Sunday, December 26, 2010

What Will 2011 Bring for the Western Balkans?


For the first time in Albania's history, its citizens will have the right to travel to most EU countries without a visa. Many Albanians will use this opportunity in 2011 and most will return back home.

Fears that some EU countries may face a new wave of immigrants from Albania are unfounded. Around 1.5 million Albanians (not including those from Kosova) have already left the country over the last 20 years, unperturbed by the existing visa regime. Those who try to stay illegally in the EU will be deported back home.

However, the country's EU accession bid is a desperate case. Albania lost the chance to obtain candidate status and became the only country to be given a negative opinion from the European Commission regarding its application. It will get a chance to repair this in the autumn but the political situation does not look any more promising for 2011 than it was in 2010. Augustin Palokaj


Bosnia and Herzegovina's main goals in 2011 are to meet all the conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and to quickly process its expected application for EU membership, which needs to be forwarded by the Council of Ministers to the European Commission for assessment.

To achieve these goals Bosnia will need to have a government in Sarajevo capable of running the country and implementing necessary reforms. Unfortunately, almost three months after the last general elections, there are no signs of such a government being formed in the near future. On the contrary: two ethnic blocks – Bosniak-Muslim parties on the one hand, Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat parties on the other – are solidifying. Zeljko Pantelic


Bulgaria's presidential elections will be the centrepiece of the country's 2011 political calendar. The governing party GERB remains high in approval ratings and its candidate stands the best chance of winning, although the party has steadily lost support due to broken election promises and a worsening economic situation.

Prime Minister Boiko Borisov says GERB's likely presidential candidate will be interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, his number two in the party and in government. Mr Tsvetanov's image has, however, been tainted by an unconvincing attempt to explain how he acquired six apartments in Sofia after entering politics in 2006.

Bulgaria is likely to have its admission to the border-free Schengen zone delayed due to French, German and Belgian objections.

The country's economic recovery is expected to accelerate next year mainly due to increasing exports, but this will not immediately translate into improving living standards as internal demand will be suppressed by austerity measures to narrow fiscal deficit to 2.5 percent.

Many economists are sceptical that the government will be able to attain this deficit goal. Even if it does manage to, it will cause economic pain and is likely to further undermine GERB's popularity and create a basis for the fragmented and weak opposition to boost its position.

The main opposition Socialist Party has been slowly but steadily gaining in the polls. There are signs of a possible consolidation among the small and cantankerous right-wing groups, which will be trying to profile themselves as a right-wing alternative to Mr Borisov. It is conceivable that, like his predecessors, Mr Borisov will have to replace some of his ministers to appease rising discontent. Vesselin Zhelev


Croatia is entering yet another year with high hopes of concluding its marathon EU accession talks. With former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader behind bars in Austria and wanted for extradition, and with a deputy prime minister and one former minister already convicted for corruption, Croatia is delivering what the EU wants: "A convincing track record of conviction for cases of corruption at the highest level."

Croatia and the EU will conclude negotiations and sign the accession treaty in 2011. To secure this, Zagreb may have to close some of its five shipyards and will have to continue fight corruption at all levels. The EU has stated clearly that it does not want more cases like Bulgaria and Romania. The new EU mantra is: "Only those who are 100 percent ready can join." Augustin Palokaj


Europe's youngest state is not advancing towards the EU and faces increasing difficulties at home. Kosova has became exactly what the EU does not want it to be; a black hole in the Western Balkan region.

Its citizens can hardly travel anywhere without a visa. Fraud and other irregularities in the first parliamentary elections, organised crime and widespread corruption are making outside assistance increasingly difficult. At the same time, the EU and its 2,000 officials in Kosova will come under growing pressure to show concrete results in 2011.

Kosova will start its EU-sponsored dialogue with Serbia but this will not change anything. A possible trade agreement with the EU will not have a substantial practical effect either. None of the five EU countries that currently refuse to recognise Kosova are expected to change their positions in 2011, and Kosova will not became a member of FIFA or UEFA.

Unless there are some positive surprises, 2011 does not look a bright prospect for Kosova. Augustin Palokaj


The biggest issue for the Macedonian political scene in 2011 is yet again the name dispute with Greece. Athens and Skopje have been negotiating the issue under UN auspices since 1995, but without any result.

