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The Dangerous Balkan Standstill

Even after a quarter-century of relative peace, the Balkans have yet to achieve the lasting stability that was hoped for when the region's wars were brought to an end. And now that the EU integration process has stalled, one cannot rule out a return of violent conflict.

STOCKHOLM – With two decades of war in Afghanistan coming to the grimmest of possible ends, it is worth remembering that three decades have now passed since war came to the Balkans. Both are case studies in how the mismanagement of war can have devastating effects that linger for decades.

In the Balkans, a small war between the disintegrating state of Yugoslavia and one of its constitutive republics, Slovenia, was followed by a bigger conflict in Croatia. Within a year, a savage conflict was raging in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well. Suddenly, Europe’s “post-war” period had ended.

The Balkan wars raged for a decade. The Dayton Peace Agreement ended the conflict in Bosnia in 1995, but then came the Kosovo War, which continued until 1999 and was followed, in 2001, by a serious outbreak of violence in what is now North Macedonia.

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