Sep 2 2014

The EU should set explicit press freedom requirements for candidate countries

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“If the EU is to maintain its stellar performance on freedom of expression, it should insist that candidate countries specifically demonstrate adherence to basic standards regarding press freedom laws and practices”, argues Freedom House’s Jennifer DunhamSeven of the eight candidate or potential candidate states considered have press freedom ratings substantially below the EU average, with Turkey and Macedonia in particular experiencing sharp declines in recent years. 

The European Union has consistently been among the best-performing regions in Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report, which assesses the condition of media freedom around the world. However, the EU’s average score in the report has dropped over the past five years, a result of sharp declines in Hungary and Greece and more modest deterioration in the United Kingdom and Spain.

The EU’s score for the report covering 2013 was also pulled down by the inclusion of Croatia, the bloc’s newest member. Croatia’s score (40) was far below the EU average (23.29) on Freedom of the Press’s 100-point scale, with 0 representing the best possible conditions and 100 the worst. Similarly, as shown in the Chart below, seven of the eight EU candidate or potential candidate countries – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey – score significantly below the EU average (Iceland, with a score of 12, is the exception).

Chart: Press Freedom Score in aspiring EU member states (2009-13)

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Aug 8 2014

South Stream epitomises Russia’s divisive energy politics in Europe

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Wojciech JakóbikThe South Stream gas pipeline is counter-effective when it comes to diversification of gas sources and, on top of that, it is absurdly expensive. But the economics do not matter here: Russia will pursue the project purely out of political reasons, writes Wojciech Jakóbik.

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Jul 31 2014

Russia sanctions: Balkan countries react

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Dimitar Bechev 90widthMontenegro and Serbia’s strong economic ties with Russia are today sitting at odds with their respective bids to join Western institutions – as the war in Ukraine has left these countries with no other option than to take sides. How are they reacting to the proposed sanctions? How is the South Stream pipeline fitting in the picture?  Dimitar Bechev gives an overview. 

 

Cafe Putin - Novi Sad

“Buffet Putin” will open next week in Serbia’s second-largest city Novi Sad – see moscowtimes.com

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Jul 29 2014

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? A framework for understanding youth unemployment in Croatia

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Nikola Bukovic“Youth unemployment in Croatia did not simply explode during the Crisis: it was there all the time, it is structural in nature and was systematically ignored.” Nikola Buković of the Croatian Youth Network lays out a framework to understand and tackle this monumental problem via three dimensions – governance (policy-makers), labour market supply (education) and labour market demand (economy). 

Banksy's 'No Future' mural in Southampton

Banksy’s ‘No Future’ mural in Southampton

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Jul 21 2014

Lessons from Bosnia: what is the real impact of peacekeeping?

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stefanocostalliThe conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine have been accompanied by calls for intervention from foreign countries. One possibility for this form of intervention would be a peacekeeping mission of the kind conducted by the UN in Bosnia during the 1990s, but do such missions actually have the capacity to stabilise conflict-torn regions? Using data from the Bosnian war, Stefano Costalli writes on the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations and finds that there was no link between the deployment of UN peacekeepers and an actual reduction in violence.

UN peacekeepers at Sarajevo airport in 1993, during the siege of Sarajevo. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev (CC BY-SA 3.0)

UN peacekeepers at Sarajevo airport in 1993, during the siege of Sarajevo. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Jul 17 2014

The Turkish-German Balkan equation

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Dusan Spasojevic 100Over the past two and a half centuries, relations between Turkey and Germany have come a long way – from the Prussian-Turkish friendship agreement in 1761 to a sui generis rivalry at the beginning of the new millennium. The two countries are now using the Balkans as a soft power battleground, argues former Serbian ambassador to Turkey Dušan Spasojević. 

 

merkel-erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Angela Merkel – from www.balkaneu.com

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Jul 12 2014

Croatia: one year later

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croa A year after Croatia’s accession to the European Union on July 1, 2013, we asked an academic and a journalist to write their accounts of the much anticipated ‘return to Europe’. Nenad Zakošek and Ines Sabalić argue that while the government has proven to be inefficient, ordinary Croats have started to enjoy the benefits of membership.

Croatia joined the European Union on July 1, 2013.

Croatia joined the European Union on July 1, 2013.

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Jun 30 2014

Serbia, Sarajevo and the outbreak of the First World War

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dejan The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Habsburg throne, and, by accident, duchess Sophie, by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 triggered the First World War, the causes of which are deeply complex. Disagreements regarding the responsibility for and legacy of the war seem to have exacerbated in the centenary year, which provides an opportunity to revisit and contextualize the assassination. Words by Dejan Djokić.

Postcard for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. (Source: Europeanna 1914-1918)

Postcard for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. (Source: Europeanna 1914-1918)

 

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Jun 28 2014

The legacy of Young Bosnia: Our own America

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 Muharem BazduljFranz Ferdinand’s (somewhat casual) assassin, Gavrilo Princip, was loathed as the most wicked of murderers and hailed as a liberation hero. One hundred years on, the role of the group that orchestrated the plot, Young Bosnia, is still debated. The Bosnian writer Muharem Bazdulj sketches a portrait of the underground movement that triggered the start of the Great War – and the unification of the South Slavs.

 

The centenary of the Sarajevo Assassination, the event which triggered World War One, sparked a renewed interest for the “Young Bosnia” movement, the unofficial group gathering illegal associations of Bosnian students at the beginning of the past century. Members of the movement were Gavrilo Princip and his friends and fellow conspirators, as well as Ivo Andrić, later awarded with a Nobel Prize for literature.

Members of the Young Bosnia movement in 1912. Top right, Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić.

Members of the Young Bosnia movement in 1912. Top right, Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić.

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Jun 19 2014

Power politics on the outskirts of the EU: why Transnistria matters

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Kamil CałusIn September this year, Transnistria, the separatist region located in the Eastern part of Moldova, is set to celebrate the 24th anniversary of its de-facto independence. And yet there is little scope for celebrations – as only the contested states of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia recognise its independence. To understand why the Transnistrian dispute has not yet been solved, and why two decades of negotiations have never brought us any closer to the solution, we have to look at the interest of the three main actors involved: Russia, Moldova and the West. Kamil Całus explains.

 

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