The planned erection of a giant statue of Alexander the Great in the middle of Skopje's main square will make it even harder to find a compromise with Athens. There is unlikely to be a solution to the dispute next year, and Macedonia risks remaining an EU candidate without a date for accession talks.

The country will disappear from the EU agenda and, warn MEPs such as Zoran Thaler or Yorgo Chatzimarkakis, this could destabilise the country where the 25 percent Albanian minority insists on rapid EU and NATO integration.

Another sensitive moment in 2011 could be the April census, which will determine the actual size of the Albanian minority. This is a delicate issue as the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) of 2001 gives important cultural and political rights to minorities making up at least 20 percent of the population. Macedonia's whole political architecture and inter-ethnic stability are based on this agreement. Svetlana Jovanovska


The main goal of the new Montenegrin government next year, following the resignation of Milo Djukanovic (the 'father of the nation') as prime minister but not as leader of the governing political party, will be to obtain a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU.

The list of conditions Podgorica has to meet first is very long. Montenegro will be in a similar position to Croatia, but with two additional shortcomings: its civil society and media freedom are much less developed, and the country is much more of a one-man – Djukanovic – show. Much, therefore, depends of the strength of the emerging leadership and whether it will have the courage to investigate Mr Djukanovic and his clan. Zeljko Pantelic

The Albanian question will likely surface once again, in ways to tackle the growing stagnation among Albanians living in Malesia, Ulqin, and Plava & Gusija.  The exclusion of Albanians from Montenegro's political and social mainstream will certainly create uneasiness in 2011, as evidenced by the increased political activities in the U.S. diaspora during 2010.  If Montenegro wishes to close the minority rights' 'chapters' en route to EU accession, it must seriously make inroads with its Albanian population.


Romania still hopes to be accepted into the EU's border-free Schengen area next year, although it remains unlikely until at least the spring. This date was unrealistic from the start, and became more so after some EU heavyweights began to question the wisdom of entrusting Romania (and neighbouring Bulgaria) with guarding and policing the EU's eastern external borders.

After the December EU summit, France and Germany sent a letter to the commission to that effect. France also bears a grudge towards Romania following the 'Roma affair'. Romania will certainly not join the Schengen zone early. Dan Alexe)


In the best case scenario, Serbia could become an official candidate for EU membership at the end of 2011. The country's Serbian leadership is also hoping to obtain a date for starting accession negotiations with the EU and to become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Candidate status is within reach if Serbia arrests the former Bosnian-Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, who is wanted for war crimes and genocide by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. However, a starting date for the talks is unrealistic.

Deteriorating living standards in 2011 and an eventual failure to get EU candidate status could provoke new tensions in relations with Kosova before general elections, which are foreseen for spring 2012. Zeljko Pantelic.


Anonymous said...

I think the contrary re Montenegro.

With Milo out, there will be a power struggle at the helm, with Luksic being ousted before his mandate.

The DPS will grow weaker in power, thus allowing the Serb opposition to organize and pose a strong challenge in the following elections.

The DPS will claim victory, but it will be ushered in with fraud!

Chaos will break in Montenegro and violence will break out.

Anonymous said...

Po per ne ne Malesi, a ka ndo nje shprese, plan, cka me be?

Anonymous said...

Malesia 2011: Build a cohesive and protective civic mechanism for Malesia!

The danger in Malesia is that the majority (DPS) simply used its power to win elections, and then, of course, takes away and cowardly suppresses the rights of the Albanian minority in Montenegro. This is why effective political mechanisms for protecting ethnic Albanian rights are essential to the success of any democratic dispute resolution process for Malesia. Malesort have to create empowerment strategies that are designed to help dismantle the disruptive forces that come from Podgorica, and then strengthen their base of forcing power so that they can participate fairly and effectively in dispute resolution processes.

Albanians in Maleisa and Diaspora need to refer to non-violent and democratic resistance strategies, such as those pioneered by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King that are designed to avoid any trap by absolutely refusing to be drawn into a violent confrontation. Far from being weak, this is a strategy that requires tremendous courage, self-control, professionalism, knowledge and understanding as well as a willingness to endure pain and sometimes even be faced with unpredicted dangerous consequences that might come from Podgorica.

