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  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Macedonia is a relative success story in a region scarred by unresolved statehood and territory issues. International engagement has, since the 2001 conflict with an ethnic Albanian insurgency, brought progress in integrating Albanians into political life. This has been underpinned by the promise of European Union (EU) and NATO integration, goals that unite ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. But the main NATO/EU strategy for stabilising Macedonia and the region via enlargement was derailed in 2008 by the dispute with Greece over the country's name. Athens claims that, by calling itself “Macedonia”, it appropriates part of the Hellenic heritage and implies a claim against Greece's northern province. At summits it blocked Macedonian membership in NATO and EU accession talks until the issue is settled. Mystifying to outsiders, the dispute touches existential nerves, especially in Macedonia, and has serious regional implications. The parties need to rebuild trust; member states need to press both to compromise, especially Greece to respect its commitment not to block Skopje in international organisations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, NATO, Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Macedonia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Štrpce, one of Kosovo's largest Serb enclaves and one of the few with good Serb-Albanian relations and economic prospects, risks falling victim to the status dispute between Belgrade and Pristina. But it also has a chance to demonstrate to Serbs that they can protect their interests within Kosovo's constitutional order. Since May 2008, the municipality has been governed by competing authorities, both Serb-led: an official government appointed by the UN in the face of local opposition and a parallel regime elected in defiance of Kosovo law. Neither has the capacity to perform its duties. The impasse has deprived this peaceful enclave of effective government and devastated its economy, notably by preventing regulation of its lucrative property market and blocking privatisation of the Brezovica ski resort. Local elections on 15 November 2009 can end the un- easy status quo, give Štrpce a legitimate government and unlock its economic potential. Belgrade, Pristina and the international community should encourage voting and thereafter equip the municipal government with the expanded powers and resources it needs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Serbia, Balkans, Albania