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  • Author: Miroslava Pěčková
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: The results of Slovak presidential and European elections in 2019 indicated a political change in Slovakia, distancing itself from a twelve year-long dominance of ruling party SMER, which got embroiled in many corruption scandals throughout its reign. Firstly, the presidential elections in March 2019 appointed Zuzana Čaputová to President, defeating SMER´s candidate Maroš Šefčovič. She took hold of the office as an explicit advocate for multilateralism, anticorruption and a more liberal direction for the country, stating that her “main focus is to bring about change in Slovakia, and for Slovakia to be a reliable and predictable partner of the European Union”, while having an “inspirational effect” to other European countries in this regard1. Secondly, two months later, the coalition PS-SPOLU (whose former vice-president is Čaputová) noticeably won the elections to the European Parliament, with its programme promising a “real European Slovakia” and an intention to actively participate in the EU´s development and unity2. The coalition´s success marked another election lost by SMER in a row and subsequently offered the possibility of further political upheaval in the upcoming elections. The composition of the new government coalition arising from the 2020 Slovak parliamentary elections confirmed the change of political leadership in the country, thus bringing a potential for change as it consists of the parties of previous opposition and defined itself against its predecessor. This paper will analyse the new government´s programme and policies specifically pertaining to rule of law and green transformation vis-à-vis their feasibility in the context of contemporary developments. The COVID-19 pandemic influenced the beginning of the rule of the new government and is going to affect the real shape of its original political plans and reforms due to significant impact on Slovak economy. Moreover, the paper will reflect if these developments are likely to be significant in the Visegrad 4 context.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, European Union, Rule of Law, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Czech Republic, Slovakia
  • Author: Žiga Faktor
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Žiga Faktor examines the backsliding of democracy in Slovenia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, Slovenia experienced a major political shift, as Janez Janša, leader of conservative SDS party, was appointed as a new Prime minister of Slovenia, filling the political vacuum created after a resignation of a former PM Marjan Šarec earlier this year. With Janša’s strong ties to Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, his endorsement of right-wing populist rhetoric and ferocious verbal attacks on journalists and established media, many fear that Slovenia’s democratic principles are at stake, while the situation can be further exacerbated by the current state of coronavirus emergency in which the new government can entrench its power.
  • Topic: Politics, Democracy, Populism, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Slovenia
  • Author: Danielle Piatkiewicz
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: In her latest EU monitor, Danielle Piatkiewicz explores the future of Central and Eastern European security after Brexit. January 31st will begin the long-awaited legal withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. As the UK disengages politically, Europe’s existing security structure will undergo reconstruction as EU Member States reevaluate their future without the UK as active members established security including CSDP, NATO, PESCO, among others. As the UK seeks bilateral partnerships post-Brexit, steadfast security consumers like Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) should gauge how Brexit will affect their security region. With external threats mounting in the East, the CEE region relies heavily on the existing security blanket that Europe and NATO have provided. As one of the strongest European militaries, an engaged or disengaged UK will certainly affect the security environment, but it will be up to how the EU and CEE countries react and adapt, that will impact the future security of their region once Brexit takes effect.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Czech Republic, Central Europe
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: The discussion on the future of EU enlargement was opened again this year. After yet another disappointment for Albania and North Macedonia at the European Council’s session in October, the discussion turned towards a revision of the enlargement methodology. The argument that the enlargement process needs to undergo a reform, put forward by France as a justification of its October veto for Albania and North Macedonia, is based on the fact that the current process is not delivering adequately. That is true especially for the current frontrunners, Montenegro and Serbia, setting a bad example for other candidate countries in the region and giving more reasons to oppose enlargement to some already sceptical EU Member States. Both countries’ progress on the accession path has recently slowed down significantly, with some suggesting that the current low number of chapters that are being opened and closed, and progress only on “technical” rather than substantial matters, is due to the serious problems both countries have in the area of rule of law and democratic standards.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Kosovo’s path towards visa liberalization started in 2012 when the European Commission submitted the Visa Liberalization Roadmap for Kosovo. This step was long awaited by the small country as all the other five Western Balkan states started the dialogue already in May and June 2008. At that time, it was still being decided inside EU member states whether they would recognize the newly declared state1 and it was clear that there is no consensus across the EU. As the united EU approach towards Kosovo proved to be a difficult and sensitive issue due to the concerns that opening visa dialogue would imply recognition, Kosovo was left out from the process. The length of the visa liberalization process differed among the Western Balkan countries. Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia progressed rather swiftly, and the dialogue was closed with the decision to lift the visa regime for these countries in late-2009. Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina had to wait one year longer as their readiness and fulfilment of conditions was evaluated as insufficient in 2009. Kosovo, lagging behind the rest of the region, opened the dialog with the EU in 2012, at the same time as Georgia. While Georgian citizens already reached a successful end of the process and are allowed to travel to the EU without visa since March 2017, it is still uncertain when Kosovo will achieve this objective.
  • Topic: Immigration, European Union, Borders, Visa
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Kosovo
  • Author: Gentiola Madhi, Jana Juzová, Tomás Strázay, Adam Balcer, Jelica Minić, Nikolett Garai
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Two decades after the last armed conflict in the Western Balkans, the reconciliation process in the region is still in its embryonic phase. Reconciliation is considered both a determinant for the democratization process of these countries and a precondition for them to join the EU at a later stage. Moreover, a satisfactory degree of reconciliation is also seen as an essential “step which would make European integration a long-term success“. Today, the political and social dynamics in the region are characterized by high youth unemployment, lack of trust in the governing elites and gloomy prospects of EU membership in the near future, which have affected citizens’ perceptions and level of confidence that the reconciliation process can overcome the present stalling stage. Moreover, the standstill with the enlargement process has allowed the local elites in power to raise the nationalistic rhetoric in their public speeches for short-term political gains, at the expense of the wider regional rapprochement process.
  • Topic: Democratization, Conflict, Reconciliation
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: The result of the Kosovo parliamentary elections this month brought rather unexpected result, casting the ruling parties to opposition and ending 12 years of PDK-led governance in Kosovo, representing thus the first real governmental change since Kosovo’s independence. The winner of the elections, the Vetevendosje (“Self-Determination”) party, has become a part of the government for the very first time, with a very narrow victory over another opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). So far, the new government seems to be good news for Kosovo, possibly leading to turning things around, especially with regard to the fight against corruption and crime, economic issues and services for citizens. ​ The new political elites inherited from their predecessors plenty of not only internal but also external challenges, most urgently the stalled dialogue with Serbia on normalization of relations between the two countries.​
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo
  • Author: Gentiola Madhi, Jelica Minić
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: The relations between Albania and Serbia have been marked over past decades by the absence of political dialogue and the presence of diplomatic friction. This weakness has been reflected in the relations between respective peoples. Despite being the two major ethnicities in the region, the mutual relations are still far from being considered mature and demand for the presence and intermediation of third parties in order to smooth down long-lasting prejudices, intolerance and distrust. In the aftermath of the Kosovo war, both countries resumed the bilateral relations as of January 2001 through an exchange of diplomatic notes. However, the mutual relations did not break through until November 2014, when Prime Minister Rama visited Belgrade - the first official visit of an Albanian leader in Serbia in 68 years. This symbolic and historical act created a fresh political momentum and imprinted a hopeful beginning of a new cycle of political and societal rapprochement.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Ethnic Conflict, War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Serbia, Balkans, Albania