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The western Balkans has seen important advances in regional stabilization and Euroatlantic integration, but challenges remain. Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union in 2013. Serbia and Kosovo signed an agreement normalizing relations that, if successful, should see breakaway Kosovar Serb municipalities integrated into Kosovo’s political system. Serbia obtained formal EU candidate status in 2013 and is embarking on the long-term process of negotiating EU accession requirements. Montenegro has also started this process. Having organized peaceful elections in 2013, Albania hopes to win EU candidacy status by 2014. However, Macedonia’s EU candidacy status, conferred in 2005, remains stalled, as does its bid to join NATO, owing to Greece’s objections over its constitutional name. And Bosnia-Herzegovina has not overcome ethnic polarization in order to secure the political stability needed to advance its EU prospects. Across the region, domestic political institutions are maturing but serious challenges remain. Inadequate separation of government powers breeds corruption, ethnic division and partisan polarization remain, and marginalized groups remain excluded from the electoral and legislative process. As a result, government accountability and transparency suffer.
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