History is back in the Balkans

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Russian Orthodox monastery at Mount Athos, Greece
May 28, 2016: Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) smiles at his host, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, on a visit to the Orthodox monastery at Mount Athos (source: dpa)
  • Unresolved issue of Serb and Albanian reunification builds pressure to redraw borders in Western Balkans
  • Russia and Islamic powers are using political and religious influence to turn region into buffer area
  • Serbia’s choice may decide if region unites under NATO/EU umbrella

The political future of the Western Balkans does not look bright. After a quarter century of fragile peace, the region is heavy with foreboding of new wars and redrawn borders. The atmosphere is oddly reminiscent of 1989, on the eve of the Yugoslav wars. A turbulent decade may be ahead.

If the region’s violent remapping at the end of the 20th century was triggered by an eruption of nationalism that had been repressed during the Cold War period by communist dictatorships, this time the cause may be an unfinished peace and the revival of an East-West divide in a new neo-Cold War.

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