Notwithstanding the conclusion of a number of EU-sponsored agreements aimed at deepening economic integration in the Western Balkans, implementation has lagged behind. In parallel, new developments have emerged under the so-called “Open Balkans” (OB) initiative which similarly promotes economic and political cooperation in the Western Balkans, but has attracted criticisms for its lack of clarity and the divisions it created in the region. Divisions have emerged among Western Balkan states – only Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia have joined the OB so far – but also among Western allies. The US and Germany have taken opposite positions, the former adopting a more pragmatic approach and the latter treading more cautiously. Other EU member states, such as Italy, have fallen somewhere in between.
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