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The matter of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans has become overshadowed by pressing issues such as Brexit, the rise of the radical right, and international terrorism. Notwithstanding the pressure to address these issues accordingly, increasing tensions and ethnic outbursts across the Western Balkan region are reason enough for the European Union to devote significant attention to accession talks. This article addresses the Western Balkan countries’ Europeanization process with consideration of Russia as an external actor. By assessing the candidate countries’ progress amid EU negotiations, the article suggests that the countries’ bilateral ties with Russia have an impact on the Europeanization process which is particularly visible in Chapter 31 Foreign, security, and defense policy of the acquis communautaire. The broader geopolitical framework that comprises the multifaceted relationship between the EU and Russia is crucial for understanding the dynamics of the EU-Western Balkans-Russia triangle.
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