Policy Brief: Unraveling the Political Crisis in Macedonia: Toward Resolution or Calm Before the Storm?

In a period of less than two weeks, between 5 and 18 May 2015, Macedonia had violent protests, a weekend-“war,” resignations in government, and continued social mobilization for and against the government, which resulted in two big rallies and the setting up of two separate tent camps in the center of Skopje, one against the government and another in its support. Negotiations between the political leaders, facilitated by international actors, brought momentary political stability; however, the question remains if the negotiations will resolve the political crisis in a deeply divided and...

Escalation of protests and violence: Macedonia awakening or going toward an abyss?

On 5 May 2015, peaceful protests escalated into clashes between protesters and police in Macedonia. For several hours, protesters rallied peacefully in front of the government, occasionally throwing eggs at the newly-made baroque facade. However, before midnight the police moved to disperse the protesters, which resulted in violence.

Both protesters and policemen have been injured and hospitalized, while some 30 people have been arrested. While...

Modern Censorship in Action

When censorship exists it is also talked about. This is true in the case of 17th century England, when censorship was imposed by Parliament, and it is also true in the case of countries that call themselves democracies, or which aspire to be democracies.

During the English Civil War Parliament passed the Licensing Order of 1643. According to the Order, a team of official censors controlled, i.e. prohibited or approved, works before they went to print. It is in this atmosphere that the debate on the freedom of the press was ignited and only a year later John Milton...

How to make EU mediation work in Macedonia

Since Macedonian Prime Minister Gruevski accused the opposition of plotting the overthrow of the government and espionage and opposition leader Zoran Zaev began regularly releasing “bombs” of wiretapped calls that suggest corruption, abuse of office, electoral fraud and a range of other crimes by the prime minister and his associates, tensions in Macedonia have been increasing steadily.  

Now, the EU has become engaged with a low-level mediation by MEPs between government and opposition, meeting in Brussels on...

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...

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