The key to this success of non-violent approaches is the willingness of the Albanians in Malesia to base their resistance upon broadly supported moral and national principles and a communication strategy with the Diaspora and international Community, which Malesia and the Diaspora based in the USA, must publicize for all the world to see the Montenegrin Government’s immoral practices and political imbalanced behavior toward Albanian community.

Malesia in 2011, must understand and develop a collective security as a coalition building strategy in which malsort must agree not to attack each other and to defend each other against an attack from Podgorica. The principal is that "an attack against one, is an attack against all."

Contest against Economic exclusion, a manifestation and a consequence of discrimination against Albanian minorities. Malsort have historically been excluded from full and effective participation in economic life in Montengro. Malsort need to learn to get active in political governmental structure as well as maintain their focus on ways to increase the effective participation in economic existence. Malesort are often discriminated against when they seek employment, on the basis of their ethnicity, language, names or even addresses. This must stop!
Albanians are often poorly represented in public and private sector employment, despite legislation that bans discrimination in both areas. This needs to be addressed and brought to the surface, so the EC representative can see the truth of Montenegrin behavior toward Albanian, and how Montenegrin Governmental infrastructure investment lags behind in minority areas, preventing access to markets and reducing chances of employment for Malsor.

In conclusion, Malesia will flourish in 2011, only if all voices are heard, when all opinions are considered; when all citizens participate; and when the talent that exists in the Albanian communities in Malesia and abroad are able to contribute to the advancements of our political rights. Montenegro needs to understand that inclusion is good for society at large, not just for those previously left out. So, creating the conditions for the effective participation of Albanians should be considered by Montenegro as an integral aspect of good governance and a key priority in their efforts to ensure equality and non-discrimination for its minority.
Malesia 2011: Buckle up!

Anonymous said...

Fine assessment. But who is listening in Montenegro?

Anonymous said...

We must be conscious enough to realize that there is a desperate attempt by the Montenegrin government to separate the ideologies of Albanians living in MZ (A.i.M.) from those living in the Diaspora.

What do we mean by this?

Podgorica’s grip on A.i.M. is evident now more than ever before. Podgorica controls the information that gets to the Albanian communities, and also what gets out. The DPS has brainwashed many Albanian sympathizers into thinking that their socio-political lives are ideal and better-off than any other place in the Balkans (i.e., Macedonia, Presheva, Kosova, etc). Any arguing contrary to this belief is rubbish (acc to Podgorica). Now … this holds true as long as the Diaspora remains at bay, or by discounting Diaspora’s pleas for greater rights, increased employment, equal opportunity, and so on. Hence, there is a cleavage created between A.i.M. and the Diaspora.

By confusing the situation, Podgorica claims that A.i.M. are on the right path and (dear God) they also argue that A.i.M. are content with their socio-political conditions (and they probably are, why else are there no petitions, demonstrations, etc to the contrary?).

Regarding the Diaspora? They are “EXTREME” in their rhetoric/activities, and do nothing but stir the pot. Podgorica’s message to Diaspora: “Stay away and leave the peaceful and law-abiding AiM alone!” What the Diaspora seeks does not run parallel with what A.i.M. want.

So, what needs to be done to overcome this institutionalized threat?: The A.i.M. and the Diaspora MUST establish an agreed-upon platform (filled with activities and projects) and collectively pushed forward.

This would extinguish the confusion that Podgorica has created. This would put an end to the DPS saying, “We are sorry, but your views do not correlate with those of your brothers and sisters here…”

~ Besnik

black eagle said...

Nuk e di se si eshte eshte gjendja ne Malin e Zi,(pervec pjeses se Ulqinit) dhe se si trajtohen shqipetaret atje.
Sepse vjet ne vere isha me pushime ne Ulqin,dhe gjate nje biseda qe pata me nje te njohur me tha se qeveria i ka lene mbas dore, dhe se asnje investim nuk eshte bere ne vendet qe banohen nga shqipetaret.
A eshte e vertete kjo?