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Wed, Feb 19, 2020

Challenges and opportunities for Croatia’s new president

Croatia’s new president Zoran Milanovic entered office on February 18 with a legacy to build upon and several challenges to overcome. Over the last fifteen years, Croatia has made remarkable progress as a democratic state, joining NATO in 2009 and the European Union (EU) in 2013. Even so, the uncertain future of European integration, uneven economic development, and malign foreign influence present challenges for Croatia and the Balkans region. The United States, other EU members, and NATO allies have a role to play in supporting Croatia’s efforts to tackle these challenges.

New Atlanticist by Claudia Vaughn Zittle

Economy & Business Elections

Mon, Feb 10, 2020

Will the Commission’s new EU proposal revive Western Balkans enlargement?

“For a region whose politics, both domestic and foreign, have been shaped by the promise of EU membership in almost every way since the 1990s, the coming months and years will prove trying," Damir Marusic says. "But the reality is that this is probably for the best: Macron was right to point out the naked emperor. Meaningful progress can only happen when you face the world as it is.”

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Democratic Transitions European Union

Wed, Feb 5, 2020

Albania still committed to EU membership, PM says

Despite continued delays in the opening of accession negotiations with the European Union, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that his country remains committed to pursuing EU membership because “there is no alternative.” Speaking at the Atlantic Council on February 5, Rama reported that Albania is continuing with its planned reforms as European leaders debate the proper time to begin the membership process for Albania and its neighbor North Macedonia. “We are not sitting and crying,” Rama said. Albania is “not waiting for some miracle to happen.”

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Democratic Transitions European Union

Mon, Feb 3, 2020

Bechev published in Al Jazeera: Russia’s spy war in the Balkans

For years now, the Kremlin has been conducting a spy war in the Balkans. But Bulgarian authorities surprised the world when they recently charged three Russians in the attempted murder of an arms manufacturer. Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Dimitar Bechev digs into the complicated operations under way. Related reading More about our expert

In the News by Dimitar Bechev

Intelligence The Balkans

Thu, Jan 9, 2020

Bechev speaks with The Times of London on Russia and the opening of Turkstream

In the News by Atlantic Council

Geopolitics & Energy Security Oil and Gas

Fri, Dec 20, 2019

Russia’s strategic interests and tools of influence in the Western Balkans

The Western Balkans are part and parcel of Russia’s strategy to establish itself as a first-rate player in European security affairs, along with other major states such as Germany, France, and the UK. Since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, the region has been at the forefront of debates on critical issues such as transatlantic relations, the EU’s security and defense policy, and NATO/EU enlargement. Having a foothold in the Balkans means having a say on those strategic matters, which are of direct consequence to Russia.

New Atlanticist by Dimitar Bechev

Russia The Balkans

Tue, Dec 10, 2019

Albania’s former foreign minister: EU made “strategic mistake” in delaying accession negotiations

The failure of European Union leaders to greenlight the start of the enlargement process for Albania and North Macedonia in October was “a step backwards” for the region’s path towards European integration, according to former Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati.

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

European Union The Balkans

Tue, Dec 3, 2019

NATO is defined by its success—not its tensions

While international headlines have focused on high-profile disputes within the NATO alliance over a litany of issues including defense spending, trade, Syria, and Brexit, transatlantic leaders stressed on December 3 that these disagreements are dwarfed by the continued success of the seventy-year-old alliance.

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

NATO Poland

Tue, Dec 3, 2019

NATO Engages transcript: Defense and deterrence for a new era

After an introduction by Dr. Karin Von Hippel, director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, H.E. Andrzej Duda, president of Poland and H.E. Zoran Zaev and prime minister of the Republic of North Macedonia speak on a panel moderated by Stephen Sackur, presenter on BBC Hardtalk

Transcripts by Atlantic Council

NATO Poland

Fri, Nov 22, 2019

Evaluating Macron’s pitch for enlargement reform

French officials hope the proposal can open the door to a real debate over how the European Union adds new members, while also limiting the political blowback for the Western Balkan countries

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Democratic Transitions European Union