THE ROLE OF WESTERN BALKANS IN NATO STRATEGIC THINKING: REFLECTIONS ON CONTINUITY AND CHANGES IN SEEKING FOR A NEW RELEVANCE
Recently changed global political, security, and strategic context put NATO strategic thinking to new tests. The ability to adapt to unique circumstances and find a suitable position in international society is again on the NATO agenda. This paper investigates processes on the road ahead of the NATO members to a new NATO strategic concept, emphasizing Western Balkans countries and territories and their efforts to play new roles. Contemporary perception of China threat, Russian aggressive behavior in its neighborhood, pandemics, and climate change seem to put away Western Balkans from the NATO agenda. The authors claim that NATO must hold back its tier built in previous decades. Some Western Balkans countries became members, but the others remained possible sources of regional instability. Also, this is the region where most great powers clash their interests and fight diplomatically and economically for achieving their particular foreign policy goals. If striving to remain relevant in the area, NATO must (re)discover new roles with appropriate answers.
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