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Fri, Apr 3, 2020

COVID-19 in the Western Balkans

COVID-19 overshadowed two major developments in the region: the EU decision to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania, as well as North Macedonia’s formal accession to NATO on March 27. In normal circumstances, this would have been huge news. Yet now the pandemic leaves little bandwidth for other matters, even in the Western Balkans.

New Atlanticist by Dimitar Bechev

Coronavirus Democratic Transitions

Fri, Apr 3, 2020

Can coronavirus achieve elusive unity in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Their initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak shows that even the staunchest opponents of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unity are capable of working within its institutions and putting the public interest before their ethno-political ambitions. Now they only need to be willing to do so outside of the threat of a global pandemic.

New Atlanticist by Semir Dzebo and Shelby Magid

Coronavirus Politics & Diplomacy

Thu, Apr 2, 2020

Forging the Four Freedoms Initiative for prosperity and peace in the Balkans

To demonstrate their readiness to fulfill the responsibilities associated with full-fledged membership in the world’s largest common market, the countries of the region launched the Western Balkans Four Freedoms Initiative to bring down barriers to intra-regional trade, travel, and labor movement. While not identical to Roosevelt’s plans, this project seeks to ensure the same outcome of peace and prosperity through liberty, opportunity, and growth.

New Atlanticist by Marko Čadež

International Markets Macroeconomics

Thu, Mar 26, 2020

EU greenlights North Macedonia and Albania membership talks: Breakthrough or symbolic gesture?

"The decision by the EU foreign ministers to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania comes at a time when Europe is battling a major public health crisis and is bracing for its economic aftershocks," Dimitar Bechev says. "Keeping enlargement alive speaks volumes about the union’s ability to muddle through."

New Atlanticist by Jörn Fleck

Democratic Transitions European Union

Mon, Mar 23, 2020

Last time in the waiting room for North Macedonia?

While there may still be a day or two before written EU conclusions seal the political deal, the government of North Macedonia looks forward to the end of this waiting period and the beginning of the rest of its story. With so much gloom in the world right now, it would be an extremely welcome two weeks in Skopje.

New Atlanticist by Teri Schultz

European Union The Balkans

Wed, Feb 19, 2020

Challenges and opportunities for Croatia’s new president

Croatia’s new president Zoran Milanovic entered office on February 18 with a legacy to build upon and several challenges to overcome. Over the last fifteen years, Croatia has made remarkable progress as a democratic state, joining NATO in 2009 and the European Union (EU) in 2013. Even so, the uncertain future of European integration, uneven economic development, and malign foreign influence present challenges for Croatia and the Balkans region. The United States, other EU members, and NATO allies have a role to play in supporting Croatia’s efforts to tackle these challenges.

New Atlanticist by Claudia Vaughn Zittle

Economy & Business Elections

Mon, Feb 10, 2020

Will the Commission’s new EU proposal revive Western Balkans enlargement?

“For a region whose politics, both domestic and foreign, have been shaped by the promise of EU membership in almost every way since the 1990s, the coming months and years will prove trying," Damir Marusic says.

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Democratic Transitions European Union

Wed, Feb 5, 2020

Albania still committed to EU membership, PM says

Despite continued delays in the opening of accession negotiations with the European Union, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that his country remains committed to pursuing EU membership because “there is no alternative.” Speaking at the Atlantic Council on February 5, Rama reported that Albania is continuing with its planned reforms as European leaders debate the proper time to begin the membership process for Albania and its neighbor North Macedonia. “We are not sitting and crying,” Rama said. Albania is “not waiting for some miracle to happen.”

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Democratic Transitions European Union

Mon, Feb 3, 2020

Bechev published in Al Jazeera: Russia’s spy war in the Balkans

For years now, the Kremlin has been conducting a spy war in the Balkans. But Bulgarian authorities surprised the world when they recently charged three Russians in the attempted murder of an arms manufacturer. Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Dimitar Bechev digs into the complicated operations under way. Related reading More about our expert

In the News by Dimitar Bechev

Intelligence The Balkans

Thu, Jan 9, 2020

Bechev speaks with The Times of London on Russia and the opening of Turkstream

In the News by Atlantic Council

Geopolitics & Energy Security Oil and Gas