by Balkan Insider Publisher Ari Mittleman and Rauf Mammadov

“One year ago this week, the Senate voted 97-2 to admit Montenegro as the 29th member of NATO. Last week also marked 19 years since NATO planes bombed what was left of Yugoslavia.

The anniversary should serve as a reminder that the fledgling democracies of the six independent republics of the former Yugoslavia need sustained and innovative bipartisan attention from Washington, because they’re definitely getting attention from Moscow.

Our European allies have devoted considerable time and resources to the Balkans. To date, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has invested over $12.3 billion in the Balkans.

As the most frigid winter in recent history concludes in the region, the Balkans continue to feature prominently in European energy security. Despite efforts to enhance the legislative framework and its poor pipeline infrastructure, the EU has failed to decrease its dependence on Russian natural gas supplies. In fact, Gazprom supplied record amounts of gas to Europe the last two years, thanks to increased demand and declining production rates in the North Sea. The Russian budget is dependent on hydrocarbon exports, and the Kremlin is determined to protect the market share of Russian companies.” (Washington Examiner)