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Croatia, Russia, and the Balkan Great Game

Why the West Needs Zagreb

A Croatian guard looks out at the Croatian–Serbian border in Nijemci, July 2013. Antonio Bronic / Reuters

After Croatia’s ruling coalition split this April, it looked as though the country might witness a repeat of last summer’s political crisis, in which then Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic was ousted by a vote of no confidence. But Croatia dodged that bullet in June, when Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic formed a new parliamentary majority, preventing instability in the EU’s newest member. This narrow escape from impending political chaos largely went unnoticed; yet Croatia’s stability, or lack thereof, has far-reaching implications for both the United States and Europe. It can tilt the balance within the already shaky EU and influence the deteriorating situation in the Balkans, marked by economic troubles, political corruption, and rising nationalism. Most important, Croatia’s moderate government is currently the West’s strongest ally against Russian expansion in the region.

CROATIA'S WINNING STREAK

Only one year ago, it looked as if Croatia might

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