Serbia

Melancholic, Unequal and Devoid of Common Sense

In the course of just several days, two women were murdered in the Centres for Social Work in Belgrade. As usual, almost everyone had an opinion on who bore the brunt of guilt and why, and what was the real cause of the death that occurred in broad daylight in the Serbian capital.

Rumours ran aplenty: some said that one man was a returnee from war; it was then speculated that there were certain ties with local political strongmen; or, some said that the family was poor and thus poverty became a justified reason for the ‘micro-violence’ within our four walls; yet others...

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...

The Masks have Fallen in Serbian House of Cards

Last Wednesday 15,000 Serbian citizens protested against the illegal demolition of several sites on the Belgrade riverbank in the Savamala district's Hercegovačka Street. The buildings in Hercegovačka Street were demolished during the election night between April 24-25 in order to pave the way for the controversial Belgrade Waterfront project. Although the direct perpetrators of the demolition project breached several constitutionally guaranteed rights, including the inviolability of physical and mental integrity, right to freedom and security, and peaceful tenure of a person’s own...

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...

The challenge of moving from normalised dialogue to normalised relations

Five years since the beginning of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and three years since the signing of the ‘First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations’, the EU-facilitated dialogue’s record is mixed and contested. The April 2013 document establishing the parameters for including northern Kosovo within Prishtina’s legal framework, while increasing autonomy for the predominantly Serb municipalities (especially those in the north) and providing the opportunity for closer cooperation through the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities, as well as the...

Croatia veto on Serbia's EU talks causes surprise

At a meeting in the EU Council on April 7, the Croatian delegate refused to endorse the European Commission’s opinion that Serbia is ready to open talks on Chapter 23 of the accession book, which deals with judiciary and human rights.

According to the EU’s “fundamentals first” enlargement strategy, this is one of the “superchapters” that is crucial to the whole process. Serbia had hoped it would be opened by June, paving the way for other chapters. This is now likely to be delayed. 

Alone among the 28 member states, Croatia cited doubts on Serbia’s...

2016 Snap Elections will reaffirm semi-authoritarian rule in Serbia

Serbian snap Parliamentary elections will take place on April 24, as announced by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, despite the country’s next election not being due until 2018. To many outside observers this move came as an utter surprise, since Vučić’s government currently enjoys overwhelming support in the Serbian Parliament. Those surprised by recent events, however, have probably forgotten that the 2014 elections were also prematurely triggered by Vučić, this time in order to diminish the rule of the Prime Minister Dačić and his socialist party. Furthermore, of the 11 Serbian...

Beyond civil society: prospects and limits for civil society’s role in EU integration in the Balkans

The relationship between the state and civil society organisations (CSO) is never easy. Even more so in the difficult but presumably transformative process that deprives some elites of power - including state and political actors - and empowers citizens and institutions. The EU integration process is ideally just such a process, and the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey are ‘marathon runners’ - applicants for EU membership. The EU progress reports do not miss the opportunity to emphasize the role of civil society, among many other criteria, in securing democracy...

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...

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...

Pages