The drawn-out process of applying for European Union membership has encouraged cynicism in Serbia and other Western Balkan states about the value of becoming part of the bloc. Local elites have instrumentalized the accession process, making a show of superficial compliance with EU conditions while eroding democratic institutions and stoking popular backlashes against EU-mandated protections for minorities. Perceptions that Brussels has turned a blind eye to such behavior have weakened the pro-European camp in the region.

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