Feb 19 2015

Kosovo’s pyramidal highway and remarkable generosity

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Andrea Lorenzo CapusselaThe €838m Kosovo highway (which has in recent times attracted the Guardian’s and Foreign Policy’s attention) might well have been one of the most wasteful infrastructure projects in history. Andrea Lorenzo Capussela gives all the numbers: a staggering ‘€400m of the final €838m final construction cost is excess price’, equivalent to 10 per cent of Kosovo’s GDP. ‘Money paid for no reason’, he concludes, from a poor country to a rich foreign firm.

Beautiful sunset over highway that link Kosovo and Albania and river called Drini i Bardhe. Photo: Berat Hoxha/CC BY SA-3/Wikipedia Commons

Sunset over the highway that links Kosovo to Albania and river Drini i Bardhe. Photo: Berat Hoxha/CC BY SA-3/Wikipedia Commons

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Feb 11 2015

Fatmir Besimi: wire-tapping scandal is taking Macedonia ‘in the opposite direction’

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Fatmir_BesimiBetter integration among different communities and more equal spending of funds is key to Macedonia’s future, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Besimi says in an exclusive interview with LSEE’s Tena Prelec. He talks about the recent wire-tapping revelations, the controversial education reform, freedom of the media, the Skopje 2014 project and the naming dispute with Greece.

Fatmir Besimi

Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Fatmir Besimi during his visit at the LSE

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Feb 10 2015

Coup d’état or a Macedonian post-Snowden syndrome?

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Nenad MarkovikjMacedonian PM Gruevski has been accused of large-scale wire-tapping by opposition leader Zoran Zaev, triggering a scandal that has shaken the country. Nenad Markovikj goes through the events that led to the publication of the ‘bombshell’. Macedonian society is increasingly polarised: ‘In one parallel political universe Zaev is a traitor whose only goal is to precipitate the disintegration of the country; the opposing universe sees Zaev as the only hope for Macedonian democracy’. Markovikj also points at the influence of an external actor that has been largely overlooked so far: Russia.

Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski at the European People's Party Congress in Warsaw. He is now being accused of large-scale eavesdropping. Photo: EPP - Flickr

Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski at the European People’s Party Congress in Warsaw. He is now being accused of large-scale eavesdropping on his countrymen. Photo: EPP – Flickr

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Feb 7 2015

Ten rules by a 21st-century Machiavelli for the Balkan Prince

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florianWhat would Machiavelli say about the Balkans today?, wonders Florian Bieber. In this letter for a modern Balkan Prince, he outlines ten rules that would allow the Prince to keep the power whatever the conditions. ‘Ruling is like dancing on the edge of a volcano’, he warns, suggesting, however, there are still ways to stay safe.

 

Photo: ask.com

Photo: ask.com

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Feb 6 2015

The Brussels Agreement “generated by conversations, not by relentless pressure”

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The leaders of Kosovo and Serbia are due to meet in Brussels next week to resume the dialogue which produced an agreement on normalising relations in 2013. Sir Robert Cooper, one of the lead EU negotiators in the process, talks to LSEE’s Joanna Hanson about the logic behind the talks, his surprise at the 2013 agreement, and the prospects for reaching true normalisation between both parties. 

Robert Cooper

Sir Robert Cooper

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Jan 28 2015

Bieber: Attacks on media are part of “a regional pattern of authoritarian temptation”

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Marcus-TannerA new model of authoritarian government is taking hold in the Balkans – one which the EU is failing to recognise or address, Florian Bieber said at the LSE. There is a “curious inter-relationship between EU integration and these patterns [of government]”, characterised by strong party political control of the administration and a flexible attitude towards the law, Dr Bieber noted. Marcus Tanner reports.

 

Dr Florian Bieber, University of Graz (left) was visiting speaker at LSEE, January 27. The event was chaired by Dr James Ker-Lindsay, Senior Research Fellow in South East European Politics at LSEE Research on SEE (right)

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Jan 28 2015

Serbia holds a position few others in Europe can match – but is yet to find how to use it

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James-Ker-Lindsay‘Serbia certainly holds a position that few other states in Europe can match: it is a country that is seeking EU membership, and yet also has long standing close ties to Russia. However, it needs to be clear about how best it can leverage this to bring about meaningful results,’ LSEE’s James Ker-Lindsay argues in an interview with the Serbian weekly Svedok. In a conversation with journalist and LSE student Milan Dinic, he discusses the country’s relationship with Kosovo, Russia, and the European Union.

Johannes Hahn, former European Commissioner for Enlargement, in the 1st row, in the centre, leaving the residency of the Serbian Prime Minister

Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, in the 1st row, in the centre, leaving the residency of the Serbian Prime Minister

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Jan 13 2015

6 key observations after Croatia’s presidential election

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Dimitar BechevThe elections’ outcome will give HDZ a badly needed boost ahead of the more important parliamentary polls at the end of this year. Grabar-Kitarović could well use the presidency to score points on behalf of HDZ, especially with regard to the struggling economy, argues LSEE’s Dimitar Bechev discussing the results of the presidential race in Croatia.

Photo: Kolinda.hr

Photo: Kolinda.hr

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Jan 9 2015

Never was a presidential election in Croatia such a close-run challenge

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On 11 January, Croatia will hold a second round of voting to elect the country’s next President. Višeslav Raos provides a comprehensive preview of the vote, noting that the elections are expected to give a clear indication of how the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections might go later in the year.

 

On 11 January, Croatian voters will decide whether the country’s incumbent President, Social Democrat Ivo Josipović (57), a law professor and composer of classical music, will retain his post or have to pass the baton to Christian Democrat Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (46), former Minister of European Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO (the first woman to hold a senior post in the Alliance).

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Dec 22 2014

Guest blog by Hashim Thaci: Kosovo’s New Foreign Policy Roadmap

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The_Prime_Minister_of_KosovoKosovo’s former Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi has now taken up the role of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He writes exclusively for LSEE about how he envisions Kosovo’s future foreign policy, listing as its main goals: deeper regional and global engagement, stronger national security, the continuation of the dialogue with Serbia and the increase in economic growth driven by foreign investment.

Hashim Thaçi, on the right, and Catherine Ashton

Hashim Thaçi, on the right, and Catherine Ashton, photo: European Commission

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