In an op-ed published for National Interest, Frank Wisner, former U.S. envoy on Kosovo status, Cameron Munter, President of the New York-based EastWest Institute, and Marko Prelec, expert on south-east Europe, write that the leaders of France and Germany, as seen during the recent Western Balkans summit in Berlin, must focus on real solutions for the region.
“The countries there—Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, and Montenegro—are quiet now, but it is a deceptive calm. The region is in trouble, which could easily spread to the rest of Europe and affect the interests and security of the United States,” the authors warn.
They say that the most difficult issues in the Western Balkans region are the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia and the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina which they say raise ‘fundamental questions of identity’.
“These problems are like broken bones that have been set hastily and healed wrongly: they affect everything and will keep causing trouble”. In addition, the authors also warn about the growing influence of Russia in the Western Balkans.
“Europe and the United States have tried to fix the Western Balkans and it has not worked. A new approach is needed, one that acknowledges the seriousness of the problem and accepts it will take a long time and significant resources to solve it. Past attempts have erred in one of two ways: ignoring the real problems and trying to do too much too quickly,” they write.