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Published: Saturday, 11/3/2012

Sorting out the Balkans

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still on the road, trying to tie up loose ends in foreign policy as her departure from her job draws near, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

In Algeria, she sought to help solve the problem of a separatist, extremist Islamic state that hived off from the West African nation of Mali this year. That quest was probably a non-starter.

Then she visited Balkan states that remain unstable and among Europe’s sore spots. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, and Serbia are products of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia that occurred in the 1990s, much of it when Secretary Clinton’s husband was president. Their peoples remain divided by old ethnic and religious differences.

But some of the countries have sorted themselves out and are on the road to stability and economic progress. Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004, and Croatia is scheduled to join next year. Albania, Croatia, and Slovenia also are members of NATO.

Secretary Clinton advised Albania to complete the reforms necessary to help it enter the EU, including honest elections next year. She counseled Serbia and Kosovo to sort out the differences that keep them from making progress toward EU membership and economic development. She urged battling leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina to work together to enable their country to be taken seriously.

None of this will be easy, but Secretary Clinton deserves credit for her last-minute drill to show these countries the way forward in Europe before she leaves office.

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