• Elections in Bosnia: More of the Same, But There is a Silver Lining

    Nothing much changes in Bosnia. A journalist colleague of mine used to quip that since 2006, the year when a major constitutional reform failed, he could write the same piece over and over again. The names, the issues, the concerns would be pretty much identical. The West continues to be outmaneuvered by cunning politicians beating the drum of nationalism to cling to power.

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  • The Electoral Crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Last week, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Zeljana Zovko appealed through the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog to the US administration for greater engagement on the politically contentious issue of electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as closed-door negotiations between political parties continue. As a former BiH diplomat and an elected MEP from the Croatian wing of a BiH party that is at the core of the negotiation process, Zovko has put forward this party’s political argument for the further ethnicization of the electoral system.

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  • Wanted: Even-Handed US Engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The United States’ engagement is needed in many trouble spots around the world, but in few places is the need as urgent as in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Many Americans will recall vivid TV images from the 1990s of massacres in Sarajevo, the ferocious siege of Bihac, and the genocide at Srebrenica. Since those days of unspeakable horror, a fragile but thankfully enduring peace has held in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

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  • Here’s Why US Commitment to the Western Balkans Matters

    The United States and the European Union (EU) must deepen their engagement with the Western Balkans, a region where Russia, Turkey, and wealthy Arab Gulf states have extended their influence and that is considered integral to realizing the idea of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace, speakers and panelists said at the Atlantic Council on November 29.

    One European official described the United States as an invaluable partner in realizing the vision of a whole and free Europe, while a US official affirmed the commitment of US President Donald J. Trump’s administration to the Western Balkans.

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  • What Can Ukraine Learn from the Balkans?

    Ukraine wants to join the European Union, but the level of support among many EU member states is low or nonexistent. Many are afraid of Russia’s reaction and lack a clear understanding of both the climate in post-Euromaidan Ukraine and the country’s strong commitment to Western integration.

    The situation is challenging in all aspects. War still raging along the demarcation line in the Donbas, US policy toward the EU and Ukraine is unclear, Russia is strongly opposed to Ukraine’s entrance into the EU, and Ukraine itself faces the twin challenges of war and reform. Only EU and NATO accession can provide a lasting framework that allows Ukraine to master all of the challenges at the same time. The model has been proven through the accession of central European and southeastern European countries and will most likely be similarly successful in the third wave occurring in Eastern Europe.

    If the EU does not allow the country to have realistic European hopes, post-Maidan Ukraine could fail, just as the Orange Revolution did, with all of the related tragic consequences. But how can one ensure a credible EU perspective and increase progress toward EU accession in all sectors simultaneously? To achieve this, Ukraine requires a new strategic approach and an alliance of friends, partners, and allies composed of countries with similar interests.

    In the nearby neighborhood are eight countries—Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Serbia—that had similar traumatic experiences with war and destruction in the 1990s, and that now have seventeen years of reconstruction and pre-accession behind them. They have shared a similar strategic objective of joining the EU and NATO, and some have achieved it: Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the EU in 2013, for example. Those that are already inside can help the others that are still on their way and facing similar challenges with domestic reform and the EU’s enlargement fatigue.

    The reform and transition experience of the Balkans matters for Ukraine.

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  • NATO Moves Forward with Montenegro

    Vladimir Putin's Kremlin has been adamantly opposed to further NATO enlargement. Following NATO's invitation to Montenegro, Russian officials immediately asserted that they would be forced to react.
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  • NATO Invites Montenegro to Join Alliance and Provides 'Guidance for Other Aspirants'

    Statement by NATO Foreign Ministers on Open Door Policy
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  • Bosnian Fault Lines

    Bosnia-Herzegovina’s European orientation should not be taken for granted. While the European Union and Bosnia may want closer ties, growing tensions between Sarajevo and the subnational entity Republika Srpska, as well as enduring and pervasive corruption, pose serious challenges to Bosnia’s legitimacy. Safeguarding Bosnia’s European orientation will require Sarajevo and its transatlantic partners to curb Republika Srpska’s increasing nationalism while simultaneously pushing for reforms required for EU integration.

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  • Ukraine, ISIS Wars Increase Europe’s Risks in the Western Balkans

    Albania’s Defense Minister: NATO, EU Should Focus on Dangers in Five Ex-Yugoslav States

    Europe’s peace is at risk from the wars in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq—and nowhere more than in the Balkans, where several states of the former Yugoslavia form the weakest spot in Europe’s security structures.

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  • Europe’s Security Catalyst

    Russia's annexation of Crimea and ongoing threats against Ukraine are a reminder to the countries of Eastern Europe, particularly those in the Balkans, of NATO's centrality to national – indeed, European – security.
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