In the upcoming year, the European Union should, with the support of a more involved Washington, envision ways to resolve the Western Balkans' standstill, particularly with regards to the threat of escalation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the deadlock in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, diplomatic sources in Brussels said on Dec. 29.
Discussing the changes 2021 brought to the world, Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, warned that "the increasingly frequent divisive rhetoric and actions in the Western Balkans, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, have hindered efforts to bring the region's six countries closer to a European future."
Determined to participate more actively in resolving the Balkan's "unfinished business," Washington's new administration has also named new envoys to the Western Balkans, professionals with hands-on experience in local affairs. However, it is yet to be seen what policy Germany's new government will adopt toward the Balkans, a factor that has always held weight in the region.
Sources within the EU further maintain that French President Emmanuel Macron should also be expected to increase his country's involvement in overcoming the region's "new tensions". Expounding on France's plans for chairing the Union as of Jan. 1, Macron -- who will face elections in April -- cautioned that "history is returning" to the Western Balkans, which can "sometimes be tragic."
Officials within the EU Council of Ministers have stated that both Union members and the European Commission are quite worried by the Western Balkans' overall lack of progress with regards to key reforms in the rule of law and fundamental freedoms. The crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the impasse in negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina are considered the region's most grievous issues.