CERCLE DIPLOMATIQUE - issue 01/2016

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LE MONDE WESTERN BALKANS

THE LEADERS OF

THE SIX COUNTRIES

OF THE WESTERN

BALKANS

PETER FÜRNWEGER

The Investigator –

The Bodyguard

Bosnia and

Herzegovina

Denis Zvizdić: Born in

June 1964 in Sarajevo,

the Bosniak was a

Professor of

Architecture at the

University of his

hometown before he

has been appointed to

Chairman of the Council

of Ministers of Bosnia

and Herzegovina in

March 2015. Between

2010 and 2014 he

served as a Member of

the Parliament, leaving

no particular public

impact. But last year in

a vote in the House of

Representatives of

Bosnia and Herzegovina

determining the new

Chairman of the Council

of Ministers of Bosnia

and Herzegovina,

Zvizdić won with a

surprising but clear

majority. Now he

promises to improve

actions towards EU

accession.

Serbia

Aleksandar Vučić: Only

46 years of age, the

Prime Minister of

Serbia, who gained

office in April 2014, has

a personal record which

is closely followed by

the EU. In 1993 Vučić

joined the ”Serbian

Radical Party“ (SRS),

climbing up the ladder

fast with many public

appearances. According

to Wikipedia, one of

them was his statement

made in the Serbian

National Assembly on

20 July 1995, in which

he stated: ”If you kill

one Serb, we will kill

100 Muslims.“ This

happened shortly after

the Srebrenica

massacre by Serb

forces. Nevertheless

Vučić has been central

to negotiations on

Serbia’s bid for EU

accession and urged the

Kosovo Serbs to “leave

the past and think

about the future”.

Kosovo

Isa Mustafa: The Prime

Minister of the Republic

of Kosovo, 64, and

former Mayor of

Prishtina from

December 2007 to

December 2013, claims

that his government

will be focused on the

economic development

of the country, which is

still one of the poorest

in Europe. In October

2015 Mustafa was able

to reach a Stabilisation

and Association

Agreement with the EU

which is the first key

step for non-EU

countries on the long

road towards

membership in the 28

nations bloc. While in

Kosovo the accord is

seen as a ”truly historic

moment“, Serbia, which

is still not recognising

its former province as

an independent state,

the importance of the

agreement has been

strongly played down.

Montenegro Albania Macedonia

Milo Đukanović: Age:

54, the former close

ally, later an opponent

of Slobodan Milošević

had already previously

served as Prime

Minister of Montenegro

from 1991 to 1998, then

as President of

Montenegro from 1998

to 2002, and as Prime

Minister again from

2003 to 2006 and from

2008 to 2010. He

gained the post for a

fourth time in 2012.

Under his leadership

Montenegro gained

independence from

Serbia in 2006.

Although a Marxist in

his youth, Đukanović

was reported to be „the

kind of politician who

has a picture of

Margaret Thatcher

above his desk“.

Despite facing heavy

protests from the

”Democratic Front“, he

seeks NATO membership

and backed the EU

sanctions against

Russia over the Ukraine

– two trump cards on

the way to the EU.

Edi Rama: The artist,

writer and former

member of Albania´s

national basketball

team was born 1964 in

Tirana and maybe is the

most colourful

politician of the

Western Balkans. He

was appointed Prime

Minister of Albania in

2013, having formerly

served as Minister of

Culture, Youth, and

Sports from 1998 to

2000 and as Mayor of

Tirana from 2000 to

2011. In December

2004, Rama was

named the World

Mayor 2004 and one

year later he was

chosen by Time

magazine to be one of

the 2005 European

Heroes, a tribute given

by the magazine to 37

people who are

changing the world for

the better.

Nikola Gruevski (until

18 January 2016): The

longtime Prime Minister

of Macedonia was

forced to step down

recently under a

Western-brokered deal,

the so called ”Pržino

Agreement“. Gruevski,

56, was replaced by

conservative politician

Emil Dimitriev, a

sociologist, who wil

serve as interim Prime

Minister. The Pržino

Agreement under the

mediation of the

European Union ended

the Macedonian

political and

institutional crisis in the

first half of 2015.

It foresees: the

participation of the

opposition party SDSM;

the resignation of

Gruevski, general

elections in April 2016,

as well as a special

prosecutor to lead the

investigations about

the eventual crimes

highlighted by the

wiretapping allegedly

involving the former

government.

PHOTOS: DRAGAN TATIC, DAVID PLAS, EDI RAMA 2014 - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, NIKOLA GRUEVSKI,

ALEKSANDAR VUCIC, BEIGESTELLT. GRAFIK: FRANZ DEIX

The „Tirana Talks“, a Western Balkans Summit held by the

Vienna Economic Forum, offers business contacts.

quest for such bilateral cooperation at the Vienna

Summit in August 2015. But the last Western Balkans

Conference was overshadowd by the escalating

refugee crisis with hundreds of thousands people

from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere trying to

cut their route through the Balkan transit countries

to Austria, Germany and Sweden. The conference

result in a nutshell: Western Balkans states promised

not to block each other on their way to the EU, more

to come at the Paris Conference 2016.

It seems to be the sad truth, that somehow a spanner

has been thrown in the works of this promising

process of the Western Balkans coming closer to Europe.

On the one hand economic growth in the Western

Balkans – which does 75 percent of its trade

with the EU, but only counts for 1.1 percent of the

overall EU trade – is less than zero. Its GDP crawls at

the level of 1989, income per capita is a mere 27 percent

of EU average and many of the young and educated

are leaving these countries. This is certainly not

the soil on which modern democracies blossom.

On the other hand, a growing part of the local population

is beginning to doubt the benefits of EU

membership such as state transformation, control of

power and human rights protection. ”The EU is not

perceived as a peaceful and thriving island anymore“,

says Katarina Tadić, a human rights activist based in

Belgrade. ”Thus, it is losing its attractiveness in the

Western Balkans. Being in a permanent crisis for years,

it seems that the situation with refugees in particular

unraveled the fragility of values promoted for

years as intrinsically European.“

In other words: If the EU fails to get its act together,

the gap to the Western Balkans could widen again.

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