whether to back the West and join the European Union or to support Russia. A key part of that decision-making involves recognising Kosovo as an independent country and changing Serbia’s constitution to reflect this. ...
Testing times for Serbia and the OSCE in Europe’s new Cold War
Serbia officially took over as chairman of the OSCE on January 15, 2015. It is the first Balkans country to chair the organisation, 15 years after joining. The OSCE’s predecessor - the CSCE, was created in 1975 during the Cold War tensions between East and West. The OSCE’s role in 2015 will be critical in addressing new Cold War challenges for Europe and between Ru...
Kosovo – Serbia talks in Brussels under cloud of challenges
Kosovo and Serbia are expected to continue talks today to establish normal long-term bilateral relations. Only four out of 15 contractual obligations of the agreement have been implemented so far. But the talks are held against a background of challenges between Serbia and Kosovo which have seen massive demonstrations on the streets of Kosovo’s capital Pristina. Bu...
Serbia faces toughest choice for EU seat - Kosovo or Russia
Serbia’s constitution contains a preamble making claims to parts of Kosovo. The two countries have still not signed a peace treaty 15 years after war between them. This territorial dispute - and Serbia’s traditional alignment with Russia - present Serbia, which is surrounded by Nato members, with a difficult geopolitical choice. ...