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Return of the Balkans: Challenges to European Integration and U.S. Disengagement

Return of the Balkans: Challenges to European Integration and U.S. Disengagement

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For the first time in modern history, the entire Balkan Peninsula has the opportunity to be included under one security and developmental umbrella combining NATO and the European Union. Unfortunately, this historic vision is being undermined by a plethora of political, social, economic, ethnic, and national disputes and the shortcomings of Western institutions in eliminating potential security challenges.
For the first time in modern history, the entire Balkan Peninsula has the opportunity to be included under one security and developmental umbrella combining NATO and the European Union. Unfortunately, this historic vision is being undermined by a plethora of political, social, economic, ethnic, and national disputes and the shortcomings of Western institutions in eliminating potential security challenges.

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03/24/2015

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Seventeen years after the end of the 1992-95 war,
Bosnia-Herzegovina continues to struggle with inter-
ethnic reconciliation and integrated statehood. The
country is divided along ethno-national lines, with
citizens polarized around their respective identities.59
The dysfunctionality of the Bosnian state, coupled
with Serbian support for full administrative autonomy
or even secession and Croatian dissatisfaction with
minority status, has spurred Bosniak nationalism as
a defense against rival political and territorial claims.
Moves toward Serbian separatism can both nourish

secular nationalism and raise religious identifcation

among Bosniak Muslims, which will breed radicalism

and provoke confict. Bosnia’s institutional gridlock

and economic stagnation has resulted in growing dis-
illusionment with multiethnicity or triethnicity, which
blocks decisionmaking at various administrative lev-
els. Meanwhile, nationalist leaders perceive the civic
option, or the principle of citizenship not based on
ethnic identity, as harmful to the group interests of all
three major collectivities that they claim to represent.

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