Western Balkans Futures

The countries of Western Balkans face multiple geopolitical, economic, humanitarian and social challenges. Although a slow but steady process of NATO enlargement is present, none of the WB countries is yet close to the EU membership. Global actors use that as an opportunity to increase their influence on Europe. Basic security concerns, handicapped political process, informal dependencies, unclear perspectives and global developments bouse the region in different directions. COVID-19 pandemic only aggravated the level of uncertainty, with vaccination becoming another hot political issue. The EU’s tactics towards the region assume increased leverage, political accountability and credibility, and it will not remain unnoticed by global and regional contestants such as Russia, China, Turkey or Saudi Arabia.

EU’s values-centred conditionality does not necessarily correspond to the political and economic interests of local elites. Hence, there is a need for an exploration of the possible trajectories for the Western Balkans considering the EU’s priorities, other players’ power projection and pandemic-related developments. The mapping of potential trends and potential outcomes for the Western Balkans, as well as including the V4 perspective into the debate, will uplift the discussion on the importance of the region for the West, in particular, EU and NATO. By means of Central European cooperation, we hope to ensure that the best recommendations are developed and heard in the EU and the U.S.

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