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Democracy at risk in Balkans, divisions growing, Croatia warns

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By Reuters
Democracy at risk in Balkans, divisions growing, Croatia warns
Democracy at risk in Balkans, divisions growing, Croatia warns   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

BRUSSELS – Democracy is at risk in the Balkan countries seeking to join the European Union, while Bosnia is a particular concern, Croatia’s foreign minister said on Monday as EU foreign ministers gathered to discuss the region.

“The situation in the Western Balkans is getting worse, divisions are deepening … we also see the threat to democracy,” Grlic Radman told reporters.

He also warned against calls for separatism in Bosnia. “Actions echoing the 1990s need to stop,” he added, referring to the ethnic conflicts of that decade following the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Bosnia is experiencing its gravest political crisis since the end of the war in the 1990s, reviving fears of a new conflict after Bosnian Serbs at the end of July blocked the work of the central government.

Germany threatened on Friday to cut financial support to Bosnia, labelling calls for parts of Bosnia to secede or for the Balkan state to be weakened “irresponsible and unacceptable” and naming Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik as a particular culprit.

Under the U.S.-sponsored Dayton peace accords that ended the devastating 1992-1995 war, Bosnia was split into two autonomous regions – the Serb Republic and the Federation dominated by Croats and Muslim Bosniaks, linked by a weak central government.

The country’s constitution is part of the peace deal.