The Western Balkans stand at a pivotal moment. Regional stability, security, and prosperity require a more robust US engagement. EU accession remains the goal but simmering ethnic tensions and resurgent nationalism demand a comprehensive US strategy that includes specific and actionable commitments.

In the light of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine that has shaken European security foundations, how can the US enhance its collaboration with the EU to develop a unified approach regarding the future of the Western Balkans?

Ilva Tare, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, discusses with outgoing US Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar, at the end of his term, the most pressing issues for the region’s EU prospects, the challenges with corruption and economic growth, and the main concerns for increased tension and risks for stability.

Tare asks DAS Escobar if prioritizing the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities on the normalization dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia was the most effective strategy, and what is the path forward on this issue?

Is the US considering alternative approaches towards Serbia to achieve progress on EU alignment, especially after the composition of the new government? 

Can the US prevent a fracturing of the fragile peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

How concerning is Russian influence in the Western Balkans? Specific questions on Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania will also be covered in this #BalkansDebrief episode.


#BalkansDebrief is an online interview series presented by the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center and hosted by journalist Ilva Tare. The program offers a fresh look at the Western Balkans and examines the region’s people, culture, challenges, and opportunities.

Watch #BalkansDebrief on YouTube and listen to it as a Podcast.


The Europe Center promotes leadership, strategies and analysis to ensure a strong, ambitious and forward-looking transatlantic relationship.

Related Experts: Ilva Tare