Slovene Leader Urges Fast EU Balkan Push to Quell Border Risks
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union should accelerate its expansion into the Western Balkans, Slovenia’s president said, advocating a faster process to quash “dangerous” ideas of redrawing the map of the continent’s most volatile region.
President Borut Pahor rattled politicians in the countries that emerged from the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia last month when he floated the question of the “peaceful dissolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina” in a meeting with the leaders of that nation’s three ethnic groups.
The EU and the U.S. have long argued that rethinking Balkan frontiers would pose a risk to the stability in a region still struggling to come to terms with the wars of the 1990s, Europe’s deadliest post-World War II conflict. On Friday, Pahor also rejected the idea.
“At some point, I was thinking about the idea of redrawing borders, but reverted to being strongly opposed to the idea after it became apparent that even though the process may start peacefully it would not end in peace,” Pahor, whose country Slovenia split from Yugoslavia after a 10-day war in 1991, said at a press conference in Ljubljana.
Slovenia’s government, led by nationalist Prime Minister Janez Jansa, will take over the EU’s rotating presidency for the second half of the year and will have some say in shaping the bloc’s agenda.
Only faster EU expansion can put an end to “dangerous ideas about changing borders,” Pahor said. Earlier this week he said he floated the question of Bosnia’s dissolution only “out of concern.”
Bosnia-Herzegovina, where a 1995 U.S.-brokered agreement created a fragile peace under international supervision between Bosnian-Muslims and Croats in one enclave and Bosnian Serbs in another, is particularly vulnerable to territorial disputes.
The leader of Bosnian Serbs, Miroslav Dodik, who counts among his allies Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, has repeatedly called for the secession of his entity from the rest of Bosnia.
The last time the idea of changing borders in the region surfaced was in 2018, when Vucic and former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci discussed it as a path of solving their frozen conflict and arriving to mutual recognition.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, following a war on its territory that ended by NATO strikes against Belgrade in 1999.
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