By Selim Ibraimi- The United States and the European Union are making great efforts for the Western Balkans to become part of the union by 2030, and for Ukraine to maintain its territorial integrity. Last year’s initiative with 6 billion euros to offer the region closer to the EU, took concrete form during the meeting in Skopje of senior EU and US officials with representatives of the Balkan states.

Since the threats of new wars are becoming more and more actual and the economies of the Western Balkans have not improved, then the only way remains the integrated economic union. In the absence of law and economic growth, the Balkans could soon become part of another catastrophe at the EU’s doorstep.

Despite the concessions in Washington’s policy in the Balkans, it seems that the latest commitment of the US for a quick membership is the most serious compared to other initiatives. Senior officials of the Balkan governments have expressed that they wish not to lose the geopolitical moment, therefore they have pledged to implement the reforms.

Meanwhile, the EU has made it known that without concrete results there will be no financial means or membership. If the reforms are implemented quickly and without interference from politics, the membership of the union can be accelerated.

While we are thinking about the integration of the Balkans into the EU, the presentation of the dynamics of geopolitical disorder and the war in Ukraine have expanded the fog of hybrid war across the European continent. There is no safe place for everyone, whether member states or non-member states. The two years of heavy fighting in Ukraine have also exhausted the EU and the US. Voices for cutting off US and European funds meant to support Ukraine are growing in the US Congress and some European governments.

Presidential elections in the US in November and the EU in June have heightened fears that a new leadership in the White House and a victory by radical European parties could have direct effects on the course of the war in Ukraine, in the EU itself. and in the Balkans. The EU, Ukraine, and the Balkan governments fear that the possible victory of Donald Trump in the US in the November elections would undermine all efforts for an integration of the region in 2030 and a bad fate for the future of Ukraine. Some vague movements of Donald Trump during the first term (2016-20), show that the eventual second term will not be any different than the first. In addition to the anxiety that Trump may win, disinformation within the US, European, and Balkan states will increase.

The Balkan states continue to remain on the sharp edge of the Russian “knife” and radical forces. Since the Balkan region has a strong ethno-religious mix, it will be difficult to prevent all hybrid attacks from outside. The parliamentary and presidential elections in North Macedonia in April-May and the local ones in the north of Kosovo, which must be organized, are highly likely to be influenced from outside. There is no magic solution to combat disinformation during election campaigns, especially in the Balkans and in areas where conflicts are still open.

The current phase can be called a disorder in times of major changes in international politics, that of resetting spheres of interest in many areas. Since Russia is not easily defeated and remains in Ukraine with the possibility to challenge the West and the Balkan states in the years to come, clandestine operations, ethnic-racial-religious narratives, and disinformation will be well used during the election year by the US, E.U. to the Balkans.

Speaking about the real developments in the Balkans, and in Ukraine, in countries where the USA and the EU have promised more than financial aid, they may remain unrealized due to the difficulties mentioned above, that is, institutions’ capacities to cope with internal crises and hybrid threats. In this geopolitical disorder, each actor (state) aims to defend itself and increase offensive power.

Therefore, the election year in consolidated and fragile democracies will not be so easy. The current war can be considered the West’s biggest post-World War II and post-Cold War commitment to influence. Here, of course, there will be mistakes in the policies of the Western states in the Balkans and the war zones. There will be no complete winners and losers. Using the power of Artificial Intelligence, results in “the challenges to democracy in critical regions and their geopolitical implications will increase in the next two decades”.

The disruption presented after 2022, due to the impact on the new geopolitics, will have serious effects in the entire Western and Southern Hemisphere, and in particular, it can destroy the dream of the Balkan governments and the states that are in the middle of the conflict.

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