Symβiosis aims to provide resources, commentaries and analysis, on political, social and cultural ideas and developments affecting change and policy, original and creative, based on arguments, able to propose and debate solutions to critical issues, maintaining a broad intellectual scope and global reach that readers need to understand the choices shaping lives, and reflecting on Greece, the Balkans, Europe and the world.

 

Balkans

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Serbia – tying the EU in knots

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Date added: 05/28/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 147.52 kB
Downloads: 577
Judy Batt
The Spanish presidency of the EU opened 2010 on a rather high note for the Western Balkans and for Serbia in particular: the December European Council decided to unfreeze the implementation of the Interim Trade Agreement with Serbia and to lift the EU’s long-resented visa regime for citizens of Serbia (along with those of Macedonia and Montenegro). Encouraged by these  developments, the Serbian government swiftly submitted its formal application for EU membership, hoping to sustain the momentum and catch up with its neighbours in the Western Balkans. Public opinion polls duly recorded a surge of pro-EU sentiment and new optimism that EU membership could be within reach in just a few years’ time.

Democracy Monitoring Report: Albania

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Date added: 05/28/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 741.65 kB
Downloads: 653
This report provides a ground-level synopsis of democratic conditions in Albania. It draws on FRIDE’s series of country reports that provide independent analysis of different aspects of democracy development. The report is based on more than 40 ‘semi-structured’ interviews and a substantial number of consultations with international officials, journalists, civil activists, political analysts, members of the judicial system, party representatives, parliamentarians and government
officials, conducted in early 2010.2 It also uses various governance indexes and benchmarks as a point of reference in assessing the state of democracy in Albania.

Spanish Foreign Policy in the Balkans: Wasted Potential

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Date added: 05/28/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 166.97 kB
Downloads: 598
Sofía Sebastián

Spanish foreign policy in the Balkans dates back almost exclusively to the 1990s with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. The Bosnian War in 1992 also sparked off a new stage in Spanish cooperation, which until then had centred on North Africa, theMiddle East and Latin America. Spain’s participation in the Balkans has been guided by the interest in maintaining peace and stability in the region, within the general framework of the international community’s intervention. This has been carried out through three main channels: a general foreign policy framework defined according to international community directives (until 2008); the deployment of troops in the area; and cooperation assistance aimed at physically rebuilding and pacifying the region.

Local reform in Kosovo

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Date added: 06/07/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 548.18 kB
Downloads: 1206

György Hajnal - Gábor Péteri
February, 2010

Executive summary

 

The fundamental question this report seeks to answer is how Serbian local communities in Kosovo may be induced to be part of the Prishtina centered decentralization scheme. Cooperation of the Belgrade led (“parallel”) municipalities with the Kosovo state would ultimately contribute to the emergence of a well-functioning and peaceful Kosovo society.

Justification of this core question depends on accepting a number of presumptions, like that:

-          any sort of co-existence between Kosovo Serbs and Albanians have to encompass some extent of power sharing;

-          this power sharing should have some spatial dimension – that is, it has to involve a certain element of a system of autonomous local governments and

-          such as choice of Kosovo Serbian communities should be voluntary and well-informed.

A necessary, albeit not sufficient, condition of inducing Kosovo Serbs into Prishtina’s decentralization scheme is to make it better performing than the parallel one. The initial question, then, distills down to how the Kosovo system of local government can be improved so as to outperform the parallel system.

The quality of local governance depends on a great number of factors, many of which are more or less outside Kosovo policy makers’ “action radius”. Most of our attention, therefore, focused on the institutional framework of local governance as this factor is under the effective and immediate control of Prishtina. From such an institutional perspective two key features of decentralization are put under scrutiny. Namely,

  1. the mechanisms and arrangements ensuring the political accountability of elected municipal politicians to their electorate; and
  2. the freedom municipal policy makers enjoy in choosing whichever policy course they deem beneficial for their municipality.

In addition to the above some limitations of the scope of the approach had to be applied, too.. We dealt mostly with the K-Serbian enclaves South of the Ibar river. Kosovo’s North does not fit into the analytical framework of this study. Moreover, our approach was influenced by the potential users of our findings. The targeted audiences are the policy makers and other major players – such as NGOs – of Kosovo’s decentralization arena.

The report rests on field research conducted in a number of municipalities, both Kosovo Serbian and Kosovo Albanian ones, as well. A study on tracking the flow of funds from Serbia to Kosovo was commissioned within the framework of our project. The project started in December 2008; our interim findings were discussed at a workshop in Prishtina in October, 2009.

Making or breaking the European future of Kosovo

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Date added: 06/08/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 126.21 kB
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Policy Recommendations for the EU and Kosovo  authorities
Paper prepared by a group of Kosovar experts and representatives of Kosovo civil society

Vienna/Brussels, 31 May and 1 June 2010

During the next few days, the leaders of the European Union and the Western Balkan states will meet in Sarajevo to reiterate the ‘European perspective’ on the region. Given the slow and stagnant European integration of the Western Balkan countries and the alarming situation in Kosovo, we foresee a ‘make or break’ moment for the Lisbon-reformed EU to renew its commitment to the region.

The EU needs to have a clear and common stance, especially on Kosovo. Disunity inside the EU has been
hampering the work of EULEX, its largest Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission, responsible for ‘rule of law’ assistance and support to the Kosovo authorities. Coherence in the implementation of the EULEX mandate together with much stronger commitment from the Kosovo authorities is needed in order to overcome severe political and socioeconomic challenges as well as the remaining inter-ethnic tensions and divisions inside Kosovo society.