New crisis blocks Balkans’ integration into Europe

EU facing fresh crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Macedonia

Fresh tensions in Bosnia-Herzegovina
and fighting on the Macedonia-Kosovo border dampens the
hopes of the Balkan countries to be integrated into
Europe, and increases immigration pressures on the EU.
The decision of Croatian hardliners to move towards
independence inside Bosnia-Herzegovina, which threatens
to destabilise the entire region, was widely condemned by
European officials.

Croatia’s bid to conclude a
stabilisation and association agreement with the EU could
come under pressure if the government in Zagreb supports
Croatian separatist movements in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The
EU’s mediator to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Wolfgang Petritsch,
said he would sack political leaders who tried to form a
Croatian state inside the divided country. According to
news reports, Western diplomats in Sarajevo are
discussing tough sanctions against the Croats.

The Macedonia-Kosovo border, which was
closed by Macedonian authorities after three soldiers
were killed in clashes with separatist Albanian
guerrillas, is another new hot spot in the troubled
region. The escalation of violence is hindering the
rapprochement between Macedonia and the EU.

While the EU is concerned with
instability on its doorstep, it has not yet set up
mechanisms for crisis resolution in Europe. The
Macedonian government called for an emergency session of
the United Nations Security Council to set up a buffer
zone along the border. The Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe says it now supports tougher action
by the Macedonian army against the Albanian
insurgents.

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