Democratic Consolidation

Analysis of the Macedonian Presidential Elections

On 13th of April, Macedonia had its first round of the Presidential elections. The incumbent, Professor Gjorgje Ivanov, supported by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, faced three challengers: Stevo Pendarovski supported by the former communist SDSM; Iljaz Halimi from the ethnic Albanian opposition party, DPA and Zoran Popovski from the newly founded GROM. Turnout was 49%, less than in 2009 when at the first round of presidential elections it was 57%, and much less than at the last local elections last spring when turnout was 67%. The coalition partner of VMRO-DPMNE, ethnic Albanian party the...

Revisiting the Legality of Kosovo’s Independence in the Light of Crimea

The Russian President Putin and the Crimean Declaration of Independence employed the Kosovo case in attempt to defend the legality of Crimea’s secession and annexation by Russia. This analogy commences with a paradox as Russia has continuously maintained that Kosovo’s independence was in violation of international law.

Be that as it may, the recent developments in the Crimea have revitalized the debate on Kosovo’s statehood, prompting politicians and academics to re-examine its legality.

Some scholars have rightly recalled that unlike in the Crimea where no...

Why Kosovo constitutes a legal precedent and Crimea does not (yet)

On 27 March 2014, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a non-binding resolution entitled “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine”, calling on States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, and to refrain from actions or dealings that might be interpreted as such.

By a...

What the elections mean for Serbian democracy

When Aleksandar Vučić gave his victory speech on Sunday, after the resounding victory of his Progressive Party, his seriousness seemed in no proportion to his success. For the first time, since the second multi-party elections in 1992, can a single party govern the country alone. With 48.34% of the vote and 156 (of 250) seats in parliament, the party does not require a coalition partner, unless it wants a majority to the change the constitution.  There are dangers in this victory, both for the victor and for the Serbian democracy. First, Vučić and his party might have won a Pyrrhic...

Serbia’s new old master

With all eyes on the referendum in Crimea, few fellow political buffs outside the Balkans have taken note of the general elections held in Serbia last Sunday. For good or for ill, Belgrade is not the epicentre of European politics that it was two decades ago. By the standards of days gone by, the snap polls called at the behest of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the largest faction in the outgoing parliament, were a rather dull affair. They largely fulfilled the SNS objective: SNS secured a...

"Just Do It" ... ?

When it comes to the western Balkans and European integration, certain metaphors come in and out fashion. It used to be said that Balkan countries were like cyclists; they had to keep moving forward, otherwise if they stopped, they would fall off. This went out of fashion when it was realised that actually, if a country stopped, it did not just halt, it went backwards, and you cannot cycle backwards.

You can’t really sail backwards either, but never mind. After bikes, came yachts, as in the Regatta Principle. Now this is going out of fashion too. Maybe this is because, when...

A wake-up call for a new and more democratic Bosnia

Nobody expected the massive outburst of violence on Bosnian streets two weeks ago. However, given the disastrous economic and social situation in the country, huge unemployment (up to 70% of the Bosnian youth face unemployment) and exploding poverty rates, massive social protests were only a matter of time. Bosnia has been in a permanent crisis since the elections in 2006. The complex Dayton structure, based on the ethnic principle and division, has created a Frankenstein-country dominated by ethno-political elites. For almost two decades, ethno-political elites have invested their energy...

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...

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