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Macedonia is moving forward with changing its name and securing membership in the EU and NATO, even though a referendum to approve these steps failed to meet minimum turnout requirement. But the damage has already been done. Russia, which does not want to see another Balkan country absorbed into Western institutions, has gained clout and could potentially scupper the process. That would leave Macedonia in limbo, creating further instability in this already volatile region.
Professor Dr. Blerim Reka
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.
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
Three river projects in the Balkans have geopolitical importance for the region, its ecosystems, economy, politics and Russia’s role. Serbia remains Russia’s main ally, surrounded by Nato neighbours. But Russian support comes at a price and soon Serbia must choose between the European Union or Russia and between a source of income from the South Stream gas pipeline...
Initial Balkan enthusiasm for Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline and the chance for the region to be at the energy crossroads for Europe has faded. But energy remains at the centre of a geopolitical battleground involving Europe and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to rebuild a wider Russia. There is no sign his ambition will end in Crimea.