The power of perspective: Why EU membership still matters in the Western Balkans

SUMMARY

Aspiring EU members must resolve outstanding disputes as part of the membership process. This has proved a powerful tool over the years.Resolving bilateral problems, including border disputes, is especially crucial in the Western Balkans, where they are numerous.France’s October 2019 veto of accession talks for North Macedonia and Albania has already weakened Western Balkans publics’ trust in the EU.Should the EU’s influence wane, nationalist leaders will exacerbate tensions with neighbouring countries. The future of North Macedonia’s Prespa Agreement with Greece is under threat, and the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Montenegro could also prove a potential flashpoint.The EU should demonstrate its commitment to the Western Balkans by encouraging countries there to resolve their outstanding disputes, both to make them better candidates and to strengthen security in the region

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London Declaration

Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in London 3-4 December 2019

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