Should Western Balkans Countries Embrace Two-Speed Europe?

While the Western Balkans countries are focused on negotiating their accession to the European Union, they must not overlook proposed potential structural changes in the EU that would have a profound impact on Enlargement Policy and fostering regional connections. With the vague future of the Western Balkans countries’ accession prospects, reform of the functioning of the EU should be welcomed, as it has the potential to accelerate the path to membership. The concept of a two-speed Europe is a model of differentiated integration in which countries pursue common goals by implementing the...

Media freedom in the Western Balkans: The EU must move from words to deeds

Despite the progress made within the EU accession process and the gradual harmonization of the institutional framework with the acquis and European standards in this field, media freedom remains at an unsatisfactory level in all states in the region. While in some of them there is a slow process of improvement towards the desired standards, in others media freedom seems to be deteriorating in parallel with the EU accession process. This is a significant paradox, especially taking into account the importance the EU gives to the issue of media freedom, at least on the rhetorical...

Ivanović's assassination in the context of Kosovo Serbs’ lives in Kosovo

For several days now, international media speak about the assassination of Oliver Ivanović and regret the death of a Kosovo Serb moderate leader. In Mitrovica, particularly, but also in the other Serbian parts of Kosovo, the assassination of Ivanović came as a painful shock. Despite the sadness, the assassination of this well-known and respected leader, could give an unprecedented international visibility for several years, for the Serbs who live in Kosovo. 

In 1999, Kosovo received a huge media coverage due to the NATO bombing. Since that date, however, it slowly...

EU Enlargement Strategy: Rethinking Reconciliation?

The fact that the EU’s newly released Enlargement Strategy for the countries of the Western Balkans mainstreams regional reconciliation and transitional justice (TJ) as one of the three crucial areas that require comprehensive and convincing reforms should not come as a surprise. This emphasis on reconciliation and TJ could have been expected, bearing in mind some of the developments in the region over the past few years. Those include:...

The New EU Strategy For The Western Balkans: What’s In Store For Bilateral Disputes

The long anticipated new EU strategy for the region opens with the statement that “the six Western Balkans partners are a part of Europe, geographically surrounded by EU Member States.” The wording finally, in an inconspicuous way, recognises the six countries as partners rather than subordinate parties, the interaction with whom is mainly focused on the fulfilment of EU accession conditionalities.  At the same time, it reminds us that the six countries are somewhat isolated island in the midst of European Union and they still have many open bilateral disputes with neighbouring Member...

EU Western Balkans Strategy: On Named and Unnamed Elephants in the Room

The much-awaited new Enlargement Strategy, entitled “The Credible Enlargement Perspective for the Western Balkans” was presented earlier today by the High Representative Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissionaire Johannes Hahn during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Acknowledging the fact that some eighteen years after the launch of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) the EU Western Balkan accession candidates are still far away from actual membership, the Strategy aims to provide a credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans...

No Silver Lining as Balkans Lose Another Moderate Politician

In his last interview, published in the magazine Vreme in September 2017, Oliver Ivanović stated: "Let me be clear. The people (the Serbs in the northern Kosovo) are not afraid of the Albanians, but of the Serbs, the local strongmen and the criminals, who drive around in jeeps without car plates. Illegal drugs are being sold at every corner, every parent is afraid of this. This has also been the case before, but not to such an extent and these people have earlier not behaved as arrogant as nowadays. The police watches...

What the EU Enlargement Strategy should include and why

In recent weeks, the EU integration of the Western Balkan six (WB6) countries seems to have picked up pace. Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) have now entered into force for all WB countries. While Montenegro and Serbia continue their accession negotiations, Albania awaits the opening of its first negotiating chapters conditioned by a convincing track record in the implementation of judicial reform, while Macedonia must first implement the Urgent Reform Priorities and the Pržino Agreement. The recent change in government in Macedonia and Montenegro’s long-awaited admission to...

Macedonia's EU accession: what would a restart entail?

In his last State of the Union address, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reminded us of the obvious: that there would be no enlargement during the mandate of this Commission. He also underlined that the credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans must be maintained if the EU wants more stability in its neighborhood. On the following day, Commissioner Hahn in Belgrade launched a strategic partnership between the Commission and Serbia, a candidate country. At both of these occasions, a new strategy for enlargement for the Western Balkans was...

What’s another year? The European Union and the Western Balkans 2017

Johnny Logan from Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest 1980 with the song “What`s another year?”. Also in April 1980, the European Community and Yugoslavia signed their first comprehensive Cooperation Agreement. The Commission news release noted that “the primary objective of the Agreement is to improve the balance in the EC-Yugoslav trade which produced an adverse balance to for the latter country of $3.5 billion in 1979.” 37 years on, many more agreements were signed with the Western Balkans, yet balanced economic relations remain illusory. From 2006 to 2016 the six Western Balkans...

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