That could still happen and even a brief closure of the borders, on any pretext, could do much economic damage in the region and raise tensions. It must be hoped that tension in Montenegro will stay under control and Belgrade will accept the reality. Then, in some weeks’ time, when the cement of this last layer of security hardens, the Balkans might just be a bit safer than it was before. Risto Karajkov is a doctoral student at the University of Bologna. The Balkans is likely to be a bit safer following Montenegro’s and Macedonia’s co-ordinated recognition of Kosovo on 9 October. The move followed resolutions adopted by the national parliaments of both countries recommending the step. Their decision came only a day after a vote in the United Nations General Assembly approved a proposal from Serbia that opened the way for a review of the legality of Kosovo’s independence by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Serbian government promptly expelled Macedonia’s and Montenegro’s ambassadors – a move to which it had not resorted in response to earlier recognitions from countries in the region. Kosovo has yet to be recognised by around 140 countries in the world (22 EU member states have recognised it so far) and almost all of them could do so with less political risk than Macedonia and Montenegro. Both countries border Kosovo and Serbia. Yet, the US, which ‘encouraged’ and co-ordinated the recognition, insisted on having the process completed in the closest neighbourhood first. Kosovo is now recognised by all of its neighbours minus Serbia, which considers it an integral part of its territory. This is good, but in the mid-term it would make sense only if the vast majority of countries in the world were also to proceed with recognition. The move was definitely more painful for Montenegro, which has much stronger historic ties with Serbia, and a big part – between 30-40% – of its population who feel Serbian. Tensions persist too in Montenegro following the recognition, where protesters have already clashed with the police. Macedonia by many accounts did not have much choice. In addition to persuasion by the US, it had to take into account the wishes of its sizeable Albanian community, which insisted on recognition. The move definitely eased relations between Skopje and Pristina. In the preceding weeks they had finally demarcated their common border, which was a condition for recognition of Kosovo’s statehood. The unmarked border has been a recurrent source of tension in the past. The recognition should further relax relations between Macedonians and Albanians and will probably help trade. While Serbia was very angry, Skopje’s move was in part based on the assumption that Belgrade would not respond with drastic measures, primarily of an economic nature.