Europe’s Balkan Reluctance

Reading this stark judgment on Europe’s performance of leadership in the Balkan conflicts from Foreign Policy, one can see how easily Russia established its influence in Southeastern Europe (or at least enough influence to take over the gas transit).

Something is terribly wrong with Joe Biden visiting the Balkans next week. It isn’t his expertise that is at issue. Few Americans understand the region better than Biden, who had the temerity to call Slobodan Milosevic, the late Serbian dictator, a “war criminal,” to his face. The problem is that a visit from the vice president of the United States is even needed nine years after Milosevic lost power, a decade after NATO intervened in Kosovo, and 14 years after determined U.S. diplomacy ended the war in Bosnia.

Sadly, Biden’s visit to Serbia, Kosovo, and, most especially, Bosnia, is all too necessary. The reason is simple: Europe is still not up to resolving its own security problems. Brussels is indifferent at best, and divided at worst, when it comes to the pressing issues in the Balkans. Five EU states still do not recognize Kosovo. The European Union lacks a viable policy toward Bosnia, leaving Washington to lobby most consistently for the steps that would bring the country into the EU.