‘Skopje, you will be joy’ – an account of the student protests in Macedonia

Recently, the government of Macedonia, led by the national-conservative party (VMRO-DPMNE), has announced new amendments to the Law on Higher Education. The new Law, according to the authorities, should improve the quality of education in Macedonia. The proposed amendments envisage students to take an ‘external examination’ twice before graduation. Should students fail the testing, they…

From student protests to movement – the (un)expected reinvention of politics in Macedonia

On December 10th 2014, tens of thousands of university and secondary students, citizens and supporters took to the streets in several towns/cities in Macedonia and clearly expressed their “No” to the governmental plan to introduce external or state-tests for university students of all degrees. Realistic estimates place over 10.000 protestors at the march in Skopje,…

Without a clear plan towards transitional justice, the current lustration initiatives in post-communist Albania could be too little, too late

On November 29th, Albania celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its liberation from the Nazi forces. The coalition government, made-up of the Albanian Socialist Party (PS) and the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI), took the lead in a series of commemorative events during the weeks and months preceding the…

What does it mean that Serbia refuses to align itself with European sanctions against Russia?

The Russian annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol in March 2014 has caused a stir down to the Balkans. By refusing to align itself with European sanctions against Moscow, Serbia keeps infuriating Brussels. Increasing pressure on the government won’t help, on the contrary. Serbia’s support for Russia is no surprise During its two-year honeymoon with Serbia,…

The fall of the Berlin Wall and post-Yugoslav transition

Post-communist transition, in post-Yugoslav states, contributed significantly to the uneven progress of changes that unfolded in the past quarter of a century across the Eastern parts of Europe. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the post-Yugoslav part of Europe’s former, communist universe firmly stands between the, more successful, transition-achievers of Central-East Europe…

Time for a different approach to enlargement: can accession in the Western Balkans be given a new impulse for change?

The Western Balkans accession process is getting some new energy and commitment these days, but not from the ‘usual suspects’ responsible for enlargement negotiations and reforms. A group of academics and analysts from the region and further afield in Europe, united in the platform entitled ‘Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group’ have produced a new policy paper, containing…

Will the new initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina succeed?

Recently, a conference of Southeastern European foreign ministers took place in Berlin, organized by the Aspen Institute at the British Embassy. Philip Hammond and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the British and German foreign ministers respectively, presented a new initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). They concluded that the country does not function and the situation is not…

Greater Serbia and Greater Albania do not exist: The myth of bad Serb-Albanian relations

The incidents during the recent football match between Serbia and Albania and the fall-out with attacks against bakeries owned by real (and presumed) Kosovo Albanians in Serbia and the postponement of the visit of Albanian Prime Minister to Belgrade have created a misleading hype about Serb-Albanian relations. Numerous media reports and a recent study by…