Amid Greek crisis, Angela Merkel visits Balkans to discuss other burning regional issues

Angela Merkel begins a two-day tour of the Balkans on Wednesday, visiting three countries whose ambitions to join the European Union have been complicated by the Greek crisis and their mutual rivalries.

The German chancellor — who is the most influential, respected and feared Western politician in the Balkans — plans to visit Albania, Serbia and Bosnia.

All three states have a declared desire to join the EU, but in the wake of the Greek bailout turmoil Merkel and other EU leaders are likely to create tougher conditions for accepting countries with troubled economies.