Text resize: A A
Change contrast

Tag: Western Balkans

By allowing Western Balkans democracy to falter for two decades, the EU has trapped itself

In 2003, the year before its “Big Bang” enlargement, the European Union made a declaration in Thessaloniki: “The future of the Balkans is within the European Union.” In the 20 years since, the EU has not made good on that promise of future membership, nor have leaders in the Western Balkans risen to the occasion.

The all-but-halted integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union has led experts and citizens alike to wonder why the transformative power of the EU, at its peak in 2004 when it admitted ten countries from Central Europe and beyond, has proven ineffectual in this region. The answer is a combination of EU and region-specific factors. The EU failed to put democracy at the centre of its policy towards the Western Balkans as it was able to for the “Big Bang” countries. Twenty years later, poor democratic governance is the main obstacle to the region’s future membership.

June 22, 2024 - Alexandra Karppi

Elections in North Macedonia: the importance of election observation in young democracies

On May 8th, landmark elections took place in North Macedonia. With many important issues on the line, including future EU membership, the validity of the elections was more important than ever. For this exact reason, observers from the Danish NGO “Silba - Initiative for Dialogue and Democracy” set out to observe these elections. In this account of the mission, a coordinator and two observers share their experiences and discuss the importance of election observation.

June 5, 2024 - Daniela Lange Andersen Jelle Baartmans John Bracken Stijn van der Veen

What role can Romania play in facilitating Western Balkan integration?

Recent geopolitical developments have resulted in renewed discussions on the enlargement of the European Union – including in the Western Balkans. Many factors will determine how these talks go in 2024 but some local actors may have significant input. Through its experience, Romania can be one of these actors and play a unique role in this process.

The new geopolitical context stemming from Russia’s ongoing brutal war on European soil has had profound effects on the geopolitical dynamics of the European Union’s enlargement. After many years of inertia and stagnation, enlargement seems to be back at the top of the EU agenda. The geopolitical decision made by the European Council in June 2022 to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status was followed by the (re-)opening of previously stagnating accession negotiations with the countries of the Western Balkans (Albania and various ex-Yugoslav states).

February 7, 2024 - Marius Ghincea Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă

A writer and war. Karahasan, the rebel

Dževad Karahazan’s rebellion was the result of his refusal to live imprisoned in a world of absolute truths, which are fed on the fear of others. He was not an idealist. He experienced real evil. He chose the life of a writer who diligently collected the remains of the wisdom of bridge builders.

When I learnt about the passing of the Bosnian writer, essayist and philosopher Dževad Karahasan, I could immediately feel the taste and smell of the Bosnian meat stew dagara. In our lives there are meetings that leave permanent marks on us. Regardless of when and where they take place, they come back to us as if they were real again.

February 7, 2024 - Krzysztof Czyżewski

Montenegro’s new government: another step closer to Belgrade 

At first glance, the formation of Montenegro’s new government appears to represent a victory for pro-western forces in the country. Despite this, the new coalition is ultimately propped up by groups with close links to both Serbia and Russia.

November 21, 2023 - Kenneth Morrison Srdja Pavlović

Twenty years later: exposing the hidden cause for the delayed EU integration of the Western Balkans

As the Western Balkans mark two decades since the 2003 Thessaloniki Summit, an atmosphere of reflection, rather than celebration, envelops the region. Amidst the initial hopes ignited by the summit's commitment to EU enlargement, the journey towards integration has been mired in complexities and frustrations. A deeper exploration into the underlying causes reveals a surprising factor at the heart of the delay – the state of public administration, an often-overlooked linchpin in the ambitious pursuit of EU integration.

In 2003, the historic Thessaloniki Summit marked a pivotal moment for Europe and its enduring commitment to enlargement and unity. At the heart of this gathering in the timeless Greek city was the visionary idea to bring the Western Balkans into the European family. The summit not only reaffirmed the EU's dedication to the enlargement process but also set into motion the integration pathways for countries emerging from a tumultuous past.

September 11, 2023 - Antonios Nestoras

Cake doughnuts and western diplomacy in the Balkans

As September 2023 was approaching, the focus of western diplomacy once again gravitated toward the ongoing Kosovo-Serbia conflict, which appears to have no end in sight. Amid mounting tensions and the uncertain trajectory of the EU’s “Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue,” a comprehensive reassessment of mediation efforts becomes imperative to bring a definitive resolution to this enduring conflict.

