May 21 2015

In need of a final solution: property rights in Albania

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While Albania continues its saga of economic and legal reforms and prepares to join the European Union, issues around property rights remain one of the major barriers that impede the integrated economic development of the country. Despite periodic mentions in the EC Progress Reports, the situation seems to be far from resolved. A different monitoring approach, based on a wider inclusion of stakeholders and civil society, could raise the effectiveness of institutional initiatives, argues Arlind Rama

Construction in Tirana. Photo: Gazeta Dita, Albania

Construction in Tirana. Photo: Gazeta Dita, Albania

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May 15 2015

Why is Klaus Iohannis outsourcing Romania’s foreign policy?

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Klaus Iohanitoiunnis’ election was seen by many to signal a shift from the ‘old’ corrupt ways of doing politics in Romania and a historical moment that would mark the start of deep processes of transformation in Romanian politics and society. He offered the promise of making politics more efficient and less driven by short term, narrow interests of corrupt politicians. What is left of these hopes after his first six months in office?, asks Dr Cristian Nitoiu.

 

The people of Romania has chosen Iohannis as their new President. Photo: iohannispresedinte.ro

The people of Romania has chosen Iohannis as their new President. Photo: iohannispresedinte.ro

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May 11 2015

Breaking Macedonia’s vicious circle

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Dimitar BechevDimitar Bechev reflects on the recent outburst of protests in Macedonia, tracing the way popular anger has been building up in recent years. “The dramatic escalation should not surprise anyone. Macedonia has long resembled a pressure cooker”, he writes. But will Macedonian civil society use its new-found strength to hold authorities to account and to spearhead the bitterly needed start of EU accession talks?

Skopje, a woman uses a police shield as a mirror in the midst of violent protests. This photo was widely shared on social media - see: http://i100.independent.co.uk/

Skopje, a woman uses a police shield as a mirror in the midst of violent protests. This photo was widely shared on social media – see: http://i100.independent.co.uk/

Like its Balkan neighbours, Macedonia is no stranger to street unrest.

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Apr 14 2015

Corruption and anti-corruption in Romania. Finally turning the corner?

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Dan BrettA recent anti-corruption spree, led by public prosecutor Laura Kövesi, has taken Romanian political elite by ‘earthquake’. Daniel Brett discusses the multifaceted roots of the country’s corrupt practices: “If there is a historical legacy, it comes from the Communist period”, he argues, “and the absence of a political rupture in 1989 meant that its networks remained unbroken”. Nevertheless, today’s indicted politicians were just teenagers when Communism ended. Is history really to blame?

Anti-Ponta and Sova protestors. ‘We’re not hesitating we want justice’. A play on Şovăi hesitate and Sova

Anti-Ponta and Sova protestors. ‘We’re not hesitating we want justice’. A play on Şovăi hesitate and Sova. Photo:


In a country where actions of an ignominious nature are even encouraged, and those of rapacity looked upon as mere proofs of dexterity and cunning, corruption of principles cannot fail to become universal.

William Wilkinson, An Account of the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, London 1820

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Mar 26 2015

South East Europe has the ingredients to become the energy generation and storage powerhouse of Europe

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Julian PopovSouth East European countries are now faced with the prospect of rethinking their energy strategy. Options ahead are many but cooperation is essential, argues Julian Popov. “All ingredients for turning the South East Europe into a clean energy generation and storage powerhouse of Europe are there. Political will in and outside the region is the catalyst that is needed”, he writes.

Image: Wikimedia commons [CC BY 2.0]

The SEE region is rich in a wide variety of renewables. Image: Wikimedia commons [CC BY 2.0]

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Mar 24 2015

Russia’s economic troubles threaten support for breakaway republic of Transnistria

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Matthew Walker1Russia’s financial support for Transnistria, designed to to buy Moscow political leverage to shape the breakaway state’s foreign policy direction, is at risk of drying up. In spite of a pervasive pro-Russia narrative among locals, the government in Tiraspol is now looking west to foster its economy. Matthew Walker gives a personal perspective. 

Administrative building with statue of Lenin out the front. Photograph: Matthew Walker

Administrative building with statue of Lenin out the front. Photograph: Matthew Walker

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Mar 21 2015

Russian foreign policy: what are we missing?

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voneggertpetrovprelecRussia’s actions in Ukraine should better be ascribed to a quest for domestic legitimacy than an over-arching plan of antagonising the West. But if cornered, Putin could represent a threat to the Baltics, the Balkans and further. LSEE’s Tena Prelec speaks to Konstantin Von Eggert and Nikolay Petrov

 

Russia Putin

Photo: Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Mar 19 2015

Russia in the Balkans: Perceptions and Realities

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Dimitar BechevThe pragmatic interests of the Balkan states – which lie in the direction of Europe – are imposing limits on the Kremlin’s drive to regain influence in the region. Dimitar Bechev summarises the Russia in the Balkans conference organised by LSEE Research on South Eastern Europe and SEESOX (South East Europe Studies at Oxford) on Friday, 13 March. 

Conference speakers

Conference speakers. From left to right: Jelena Milic (CEAS), Roy Allison (SEESOX), Laza Kekic (EIU), James Ker-Lindsay (LSEE), Othon Anastasakis (SEESOX), Dimitar Bechev (LSEE), Dusan Spasojevic (Serbian diplomat), Andrei Tarnea (Aspen Institute), Andrew Rasbash (European Commission), Konstantin Von Eggert (Kommersant). For the full list of speakers see: goog.gl/40eAPP

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Mar 19 2015

Croatia’s economy under Milanović: recession and policy response

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Will BartlettMilanović’s government in Croatia has entered its final year. Its decision to continue with the previous government’s policy of fiscal consolidation has overshadowed the initial aim to boost investment – to dismal consequences, argues LSEE’s Will Bartlett. The only hope is that “growth resumes in the EU, and that this will lift the Croatian economy along with it”. 

 

The government led by Zoran Milanović has been in power for over three years. During this time, the economy has been subject to a continuing recession, having experienced negative GDP growth over the entire period.

Real GDP growth, Croatia and EU-28, 2006-14 (% p.a.). Source: Eurostat online data

Real GDP growth, Croatia and EU-28, 2006-14 (% p.a.). Source: Eurostat online data

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Mar 17 2015

 Serbia – Croatia relations: No way forward in sight

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Milan DinicA rapprochement between Serbia and Croatia might well represent a stimulus for growth and normalisation across the Balkans, in a similar fashion to the French-German leadership in driving European integration back in the 1950s. How far are we from a comprehensive settlement? Milan Dinic sets out to discuss.

The first same-sex partnership in Croatia was between a Croat and a Serb. This one-off occurrence is unfortunately not reflected in terms of societal tolerance in either country. From http://www.radiosarajevo.ba/mobile/novost/182755

The first same-sex partnership in Croatia was between a Croat and a Serb. This one-off occurrence is unfortunately not widely reflected in terms of societal tolerance in either country. From www.radiosarajevo.ba

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