Notice the correspondence of tenses here.  The past simple in English is regularly used to indicate what happened regularly or habitually (like the present simple for present habitual events); the Greek tense for this is the παρατατικός.  There are several examples of this correspondence in the text.


Notice also in the second line of the text the shift in the syntax between English and Greek, where the Greek literally is "spoke of the Balkans as if they ...".  This shift gives a much more natural Greek.  The ILSP corpus has 22 examples of ΜΙΛΑΩ + σαν + να, but in most cases it is followed by the same person of the verb, thus:

Του μιλούσε σαν να τον μάλωνε
σαν να εκπροσωπεί την ελληνική σκέψη
μιλάει σαν να είναι ένας απλός άνθρωπος της εργατικής τάξης
Μιλάτε σαν να έχετε δεδομένη την καλή θέληση της Τουρκίας  

In other cases, the same person is involved but in a different grammatical construction:

Έχω την αίσθηση ότι μιλάμε σαν να πήραν τα μυαλά μας αέρα

In only one or two cases is the second clause apparently unrelated to the people involved in the main clause:

Μιλάτε σαν να μην υπάρχουν ευθύνες της κυβέρνησης στην υπόθεση

(although this could be said for example to a government spokesperson).