Opposition in the Montenegrin Government: Who will win the game of chess?

In May, as Montenegro celebrates 10 years of its independence, a new government is being forged with no elections preceding it - a government that is supposed to ensure trust in the electoral process.

                                                            Copyright RFE/RL

This is apparently the positive outcome of several months of dialogue between the authorities and opposition, with the...

Huge Victory for EU Parties in Serbia

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz was quick to congratulate to Aleksandar Vučić on his victory in Sundays elections in Serbia. The German conservative MEP David McAllister joined the victory celebration of the Progressive Party (SNS), apparently being a bit disappointed that a party winning nearly 50% of the vote did have a more enthusiastic celebration. Headlines across Europe celebrate a victory for reforms and EU. However, the reality of early elections in Serbia are much more sobering.

Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić triggered early Parliamentary elections...

Could the political crisis be an opportunity to overcome ethnic divisions in Macedonia?

Ethnic politics is central in Macedonia. Examples from the first multi-ethnic government in 1992, the interethnic protests in 1997/98, the near-civil-war in 2001, the outburst of more or less violent ethnic protests and security incidents between 2004 to 2016, including a weekend war in Kumanovo in 2015, show the importance of good interethnic relations for...

The challenge of moving from normalised dialogue to normalised relations

Five years since the beginning of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and three years since the signing of the ‘First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations’, the EU-facilitated dialogue’s record is mixed and contested. The April 2013 document establishing the parameters for including northern Kosovo within Prishtina’s legal framework, while increasing autonomy for the predominantly Serb municipalities (especially those in the north) and providing the opportunity for closer cooperation through the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities, as well as the...

Croatia veto on Serbia's EU talks causes surprise

At a meeting in the EU Council on April 7, the Croatian delegate refused to endorse the European Commission’s opinion that Serbia is ready to open talks on Chapter 23 of the accession book, which deals with judiciary and human rights.

According to the EU’s “fundamentals first” enlargement strategy, this is one of the “superchapters” that is crucial to the whole process. Serbia had hoped it would be opened by June, paving the way for other chapters. This is now likely to be delayed. 

Alone among the 28 member states, Croatia cited doubts on Serbia’s...

The President’s Pardon Turns Back the Clock on Macedonia’s Crisis

On Tuesday, April 12, the President of Macedonia, Mr. Gjorge Ivanov, dropped a bombshell: he announced his decision to issue a pardon  to all individuals, overwhelmingly politicians, that are under investigation regarding the 2015 wire-tapping scandal under the jurisdiction of the Special Prosecutor, as well as those that were brought up against the leader of the largest opposition party, Mr. Zoran Zaev, plus another unnamed individual who is already in...

2016 Snap Elections will reaffirm semi-authoritarian rule in Serbia

Serbian snap Parliamentary elections will take place on April 24, as announced by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, despite the country’s next election not being due until 2018. To many outside observers this move came as an utter surprise, since Vučić’s government currently enjoys overwhelming support in the Serbian Parliament. Those surprised by recent events, however, have probably forgotten that the 2014 elections were also prematurely triggered by Vučić, this time in order to diminish the rule of the Prime Minister Dačić and his socialist party. Furthermore, of the 11 Serbian...

How the Dutch Referendum Killed EU enlargement

On Wednesday, around 2.5 mio. Dutch voters rejected the EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (61.59% yes, turnout 32.2%). In effect, a small minority of less than 0.5% has become a veto player for an agreement affecting more than half a billion people.

                                                   Photo credit (©) AP...

Beyond civil society: prospects and limits for civil society’s role in EU integration in the Balkans

The relationship between the state and civil society organisations (CSO) is never easy. Even more so in the difficult but presumably transformative process that deprives some elites of power - including state and political actors - and empowers citizens and institutions. The EU integration process is ideally just such a process, and the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey are ‘marathon runners’ - applicants for EU membership. The EU progress reports do not miss the opportunity to emphasize the role of civil society, among many other criteria, in securing democracy...

The untold story behind Bosnia’s EU membership application

More than seven years ago, Bosnia’s neighbors, Montenegro and Serbia, applied for EU membership. Since then, Bosnian politicians have openly considered doing the same on several occasions: first in 2009, and then again in 2010 and 2012. But they never went through with it – until 15 February 2016, when Bosnia finally submitted its...

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