Rule of Law

The Attack on MPs in Macedonia is Direct Attack on Democracy

On 27 April, 2017, after the parliamentary majority elected a speaker in Macedonia, the parliament was stormed by a mob.  Some were wearing ski masks. Members of parliament who had voted to elect the new speaker were attacked. The attackers injured several MPs: Zoran Zaev (SDSM), Radmila Sekerinska (SDSM), Zijadin Sela (Alliance for Albanians), Oliver Spasovski (SDSM), Damjan Manchevski (SDSM), and many others. Zoran Zaev, the president of SDSM, was badly injured, but appears to be all right; it seems that Zijadin Sela sustained the worst injuries. When the mob stormed parliament,...

The Romanian protests: democratic progress or a ride on a rocking-horse?

Throughout February, the Romanian people received international accolades for vigorously flexing their civic muscle against the government’s attempt to roll back hard-won achievements in the fight against corruption. While other member states in the European Union (EU) are grappling with the threat of illiberal disorder, the decisiveness with which hundreds of thousands of Romanians took to the streets in defence of their country’s anti-graft effort seemed to light a beacon of hope for democratic resilience. But are the Romanian protests really the bearer of good tidings for democracy, or...

Stefanović Case Will Test Serbian Judiciary’s Real Independence

After several sites on the Belgrade riverbank in the Savamala district were illegally demolished on April 25 in a well-coordinated action by a group of masked men in order to pave the way for the controversial Belgrade Waterfront project, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić gave in to public pressure and promised that the state would investigate the incident, no matter how unpleasant the consequences might be for the ruling elite.

However, eight months after the incident, the only court action related to the case is not against the direct or indirect perpetrators of...

The President’s Pardon Turns Back the Clock on Macedonia’s Crisis

On Tuesday, April 12, the President of Macedonia, Mr. Gjorge Ivanov, dropped a bombshell: he announced his decision to issue a pardon  to all individuals, overwhelmingly politicians, that are under investigation regarding the 2015 wire-tapping scandal under the jurisdiction of the Special Prosecutor, as well as those that were brought up against the leader of the largest opposition party, Mr. Zoran Zaev, plus another unnamed individual who is already in...

A Balkan byway to a big land deal

In 1963, the economist Albert O. Hirschman noted that, in Latin America, many believed that progressive change had prerequisites. Reformers tended to insist that progressive change could only be realised by overcoming certain prerequisites, often with foreign donor advice. Revolutionaries had an easy time ridiculing the reformers’ progressive measures, which were “openly and avowedly antagonistic” towards the status quo, arguing that “a basic transformation of existing power relationships is a prerequisite to adopting and enforcing any measure that threatens the interests and privileges of...

Lack of Clarity and Credibility in the EU Rule of Law Conditionality

Over the past fourteen years, EU policy makers have placed a growing emphasis on the rule of law and particularly the reform of the judiciary in the transition countries of the Western Balkans (WB) region. The EU’s strategy of promoting rule of law in the WB relies on the demand to comply with certain political criteria, in combination with the supply of institutional ties, technical, and economic assistance. The accession process generates unique, broad-based, and long-term support for the establishment of the rule of law in the candidate states. The most visible instrument for the...

EU scrutiny and rule of law priorities in Albania

On December 2013, the Council of the European Union decided to decline Commission’s recommendation to grant Albania candidate country status. The decision is left pending on country’s “continued implementation of anti-corruption and judicial reform strategies”, which will be re-assessed in June 2014. In a way, Council’s decision is nothing new. Since its application for membership in April 2009, Albania has collected a rather unique three-year saga of refusals from the EU --an...