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Open Balkans: Challenges and Opportunities Emanating from Tirana

The ‘Open Balkans’ initiative was launched in Novi Sad in 2019 and it had three founding members: Serbia, Albania and Northern Macedonia. It was first labeled as Balkan Schengen by its founders, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Edi Rama and Zoran Zaev, but it was soon christened “Mini Schengen” by the regional media.
From its inception, this initiative was met with mixed reactions. As this paper will elaborate, it was met with resistance from the other three countries in the region, namely Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo. It was also met with skepticism from political opposition and large segments of media and public opinion in Serbia, Albania and Northern Macedonia. Third, it was met with vacillating attitudes from the international partners, chiefly Brussels, Washington DC., and member countries of the EU.

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