What disconcerts people living in the region today is not the fact that they have to cohabitate in multinational countries, but unsatisfactory living conditions: low wages, high unemployment, poverty. In Kosovo 34% of residents live for up to $2 a day.
While the rest of the CEE was either rapidly moving towards a democratic capitalist model, or languishing in post-communist malaise, but a least with new political and economic freedom, much of the Western Balkans plunged into war in which 140,000 people died and economies were devastated.
The path taken by Romania and Bulgaria over the past 25 years differs from that of both Central Europe, which embraced free-market capitalism more enthusiastically, and the Western Balkans, much of which was set back by internecine war. Today, both are EU member states, but both struggle to shake off the legacy of communism and a troubled transition.