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What Biden should do about the Balkans

13 9 9

As United States President Joe Biden passed his first 100 days in office, it appeared that his administration was putting foreign policy lower on its agenda of priorities to focus on domestic issues. But perhaps the expected receding of the pandemic in the coming months due to the success of his vaccination drive could provide space for the president to pay more attention to foreign policy as well.

While Biden seems to have focused on striking a new deal with Iran and ending the US’s “forever war” in Afghanistan, one region where he can strike an easy foreign policy win is the Balkans. Unlike in Afghanistan and Iraq, this part of Europe is where American military intervention in the 1990s is considered a success.

Three decades ago, the Balkans captured then Senator Biden’s attention. He was firmly critical of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s wars of conquest and actively supported US military action in both Bosnia and Kosovo. For this reason, Biden’s election last November was widely celebrated in both countries and brought high expectations for renewed positive US involvement in the region.

While other states of former Yugoslavia have moved forward with European Union and NATO integration, Bosnia and Kosovo are lagging behind. Croatia is a member of both. North Macedonia recently joined NATO while accession talks with the EU are expected to begin soon. Montenegro also has become a NATO member and it is currently in accession talks with the EU. Serbia is adamant that it would stay out of NATO, but it is moving forward with membership negotiations with the EU.

This dynamic effectively leaves Bosnia with no clear path to the EU or NATO in the near future. Kosovo’s prospect of joining either is currently even more remote. Left in limbo, there is a concern that Bosnia could descend into a dysfunctional state........

© Al Jazeera

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