EU

EU Must Highlight Serbia’s Democratic Deficiencies

This week’s annual European progress report should focus on the democratic deficiencies in Serbia as well as the country’s achievements, in order to prevent backsliding towards an illiberal political system.

On Monday evening, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic addressed the nation via public broadcaster RTS and talked about the emerging surplus in the state budget, the newly-opened 40-kilometre-long highway in central Serbia, and an alleged assassination attempt against him.

What the prime minister did not talk about were issues relating to the...

Losing the Western Balkans in Paris

The consequences of the United Kingdom’s imminent exit from the EU following the June 23rd referendum will be felt across the continent but perhaps nowhere more so than the Western Balkans. But the drama of “Brexit,” and with it the resurgence of grand geopolitics in the Balkans, obscures the more quietly devastating headline of the past year. It has been yet another year in southeastern Europe marked by...

The parallel universe: bilateral issues and the future of the Western Balkans

The future of the Western Balkans (WB6) remains uncertain. The region is plagued by a number of persisting challenges, most notably bilateral issues which require resolution. These largely fall within the political sphere, and are primarily related to the history of the region and its recent wars. Existing disputes between the Western Balkan countries encompass a vast range of issues, from unresolved border or territorial disputes between the former Yugoslav republics to economic and property issues, identity, protection and representation of national minorities, and the status of refugees...

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...

Macedonia in 2016: Resolving or reinforcing the political crisis?

On January 15, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn came to Macedonia to seal the deal on the agreement paving the way out of the crisis via early elections in April 2016. However, the main opposition party, SDSM, objected to the elections, expressing doubt that conditions are sufficient for them to be free and fair. On the other hand, the ruling party, VMRO-DPMNE, as well as the two Albanian parties, DUI and DPA, want elections in April. The international community hopes that the implementation of the agreement and elections will bring political stability and predictability in...

Asylum seekers in the EU: the road to nowhere

Last weekend two events at the Western Balkans migratory route deepened the acute humanitarian crisis. On Saturday, 28 November Macedonia started building a fence on the border with Greece, causing the outbreak of clashes between border police and  asylum seekers,  resulting, again, in the use of paper spray and rubber bullets.  On Sunday, 29 November, the EU sealed the deal with Turkey on curbing the refugee flows towards Europe. Both events signalize...

Media Reports that Media is Not Free

On 8 November Andrija Rodić, the owner of the Adria Media Group – which publishes 18 magazines including the daily tabloid Kurir – came out with a public apology to Serbian citizens for his role in producing overly favourable coverage of the situation in the country, alongside 80 per cent of Serbia’s other local media owners.

Until that point he and his associated media outlets had been faithful supporters of Serbia’s Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, and his...

Managing the Western Balkans Route

The 17-point plan agreed upon by European representatives and key states along the Western Balkan migration route is a welcome step in managing the refugee crisis. However, it is only another step in what is likely to be a long and tiresome journey for all involved. Indeed, the plan is at best a band-aid solution.

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Sleepwalking in Brussels

The declaration of the West Balkan Route summit makes no sense, except as part of a larger strategy to shut refugees out of Europe

With several hundreds of thousands of refugees already on the move along the so-called ‘West Balkan Route’ to Central Europe, and thousands more arriving daily on the shores of Greece, any attempt to return to the orderly world of the...

The Western Balkan Migration Plan: Solidarity and Burden-Sharing in a Zero-Sum World

On Sunday evening the range of EU legislative and executive branches, UNHCR, and heads of state along the Western Balkan migration route issued a leader’s statement on a 17-point plan for tackling the migration crisis.

The document reveals the basic contours of a plan for alleviating stress on Member States and the European project writ large. It...

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