For too long, Western strategy on the Balkans has followed a Tolstoian logic: all happy Balkan countries are alike, but each unhappy one is unhappy in its own way. Last summer, Greece signed an historic agreement with what is now North Macedonia to end а decade-long dispute about the latter’s name. Аround the same time, the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo revealed a plan to reach their own historic agreement on the latter’s status. This rare display of political will for difficult compromises in a region that is not known for them has dazzled Western policymakers. Just like North Macedonia, Serbia wants to join the EU. But neither country can do this until it swallows the bitter pill of reaching a compromise with a neighbor that holds all the cards. To join the EU, North Macedonia will need a green light from Greece. To do the same, Serbia will need one from the West, which has largely recognised Kosovo’s independence.
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