A number of Balkan countries, and particularly the frontrunners in the EU accession process, Serbia and Montenegro, , have been experiencing a serious democratic decline in recent years. This is reflected in key international indices, such as those of Freedom House and the Economist Democracy Index. However, the governments’ and presidents’ formal commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration has obscured the democratic decline. Recently, protest movements in both countries have displayed broad dissatisfaction with the respective regimes. And while the protests are waning, their causes remain unaddressed. The democratic decline poses a particular challenge for the United States and the EU. The democratic and European consensus has been undermined by autocratic leaders who have co-opted the discourse of pro-European reform, while systematically undermining democratic institutions. The regimes’ use of pro-Western positions taints the idea of Euro-Atlantic integration in the eyes of many citizens. As a result, the pro-Western consensus that has shaped the region for the past decade is no longer secure.
Policy Brief: Leadership Adrift: American Policy in the Western Balkans
1 August, 2019