Comment 24 Jan 18

The EU is Watching the Balkans Come Undone

Outbursts of violence, illiberal leaders and failures to reform mean Brussels must wake up to the fact that the Balkans are not headed towards EU membership but towards instability .

Jasmin Mujanovic
Aleksandar Vucic carrying a wreath for Oliver Ivanovic. Photo: AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu

Oliver Ivanovic, the long-time Serb opposition leader in Kosovo, has been gunned down in northern Mitrovica.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska entity, meanwhile, the Milorad Dodik government has recruited the services of Russian-backed paramilitaries in an overtly authoritarian turn meant to draw into question the validity of the upcoming general elections in the country.

And if we cast our memories a few months back, we will recall that Zoran Zaev, now the prime minister of Macedonia, was nearly killed in an attack on the parliament when supporters of the old VMRO-DPMNE government stormed the building last April.

While there is no direct link between these events, they each nevertheless gesture at an alarming emerging reality about the Western Balkans at the dawn of a new year: violence and the threat of violence are returning to the forefront of regional political life in a way unseen since the end of the Kosovo war.

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