İlknur Şebnem Öztemel-TDO-EU leaders will discuss the growing tension in the Balkans at a Brussels summit. According to a draft memo, leaders will renew their promise that the door of membership remains open while stressing the importance of reforms and “good neighborly relations”.

David McAllister, a German MEP and chair of the European parliament’s foreign affairs committee argued that European Union needs to be more visible in Balkans to counter Russian attempts to destabilize the region.

He said “Geopolitics has returned to the Balkans”. He added “We are seeing the growing Russian influence, we are seeing growing Turkish influence, the United States is a player, the European Union is a player, so there are different interests at stake”.  Also, an EU diplomat told that there was enormous third state influence in the region.

Kremlin is alleged with providing support for hard-line nationalists, organizing anti-western and anti-EU propaganda in the region. Additionally, it has been asserted that Russia involved to the failed coup in Montenegro, in which a group of 20 Serbians and Montenegrins supposed to dress in police uniforms, goto the Montenegrin parliament in Podgorica, shoot the prime minister, Milo Ðjukanović and install a pro-Moscow party. 

Besides, western experts have more worries about Balkans. Recently, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network released a report that shows the high number of Kosovans, Albanians and Bosnians go to Iraq and Syria to join Daesh and other Islamic groups.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, visited the region last week to show European care to Balkans did not end while the union is very busy with refugee crisis, Greek debt crisis and Brexit. After her visit, she revealed her optimism that each country in the region could eventually join the EU. On the other hand, she added“The Balkans can easily become one of the chessboards where the big power game can be played”.

In January, a Serbian train bearing signs reading “Kosovo is Serbian” was sent towards Kosovo,  Macedonia is entrenched in a bitter political crisis  and Montenegro was shaken by the assassination attempt against its pro-western prime minister last October. Moreover, tensions have flared in Bosnia, as local leadersMilorad flouted the Dayton Agreement, signed in 1995, after four-years of civil war.

Currently, only Croatia is an EU member in the region but Serbia, Kosovo and others are on the way. Nevertheless, it seems Russia will not let its influence zone to be tightened.  

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