Bosnia-Herzegovina after EU association. Four challenges ahead

On March 16, 2015 the foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states gave the green light for the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the European Union (EU) to enter into force. The SAA is a treaty with a complex story. Back in 2005 its signature quickly became burdened by OHR-mandated conditionality on police reform, which the EU finally put aside after accepting cosmetic changes in 2008. However, after a three year ratification process, the agreement had to be frozen before it could enter into force because in 2009 Bosnia was found in...

The end of conditionality in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

At their monthly meeting in Brussels on March 16, the European Union’s foreign ministers are expected to decide that a pre-accession agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina should take effect. With the stroke of a pen, the foreign ministers will discard the notion that EU conditionality might be used to propel constitutional reform in Bosnia, reversing a policy that has been in force for many years.

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The EU’s Energy Union – An Opportunity for the Western Balkans

Policymakers and pundits in the Western Balkans should take note as energy has once more come into the spotlight in Brussels.  On  February 25th the European Commission unveiled its blueprint for an Energy Union, an instrument intended to both deepen integration and bolster EU’s bargaining power vis-à-vis external suppliers such as Russia’s Gazprom.  While the final version falls short of the ambitious ...

A reflection on the emerging politics of resistance in Macedonia

For the past few months we have been witnessing an abundant expression of resistance in Macedonia, manifested by the dissent of different social groups from students, professors, part-time workers, journalists, teachers to high-school students. All of them, for different reasons, and organized under different Plenums, have displayed their resentment against the authoritarian practices of the regime of Nikola Gruevski, the current Prime Minister of Macedonia. This blog post aims to dispel the persisting myth in Macedonia which holds that the citizens are passive and not very keen to express...

EU enlargement, the (meagre) results of the Italian EU Council Presidency

On January 13, with the handover to Latvia, the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has reached its end. And also with regard to EU enlargement policy, the results of the semester remain meagre. The only formal step ahead for the countries of the Western Balkans towards European integration has been the opening of four new chapters of negotiations with Montenegro, in addition to the launch of the Adriatic-Ionian macro-regional strategy. Serbia and Albania, the major countries of the region, are not moving, nor are Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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An Authoritarian Regime Fighting To Survive - A more likely view of the “spy drama” in Macedonia

In a surreal turn of events, Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of Macedonia, accused Zoran Zaev, leader of the main opposition party, for plotting a coup d'etat with the help of a foreign secret service. A week later, Zaev revealed wire-tapped phone conversations of himself, journalists, leaders of Albanian political parties and members of Gruevski's cabinet. Zaev accused the government of the abuse of power and for illegally following the communication of about 20,000 people in the last several years. He announced criminal...

First „return to Europe“, then to the 1990s

Almost two years after it joined the European Union, Croatia is still in a rather deep economic crisis, which has resulted in high unemployment and continued decrease of the country’s GDP. Although there are some signs of recovery, it will take time before the first positive trends are felt by the general population. At the same time, however, there are no benefits of EU membership that could be easily recognised by the general population. Not many expected a miracle and thus few are disappointed. However, one would expect in these circumstances for political life in the country to be...

ICJ dismissed Croatia and Serbia genocide claims: A chance to forget the past?

On February 3, 2015, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decided to reject both the claim of Croatia and the counter-claim of Serbia. The outcome of this dispute is a logical outcome. The jurisdiction of the ICJ was limited to genocide, and this fearsome threshold was not passed. It is important to note that, as far as the conflicts in Croatia are concerned, the ICTY did not indict (let alone convict) any individual on the charge of genocide. Since the ICJ has based most of its fact-finding (just like in the Bosnian case) on the fact-finding of the ICTY, the outcome was predictable....

Traitors, Bombs, Spies and Coup - Macedonian Political Surrealism

On 31st January 2015 the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, publicly announced that the state institutions are persecuting Mr. Zoran Zaev, the leader of the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) opposition party, for espionage and violence against representatives of top state authorities with a purpose of violently undermining the constitutional order.  Gruevski claims that he held four meetings with Zaev in the period between September and November 2014, during which  Zaev pushed for forming a technical government under the threat that...

Deciphering the Greek Election Results: A Few Preliminary Thoughts

The verdict of the Greek people in the national elections of 25 January 2015 was loud and clear. The Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) prevailed, winning 36.3% of votes against 27.8% of New Democracy (ND), the main centre-right party. The Greek voters unequivocally expressed their exhaustion, despair and resent caused by a five-year-long period of recession and austerity policies.

The far-right party of Golden Dawn (XA) got 6.3% of votes despite a series of revelations concerning its criminal activities and the imprisonment of almost its entire political...

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