In the next few days, the European Union will reveal its latest thinking on a small piece of territory that could blow a big hole in its foreign policy strategy. Kosovo, that fragment of the former Yugoslavia now in a United Nations limbo, is back in the news, as international talks open on its future. And the EU has a particularly delicate task.

The best-case scenario could make it possible to fill in the last remaining gap in the Balkans jigsaw. But if things go wrong, all the pieces so carefully placed together across this troubled region in the last ten years could be scattered again.

The risk is high because tensions are running high. Many Serbs in Belgrade and beyond fear that they are to lose yet another part of the land they have long regarded as their own. But many Albanians in Tirana and beyond fear that international interference will rob them of their dream of an independent sister state in Kosovo.

Years of assiduous work by the EU to consolidate peace, democracy, rule of law, and prosperity across the region are at stake. In a bid to calm tensions in the weeks just before the start of the Kosovo talks, the European Commission proposed candidate status for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, looked forward to the conclusion of a formal Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Albania, and the EU opened negotiations on association pacts with Serbia and Montenegro and...

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