“Never waste a crisis: The war on Ukraine as a catalyst in the Balkans”, Ilana Bet-El (Egmont, Belgium)

“The difficulties and the wounds of the past have to be overcome in order to build a better future for everybody in this country.” So said Josep Borrell, the EU High-Representative on Foreign Policy, on a recent visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) – and he is correct. BiH, as well as Kosovo and Serbia, need to be yanked into the present and pushed into a better future. The war in Ukraine should be a catalyst for this.

There has been deep instability in the Western Balkans for some time, with open tensions between the ethnicities and entities in BiH, and unfinished business between Serbia and Kosovo. More significantly, Russia has been meddling in the region for at least a decade, seeking to undermine it by courting Serbia with funds, fuels and friendship, while also inciting the Serb entity in BiH, the Republika Srpska (RS), to reject the unitary state. As is now more than evident, Russian actions can lead to great harm.

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