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We have always played the game with the Balkans as being adjacent to the Middle East.
The reason I am pretty sure we have been playing wrongly is that one of the cards in Alternate Histories (Turkey Opens the Straits) lets the Axis player only count those areas (and the Black Sea and Med) as adjacent.
Page 7 of the basic QMG Rules:
"Specifically, the Middle East and the Balkans are not adjacent, and Black Sea and Mediterranean are not adjacent."