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.

...

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...

The new kid on the block: a short intro to the China-WB relationship

On its way to becoming a global power the influence of China is increasingly being felt worldwide. China not only plays a transformative role in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America but has also caused the American pivot to the Pacific while being Europe’s most significant economic partner amidst the global financial crisis. In the last several years, China  has come in unprecedented ways to the Western Balkans (WB) as well. Miniscule in size and power, the countries in the region have yet to learn about China and contemplate their position in the new global landscape.

...

The Brussels Dialogue Should Seize the Fragile Momentum in the New Kosovo Government

The historic Brussels Agreement of 19 April 2013 between the governments of Serbia and Kosovo, which rounded up a series of technical agreements, set high hopes for the normalisation of relations between the two. Some of the agreements’ most ostensible and clearly defined points have been (partially) implemented – such as the establishment of freedom of movement and goods, the mutual recognition of diplomas and the exchange of civil registry documents, the integration of the Kosovo Police, and...

'Skopje, you will be joy' – an account of the student protests in Macedonia

Recently, the government of Macedonia, led by the national-conservative party (VMRO-DPMNE), has announced new amendments to the Law on Higher Education. The new Law, according to the authorities, should improve the quality of education in Macedonia. The proposed amendments envisage students to take an 'external examination' twice before graduation. Should students fail the testing, they will not be able to continue with the studies until they pass the 'external/state exam'.

Shortly after the government let the public know about their intention, the students formed a...

From student protests to movement – the (un)expected reinvention of politics in Macedonia

On December 10th 2014, tens of thousands of university and secondary students, citizens and supporters took to the streets in several towns/cities in Macedonia and clearly expressed their “No” to the governmental plan to introduce external or state-tests for university students of all degrees. Realistic estimates place over 10.000 protestors at the march in Skopje, which in fact is the greatest non-partisan, civil society and cross-ethnic mobilization in modern Macedonian history.

Just a day before the event...

Pages