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...

Macedonian Student's Plenum - A Cry for Respect.

On December 10th, 2014 thousands of students defied the Government led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and took to the streets of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city.

Despite harassment, intimidation and a campaign led by the government supported media to discredit them, the students marched to the government buildings and demanded that the government withdraw its plan to introduce a state imposed exam before graduation.

For a period of time during the demonstration internet access was blocked, thus preventing the use of social media by the students. This...

Without a clear plan towards transitional justice, the current lustration initiatives in post-communist Albania could be too little, too late

On November 29th, Albania celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its liberation from the Nazi forces. The coalition government, made-up of the Albanian Socialist Party (PS) and the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI), took the lead in a series of commemorative events during the weeks and months preceding the anniversary. The high point of this campaign was the public opening of one of the most secretive anti-nuclear bunkers in Shtish-Tufina, a village 1.5 km away from the center of the capital, Tirana. The Albanian PM, Edi Rama, announced a radical break with...

What does it mean that Serbia refuses to align itself with European sanctions against Russia?

The Russian annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol in March 2014 has caused a stir down to the Balkans. By refusing to align itself with European sanctions against Moscow, Serbia keeps infuriating Brussels. Increasing pressure on the government won’t help, on the contrary.

Serbia’s support for Russia is no surprise

During its two-year honeymoon with Serbia, the EU was starry-eyed about Belgrade’s leaders. The concessions they made to Kosovo, which led to the “historic agreement” of April 2013, put them on a pedestal. The fact that the government...

The fall of the Berlin Wall and post-Yugoslav transition

Post-communist transition, in post-Yugoslav states, contributed significantly to the uneven progress of changes that unfolded in the past quarter of a century across the Eastern parts of Europe. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the post-Yugoslav part of Europe’s former, communist universe firmly stands between the, more successful, transition-achievers of Central-East Europe and the, less successful, transition-non-achievers of the post-Soviet states.

The satisfaction that political and economic accomplishments are not as bad as most of the ex-Soviet lands’ is...

Opportunity On-Hold: Edi Rama’s Visit to Belgrade in the Light of “the Drone Incident”

 

Ghosts of the Past

It is easy to agree with the general impression that Albanian Prime minister Edi Rama's visit to Belgrade turned out to be a missed opportunity rather than a new beginning.

The often emphasized fact that this was the first highest Albanian official to visit Serbia in decades, shows the extent of negligence of Serbian-Albanian relations, complicated by the constant tensions and unresolved traumas inherited from the 1990s....

Time for a different approach to enlargement: can accession in the Western Balkans be given a new impulse for change?

The Western Balkans accession process is getting some new energy and commitment these days, but not from the 'usual suspects' responsible for enlargement negotiations and reforms. A group of academics and analysts from the region and further afield in Europe, united in the platform entitled 'Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group' have produced a new policy paper, containing an analysis of the state of...

Will the new initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina succeed?

Recently, a conference of Southeastern European foreign ministers took place in Berlin, organized by the Aspen Institute at the British Embassy. Philip Hammond and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the British and German foreign ministers respectively, presented a new initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). They concluded that the country does not function and the situation is not sustainable. The future of BiH lies in the EU, provided it fulfils the necessary criteria for membership. However, taking into account the specific nature of the country’s situation, they have suggested making...

Greater Serbia and Greater Albania do not exist: The myth of bad Serb-Albanian relations

The incidents during the recent football match between Serbia and Albania and the fall-out with attacks against bakeries owned by real (and presumed) Kosovo Albanians in Serbia and the postponement of the visit of Albanian Prime Minister to Belgrade have created a misleading hype about Serb-Albanian relations.

Numerous media reports and a recent study by IFIMES, based in Ljubljana, which received considerable media attention often note how many decades no Albanian head of state has visited Belgrade (of course Edi Rama is...

Is Bosnia a Functioning State?

The Dayton Peace Agreement was a wonder for regional security in Europe. It put an end to the most dangerous post-Yugoslav war, and prevented further spreading of armed violence. It has been almost a full nineteen years since its signing, and there has been no serious challenge to either national or regional security in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Architects of the agreement did a brilliant job of institutionally preventing any possibilities of the rearming and organizing of any military or security forces by any of the constituent ethnic groups. The impotence of the state apparatus was shown in...

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