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Kosovo’s newly elected prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, left, and outgoing prime minister, Isa Mustafa, during a handover ceremony, Pristina, Kosovo, Sept. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Visar Kryeziu).

A Series of Balkan Spats Shows the Weaknesses of EU, and Regional, Integration

Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017

Serbia’s short-lived withdrawal of all of its diplomats from neighboring Macedonia in late August, following a narrowly avoided regional trade war, brought the timeworn phrase “Balkan tensions” back into the news yet again. Both events are a sign of how strained international relations in the Balkans can still be, and of the difficulties that lie ahead as the region’s countries look to integrate into the European Union—and with one another.

However dramatic, the spat between Serbia and Macedonia was quickly smoothed over, at least on the surface. Serbian diplomatic staff returned to their embassy in Skopje four days after they were abruptly pulled out. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic claimed that Belgrade had recalled its diplomats due to “evidence of very offensive intelligence against the institutions of Serbia.” He and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic cited the involvement of “foreign powers,” which some of the more hyperbolic regional media took to mean alleged CIA machinations. ...

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