Western Balkans: The return of “the powder keg of Europe”?

The conflicts inside and between the Western Balkan countries are quickly sliding into uncertainty and fear and could lead to a serious crisis if they don’t agree to step back and diffuse the situation.

The latest events in Macedonia and the involvement of both Kosovo and Albanian leadership in them, the conflict between Serbia and Bosnia, and the French court deciding to postpone the decision about Haradinaj’s extradition are all adding fuel to the fire in the Balkan are which has been a “gunpowder keg” for almost two decades now.

The serious political and social crisis in Macedonia is probably the most dangerous thing that has happened in this part of the world in the past period. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that even the EU has decided to step in, in an effort to calm the tension and remind that the electoral will of the Macedonian citizens should be respected.

Director of the Centre for Regionalism, Aleksandar Popov comments on the situation and says that “if fire is burning in our neighbour’s house, it can easily spread to ours too”. “In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the problem is the conflict between Milorad Dodik (the president of the Republic of Srpska) and Bakir Izetbegovic (a member of Bosnian Presidency). This is something that even the EU hasn’t experienced so far. The problem lies in the fact that this crisis has been growing constantly”, Popov explains.

Albania is also seen as another destabilizing factor in the region since it has a strong influence on Kosovo’s government and the Albanian political parties in Macedonia.

Politicians as the main culprits

“The sources of instability in the region are infantile democracies and the politicians which are even willing to use intimidation and incite ethnic conflicts in order to stay in power”, says Sonja Stojanovic-Gajic, director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy. “The people in Macedonia, Bosnia and Kosovo all want the same things as the people in Serbia which is a safe job, better living standard and equal opportunities for themselves and their children. Politicians, who don’t have a solution for the problems of their electorate, are now creating even bigger problems by inciting fear of conflicts with other neighbouring and regional countries”, she adds.

(Blic, 02.03.2017)


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