“A century after the Ottomans lost the Balkans, the empire’s heirs are making inroads once again.

As the European Union seeks to increase its sway in the western Balkans, the bloc will not only have to contend with a more assertive Russia, but also with the growing ambitions of Turkey.

This Thursday, EU leaders will meet their counterparts from six western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia — in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. At the first such summit since 2003, the EU will restate that its door remains open to the region, while the Balkan leaders will pledge to undertake the reforms needed to become members one day.

The EU’s renewed interest in its southern backyard has been prompted partly by fears about Moscow’s role there — from giving fighter jets to Serbia to an alleged role in a coup attempt in Montenegro. But Russia is not the only power with a long history in the region exerting greater influence once more.” (Politico)