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.




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Financial Times Kosovo report

Date added: 06/16/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 69.3 kB
Downloads: 989

Sovereignty chafes at outside supervision

By Neil MacDonald

Published: June 8 2010

When Hashim Thaci emerged as the leader of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian secession movement in the mid-1990s, he had three aspirations for his homeland: “First, liberation; second, independence; and third, to belong to Nato,” he says.

However, Kosovo’s 42 year old prime minister admits that his programme is incomplete.

Peja/Pec: Local efforts have been key to rebuilding

By Kester Eddy

Published: June 8 2010

The snow-topped Albanian Alps, known locally as the  “Cursed Mountains”, form a majestic backdrop to Peja, the principal city of western Kosovo (known as Pec in Serbian).

Governance: EU’s justice mission pursues corruption at the highest level

By Neil MacDonald

Published: June 8 2010

Even to its creator, the new road network around Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, looks like a mess for now.

Stretches of divided highway suddenly narrow to single lanes of loose gravel. Driving time between Pristina and Peja to the west, previously less than an hour and a half, can now take more than two hours, even without traffic jams. Some of the worst sections are at the main junctions for the capital city.

Youth culture: A vibrant night without fights or drunkenness

By Kester Eddy

Published: June 8 2010

Cars and pedestrians pick their way around the puddles and potholes in Pejton, a short walk from the centre of Pristina.

In this way, it is like any part of the Kosovo capital, although the trees look healthier and the buildings more upmarket, and it bizarrely bears the name of the 1960s American soap opera, Peyton Place, which was popular in the former Yugoslavia, although the younger generation has forgotten its origin.

Retail: Keen to keep the customers satisfied in three languages

By Neil MacDonald

Published: June 8 2010

On Friday afternoons, cashiers at the ABI Center supermarket in Prizren have their chance to greet customers with a friendly dobar dan. The Serbian for “good day”, along with the numbers from one to 10, are a basic job requirement at the store, says Alajdin Fusha, its general manager.


Beyond Wait-and-See: The way forward for EU Balkan Policy

Date added: 06/08/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 382.67 kB
Downloads: 568
Heather Grabbe, Gerald Knaus and Daniel Korski

In the midst of a huge economic crisis, European Union leaders may be tempted to put off any further decisions on enlargement. However, now that some of the Western Balkan countries have tested the EU’s commitment by formally applying for membership, the wait-and-see approach is unsustainable. The EU has kept six of the countries of the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – waiting for a decade. The EU has asked them to take on difficult and ambitious reforms to prepare them for membership. However, Balkan leaders are no longer even sure that the EU members really want them in the club.
As a result, the EU’s credibility is fading in the region. If it continues to hesitate about the next step, its leverage could fade too. The EU should respond to these  membership applications in a positive way while reinforcing its accession conditionality. The most realistic way to do this is to employ the EU’s existing tools more fully and more effectively, and to better sequence the next steps towards accession. This would support reformers in the region without imposing any additional costs on the EU. The aim is to set out a clear, realistic and motivational programme to help the Balkan countries to get in shape for membership – which could take many years to achieve. This will strengthen governance and provide political momentum to help the region get through the current economic crisis and its
political fallout.

Making or breaking the European future of Kosovo

Date added: 06/08/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 126.21 kB
Downloads: 637

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.

Local reform in Kosovo

Date added: 06/07/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 548.18 kB
Downloads: 1247

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.

Spanish Foreign Policy in the Balkans: Wasted Potential

Date added: 05/28/2010
Date modified: 07/06/2010
Filesize: 166.97 kB
Downloads: 620
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.