The European Commission published its Country Report for Serbia in May 2019 assessing the country’s progress in the past year: it portrays a confusing picture of a country that is perceived as a frontrunner in the EU accession process, has been involved in accession negotiations since 2014, and which yet obviously lacks any drive to reform, ambition, capacities, and most importantly the results that could prove its advanced status.
What are the accomplishments of the European integration process in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia? Despite being at different stages, the process has still not been able to sufficiently affirm the constitutional commitment of the tripartite division of powers in these states and bring about an equal balance between them. Respect for this commitment is of fundamental importance for the operation of both the political and the overall social system.
It has already been 10 years since the Polish-Swedish Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative was launched in Prague in May 2009. Since then, the EU has strengthened its relations with all six EaP countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Three of them – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine – have signed Association Agreements (AA) with the EU, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA), and have been granted visa-free regimes. Armenia, which initially withdrew from signing the AA, has concluded a new, less ambitious bilateral treaty: a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. Azerbaijan has started negotiations on a new framework agreement with the EU. Finally, bilateral talks on EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities have been launched. The EU is now the biggest trade partner for five out of the six EaP countries, and is the second biggest trade partner for Belarus only after the Russian Federation.
Interview with Elbridge Colby, Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017 to 2018, during which time he served as the lead official in the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) and the DOD’s principal representative in the development of the 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS).
In mid-February thousands of opposition supporters clashed with police in an anti-government rally against Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s cabinet, demanding its resignation and early elections. Although Albania is set to start its accession negotiations with the European Union, Rama’s rule has backtracked in terms of democracy and the fight against corruption and organised crime.
“How does Slobodan Milošević’s will begin?” asks a Serbian joke from the 1990s. “In the unlikely event of my death…”
As the anti-regime protests in Serbia enter their third month, that sardonic quip captures much of the mood on the streets of Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and dozens of other towns across the country. For weeks, thousands have been airing their grievances against the increasingly autocratic government of Aleksandar Vučić and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), often by drawing direct parallels between the current president and the former strongman, under whose tenure the former served as Minister of Information.
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