In the words of the Polish journalist and dissident, Adam Michnik, 1989 was Europe’s annus mirabilis. The peaceful revolution of that year was a miracle effected by the people in central and eastern Europe. Hardly any one (and certainly no western head of state or politician) had foreseen that a popular movement active in different countries would, in just a few months, topple socialist regimes and force the mighty Soviet Union to retreat behind the borders of Russia.
There is no doubt that the states of the Western Balkans belong to the European Union. However, their road to the EU is by no means an easy one. The entire Western Balkan region is not only encumbered by the maladies related to its communist past, but also by the problems the region has more recently experienced due to the horrors of war. Many of the ethnic tensions have not yet cooled down.