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American Leadership in the Balkans Is Surpassing the EU’s

American-led solutions to Western Balkan tensions highlight Europe’s failures

The slow-brewing rift between the Berlin-Paris axis and American visions regarding the security strategy in Eastern Europe is best seen in the Western Balkans.

In addition to enthusiastic American support for Warsaw (even under the current regime), the Americans are now taking a new lead regarding Kosovo-Serbia tensions.

Escalation of the frozen conflict between Serbia and Kosovo revealed, once again, the EU’s inability to manage or contain the issue – either to force Serbia to recognise Kosovo, or to force Kosovo to respect its international commitments and cease with repressive policies.

So far, the EU’s decade-long crisis management, led primarily by Berlin, has yielded no definitive results. The newest German and French proposal to settle the issue once and for all seems to be unacceptable to Kosovo and deeply humiliating for Serbia. And all this comes at a time when the EU’s appeal is slowly dwindling in the region.

This void in leadership is potentially being exploited by the Americans, who so far have backed the EU’s lead in the Balkans. Bypassing its allies, it seems that the US is slowly forming a more comprehensive strategy regarding the Eastern Flank, which involves supporting the biggest players in the region – demographically, economically and militarily – such as Poland in Central and Eastern Europe and Serbia in the Balkans, even against Paris or Berlin’s wishes.

The new American lead regarding Serbia meant that they are now more tolerant toward Belgrade’s difficult foreign policy position and that they are slowly becoming aware that the Kosovo-Serbia conflict has to be solved by offering Belgrade the proverbial carrot, not only the stick.

The question remains whether the Berlin-Paris axis will realise this as well. Potential Pax Americana in the Balkans would spell additional problems for ambitions of strategic autonomy for the EU, ranging from a potential European Army to the federalised European sovereignty.


Featured image from Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

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