A key aim of the EU’s eastern enlargement was to improve standards of governance and the rule of law in Central and Eastern Europe. Yet as Dimitar Bechev explains, the last 15 years have produced a mixed record. He argues that while the EU cannot offer any silver bullets, it is still a badly-needed ally in strengthening the rule of […]
Elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 7 October. Dimitar Bechev explains that Bosnian politics continues to be dominated by two ethnically defined poles, each with external support. The country will probably hold together as a state, but it will be highly dysfunctional and resistant to EU and US initiatives to promote pro-western reforms.
Nothing much changes in Bosnia. A […]
In a non-binding vote on 6 July, the European Parliament called for the suspension of EU accession talks with Turkey if it fully implements proposed constitutional changes that would increase President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers. Dimitar Bechev states that the reality is Turkey’s membership talks have already failed, but the EU’s best strategy is nevertheless to preserve the status […]
There is no silver lining to be sought in the aftermath of the Turkish constitutional referendum, suggests Dimitar Bechev. Erdoğan thrives on polarisation: the pattern of labelling those who do not support him as ‘traitors’ will continue for the foreseeable future. The relative success of the ‘No’ vote in the big urban centres must have hurt Erdoğan, but the near 50 per cent […]
Serbia held a presidential election on 2 April, with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić projected to have won the contest in the first round. We asked some of our contributors for their response to the election, what the result means for Vučić, and where it leaves the country moving forward.
Dimitar Bechev: “Vučić’s election paves the way to the consolidation […]
Bulgaria held parliamentary elections on 26 March, with preliminary results indicating that GERB, led by Boyko Borisov, had emerged as the largest party. Dimitar Bechev analyses the results, writing that despite the Bulgarian Socialist Party building on their success in last year’s presidential election to run GERB close, the results showed the resilience of the status quo in the […]
Some commentators have hinted at the imminence of another war in the Balkans, highlighting Russia’s supposed role in such an escalation. Dimitar Bechev argues that no such conflict is on the cards: Moscow is exploiting a vacuum left by the West’s retreating pull factor in the region, while autocrats in the Balkans are playing along. He writes that the EU should […]
Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot dead on 19 December at an art gallery in Ankara. Dimitar Bechev states that although the incident was shocking, it is unlikely to disrupt the recent thawing of relations between the two countries. But the incident nevertheless shows Turkey in the worst possible light and will provide an opportunity for Russia […]
A very Bulgarian drama: What Rumen Radev’s presidential election victory means for Bulgarian politics
Rumen Radev, the candidate backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, won Bulgaria’s presidential election on 13 November. Dimitar Bechev assesses what the result means for the country, stating that while Radev has been described as a pro-Russian candidate, the more important implications will be for Boyko Borisov and the Bulgarian government. Borisov has tendered the resignation of his cabinet […]
What does the attempted coup in Turkey mean for the country’s politics moving forward? Dimitar Bechev writes that on the one hand the failure of the coup illustrates the extent to which Turkey has become ‘civilianised’, with citizens less willing to accept the military interfering in politics. However, the net effect of the coup will be to greatly strengthen […]
Bulgaria held parliamentary elections on 5 October following the resignation of the country’s government in July. We asked six experts in Bulgarian politics for their reactions to the result, which saw former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) emerge with the largest share of seats in parliament.
Dimitar Bechev: “Who’s the winner then? Arguably, the […]
The Ukraine crisis has made it increasingly difficult for Serbia and Montenegro to avoid ‘taking sides’ in the clash between Russia and the West
The EU and the United States have implemented a series of incremental sanctions against Russia over the on-going conflict in Ukraine. Dimitar Bechev writes on the effect of the crisis in Serbia and Montenegro, noting that the two countries’ strong economic ties with Russia sit at odds with their respective bids to join Western institutions.
Russia has often played the […]