European Commission recommends start of accession negotiations for Albania and Macedonia, but French President Macron says Paris will oppose any enlargement until the EU reconfigures post-Brexit.
Balkan opposition parties are increasingly resorting to violence in their hopeless struggle to dislodge entrenched ruling elites.
Macedonia described as the "most promising chance for a democratic breakthrough" in Europe, as prospects for democracy look bleak in majority of post-communist states.
A harsh winter and a decline in investments slowed growth in the Western Balkans in 2017 even though 190,000 new jobs were created, says a report from the World Bank which has called for structural reforms in the region.
Diplomatic rift opens as Turkey's President Erdogan says Pristina must "pay" for the decision to punish officials after six Turkish citizens with suspected Gulenist links were secretly deported.
Arrest of senior Serb official who claims he was "dragged along the ground like a dog" by Kosovan police has inflamed tensions in northern Kosovo and led Serb ministers to resign from the government.