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This paper gives a retrospective of the events in the Balkans in the last 20 years. Hence, it indicates the problems, the progress and the challenges in terms of respecting and promoting diversity. The Western Balkans has always been a very interesting region with many challenges during different historical periods. If we take into consideration all the differences and diversities in this region, then this shouldn’t strike us as surprising. During history the Balkan region has always been a crossroads of many events, conflicts, changes and destructive occurrences. In order to understand the connection between ethnic and the religious diversity, as well as the future of the Western Balkan countries in terms of Euro-Atlantic integration, we need to provide some information about the political, economic and social changes in these countries during the past, especially in the last two decades.

To get a better understanding of all the processes and events we need to take a look at the 90s of the last century. This period was one of the most important turning points in international relations. By the end of the Cold War there were two blocks within the societies – The Western (capitalist) and the Eastern (communist), and an agreement for the Balkans to be a balance between these two blocks. This fact was important for the promotion of the concept of the nation-state, which refers generally to both of the blocks. However, changes such as the dissolution and breakdown of the USSR and Yugoslavia, as well as the official Eastern bloc fiasco, brought an increase in the individual identity of the citizens living in these countries.

This was the beginning of a new era to be characterized by conflicts, wars, refugees, humanitarian crises, a large number of casualties and injured people, because of the idea that the emerging countries, especially from the Balkan region, should be nation-state countries, i.e. composed of a nation thereby ignoring the ethnic and religious differences or the unrecognized diversity of the citizens of different ethnic groups living in these countries.

The establishment of the Euro-Atlantic integration concept as a key national and state priority of almost every country in this region led to the understanding of differences as an asset, and not as an obstacle for the faster integration to the EU and NATO. This fact undoubtedly contributed to the establishment of the criteria for membership, and in particular to the promotion of the rights and freedoms of minorities as most important for the integration process.

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the strongest supporters of the region in terms of seeing Western Balkans countries all achieve their rightful place along the pathway of EU ∗ Retrieved from the offical web site of the UK Government 100-years-later 9 SEEU Review | Special Edition | Volume 10 | Issue 1 | 2014 and NATO integration. The driving motivation for this is our interest in enhancing security and prosperity in the region.” Speakers at the

. - Public Opinion Regarding the ‘Name Dispute,’ Perceptions about Macedonian-Greek Relations and EU and NATO Integrations (2016). Institute for Political Research, Skopje. Retrieved from - Rama: Projekti ynë aktual është Evropa e Madhe, jo Shqipëria e Madhe (2014, October 21). Sot News. Retrieved from - Ragaru, N.. (2008, January). Macedonia: Between Ohrid and

. 64-73 Seppel; K. (2015), ’Media ja infoväli’, Eesti ühiskonna lõimumismonitooring, Balti uuringute instituut, pp. 87-97. (last accessed 4 November 2015). Skerret, D. M. (2013), ‘The 2011 Estonian high school language reform in the context of critical language policy and planning’, Current Issues in Language Planning, pp. 1-27. Steen, A. (2010), ‘National Elites and the Russian Minority Issue: Does EU- NATO Integration Matter’, European Integration, 32, 2), pp. 193-212. Tsygankov, A. P. (2013), ‘Moscow’s Soft Power

NATO integration but not without paying a price which begins with the Kosova issue, as well as a review of the strategic alliance with Russia. Belgrade might preserve the traditional ties with Russia, but should prioritize relations with the great centers of European and global policy, the EU, NATO and the U.S. However, there is a distinction to be made here. SEEU Review | Special Edition | Volume 10 | Issue 1 | 2014 188 Serbia's political will is clearly expressed in relation to the Serbia's EU integration. But whether Serbia's relations with NATO are at