The states that once formed part of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s experienced war, mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and humanitarian disaster. Economic growth was slow or negative and corruption was the rule, not the exception. The outflow of refugees was much greater than the migration of young people out of the Balkans today.
Protests have been organised in recent days by activists in Tirana, Belgrade and Podgorica against the damage done to the environment by the building of hydro-power plants.
They were staged under the umbrella name Action Weeks for Balkan Rivers, a joint project by various environmental NGOs, with the slogan "Our rivers - no damage!"
In its opinion, the Commission, which serves as the top legal advisory body to the Council of Europe, urged the government to consult more with the public, including religious communities, to ease tensions with groups like the Serbian Orthodox Church.
"In general we backed the law," Vermeulen, a Dutch professor of Education Law, recalled.
The High Court in Podgorica on Wednesday sentenced Vlado Zmajevic to 14 years in prison for war crimes against the civilian population.
Zmajevic, who was part of Yugoslav Army forces fighting in Kosovo, was found guilty of the murder of four Albanian civilians in the village of Zegra near Gnjilane in Kosovo during the war in 1999.