By Jacob L. Shapiro
The European Union is struggling to find its way. France and Germany are talking about reforms, the U.K. is leaving and Spain is in a standoff with separatists. Meanwhile, Russia is coping with an economy that wasn’t ready for lower oil prices and a military deployment in the Middle East that looks more like a quagmire every day, and Turkey has been dragged into northern Syria and is clashing with European powers, both rhetorically and at sea.
These are developments that indirectly shape the global order because of the size and power of the countries involved. But there is one part of the world that does not have the luxury of being shaped indirectly, with a front-row seat at the same show for centuries: the Balkans. This mountainous region’s unique geography has consigned it to a troubled place in history, as much because of the ambitions and machinations of outside powers as because of its own fractiousness. The Balkan people are closely related, and