September 11, 2023 - Leon Hartwell

Kosovo-Serbia dialogue: a perpetual state of stagnation

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine stressed the importance of engaging the Western Balkans more closely. The strategy behind the West’s renewed interest was twofold: bring Kosovo and Serbia closer to a deal to normalise relations and simultaneously move Serbia away from the Russian orbit. Despite initial enthusiasm in early 2023, relations quickly soured once again. What will it take to overcome this impasse?

The Kosovo-Serbia dialogue which has been facilitated by the European Union since 2011 has faced challenges in normalising relations between the two countries. However, Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine injected a sense of urgency and provided a renewed impetus to address the dialogue. This led to a new diplomatic offensive that culminated in the finalisation of the second Brussels Agreement and its Implementation Annex in February and March 2023, respectively.

September 11, 2023 - Visar Xhambazi

Serbia continues to walk the tightrope

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has not significantly changed Belgrade’s foreign policy. Although Serbia is an EU candidate country, it has continued to exploit its ties with China and Russia to increase its bargaining position vis-à-vis the West and raise additional funds for development projects. Despite this ambivalent foreign policy, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić is still considered by many politicians in the EU and NATO as a very important partner in keeping stability in the region.

It seemed that a strong and unified western reaction to the Russian aggression against Ukraine would prevent Serbia from continuing its policy of balancing between East and West. Belgrade, aspiring (at least declaratively) to membership in the European Union, would subsequently be forced to decrease its cooperation with Russia. Yet Serbia’s leadership has been able to avoid introducing sanctions against Russia and keep its good relations with Moscow, while at the same time fostering an image among western politicians as a guarantor of stability in the region.

September 11, 2023 - Marta Szpala

Russia’s (fading) influence

Russia’s influence in the Western Balkans is traditionally based on its soft power, the energy sector and its diplomatic support for Serbia’s position on Kosovo. The religious, cultural and historic relationship of Moscow with the Orthodox population in the region has been taken as a reason for Russia’s attractiveness. However, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its consequences, the strength of Russian influence in the region is being questioned.

It is commonly said that the Russian aggression against Ukraine has further exposed the fault lines between Moscow and the West in the Western Balkans and that Russia’s aggressive posture in the region is only set to grow as a consequence of the war. Is this concern legitimate or is the Kremlin’s influence in the Western Balkans going to diminish as a consequence of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine?

September 11, 2023 - Katarina Tadić

Nationalism is still a potent force in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The continued power of nationalist ideas and narratives in Bosnia and Herzegovina has all but destroyed any social or political cohesion. Ethnic divisions have hindered the establishment of a unified political system and resulted in permanent political deadlock. Nationalist rhetoric continues to fuel political conflicts, further deepening resentments and prejudices.

More than three decades after the start of the Bosnian War, nationalists are once again threatening instability in the Western Balkans. Milorad Dodik, the pro-Russian Bosnian Serb strongman, recently stated that “We are considering in the most serious terms to bring a decision to declare independence and secede Republika Srpska, unless the property issue is solved.” Two decades of undermining state institutions, malign foreign influence and western appeasement have brought Bosnia and Herzegovina to its most serious crisis since the end of the war three decades ago.

September 11, 2023 - Hikmet Karčić

Jewish connections in the Balkans and Eastern Europe

The great influence that Balkan Jewry had on their co-religionists from Eastern Europe is one of the best examples of the close historical and cultural ties connecting both regions. It also shows how both of these groups were bound to the rest of the continent in a display of Europe’s multicultural heritage.

In June 2022, Ukraine and Moldova received EU candidate status and subsequently joined the ranks of the countries of the Western Balkans, which for 20 years have been the main area of EU enlargement policies. The Union justifies the accession of these states through reference to a common European historical and cultural legacy, of which both the Balkans and Eastern Europe are an integral part.

September 11, 2023 - Adam Balcer

Partners

Terms of Use | Cookie policy | Copyryight 2024 Kolegium Europy Wschodniej im. Jana Nowaka-Jeziorańskiego 31-153 Kraków
Agencja digital: hauerpower studio krakow.
We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. View more
Cookies settings
Accept
Decline
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active
Poniższa Polityka Prywatności – klauzule informacyjne dotyczące przetwarzania danych osobowych w związku z korzystaniem z serwisu internetowego https://neweasterneurope.eu/ lub usług dostępnych za jego pośrednictwem Polityka Prywatności zawiera informacje wymagane przez przepisy Rozporządzenia Parlamentu Europejskiego i Rady 2016/679 w sprawie ochrony osób fizycznych w związku z przetwarzaniem danych osobowych i w sprawie swobodnego przepływu takich danych oraz uchylenia dyrektywy 95/46/WE (RODO). Całość do przeczytania pod tym linkiem
Save settings
Cookies settings