A European Cure for Balkan Depression

All those who have made it their job to praise stability in the Western Balkans should assess public-opinion surveys revealing widespread pessimism in the region. Stability alone can no longer be the EU’s only objective in the region, and the hope that these countries can muddle through on their own is a dangerous illusion.

VIENNA – European politics is mostly shaped by events and anniversaries. But while events are often unforeseeable, anniversaries are not.

Five years from now, Europe will be reflecting on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1, which led to a loss of life almost without parallel and set in motion a chain of events that led to the creation of Europe as we now know it.

World leaders may have already reserved some days in August 2014 to mark the occasion. It is easy to predict that Sarajevo will be the place where they will meet to look back on Europe’s savage twentieth century. But how will Sarajevo look in five years? Will it still be the capital of a country whose citizens view the future bleakly and whose politicians have totally lost touch with the electorate? Or is there a hope that European leaders will use the anniversary to announce the successful integration of the remaining Balkan countries into the European Union?

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