Balkans between East and West: Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo

The Open Balkans initiative was launched by Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia. It provides for easier movement of people and goods between Member States, more affordable conditions for investment, residence, recognition of professional qualifications and the pursuit of improved bilateral relations. However, according to a study by The Balkan Forum, this initiative may have negative consequences, both symbolically and in terms of real cooperation. Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are not currently part of the ‘Open Balkans’ and remain sceptical about it, fearing that the idea will jeopardise their path to the European Union. The initiative may therefore further deepen regional divisions.

According to President Aleksandar Vučić, the East and West are engaged in a proxy war in Serbia, while the Serbian authorities are trying to stay oriented on the EU accession while maintaining good relations with Russia and China.

In Montenegro, following a vote of no confidence, the government of Prime Minister Dritan Abazović collapsed after three and a half months in office. In February this year, the same happened to the previous government, composed mainly of pro-Serbian and pro-Russian parties, while President Milo Đukanović is criticised for corruption, associations with organised crime and attacks on independent journalists. According to Gëzim Krasniqi, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, this is evidence of the country’s political instability, where “one of the main factors is the growing gap between pro-EU and pro-NATO parties and those that support stronger ties with Serbia and Russia”.

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