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Why Efforts to Build Bridges Could Threaten Peace in the Western Balkans

Sep 4, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

In the Western Balkans, two trigger points have the potential to set off widespread unrest: negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo to normalize their relations and a deal between Macedonia and Greece for the former to change its name.

(Harvepino/Shutterstock.com)

Just under the surface of the relative calm that has endured in the Western Balkans over the past decade, ethnic tensions and nationalistic fervor continue to bubble. In the final months of 2018, the region's peace will be tested in negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo as they work to normalize their relationship, especially by a controversial idea for swapping territory that could have destabilizing effects in the region. Meanwhile a referendum on officially changing Macedonia's name in an effort to put a long-running dispute with Greece to rest could stir up nationalist sentiment and political opposition in both countries....

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