Now that Hungary's borders are closed, a backlog of refugees has been growing in Serbia amid worsening weather conditions. Migrants have been forced to seek new routes through Slovenia.
Many border disputes between former Yugoslavian constituent states remain unresolved, including along the Danube river between Serbia and Croatia. A Czech politician has proclaimed a new independent state there.
As thousands of refugees walked to Germany in September 2015, Merkel's government was ready to close the border, a report has found. The plan was stopped at the last minute only because no one wanted the responsibility.
Germany witnessed an unprecedented influx of refugees in 2015 and 2016. Many of these people return voluntarily. In two years, 45,000 people were deported.
Many West Balkan countries are steered by strongmen: nationalistic leaders who show little regard for the rule of law. As long as they keep the region stable, the EU is willing to let their faults slide, experts told DW.
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