The Western Balkans is a key region in security, defence, economic and political terms. It is at an important position at the heart of Europe and the Western world, however it is largely not integrated into Euro-Atlantic structures and there is a relatively small engagement from key Western countries. The UK, with its focus on ‘Global Britain’, often seems to leave a Europe- shaped hole in its strategy. While it was good to see Prime Minister Boris Johnson referring to the Western Balkans in his Parliamentary statement last year on the FCO/DfID merger, concrete steps need to be taken in cooperation with our partners. On the other hand, France and Germany appear exhausted with enlargement, though they do offer a potential solution with Macron’s idea of a ‘Europe of circles’ - a concept that could be expedited for this region as part of a solution to continue supporting its pro-democratic direction. Nevertheless, currently the region is seeing increasing interest and involvement from other global powers including Russia, China and Turkey.
Considering the importance of the Western Balkans, and our strategic interests in the region, it is essential for the UK to engage further with the countries of this key area. To ensure effective impact it is also important to cooperate with partners and allies, especially the EU (including with both the European institutions and EU member states) and the USA, given their own involvement in the region.
The Western Balkans are at a key moment in history which will decide their future direction for the long-term. The UK and its partners must move quickly and "rmly to support the The Western Balkans and UK/US/EU Cooperation
democratic direction of the Western Balkans and offer a clear strategic advantage to the region in contrast to short-term gains offered by other actors.