European Union and Western Balkans complex relationship: should we be disappointed by the Sofia Summit?

08. June 2018

by Hatidza Jahic

Copyright: European Union, 2018

The European Union (EU) has developed close relationship with the Western Balkans (WB). The EU is the biggest trading partner and financial assistance provider (in terms of pre – accession funds, loans, support to civil society organisations etc.) for most of the WB countries. In 2018 alone, €1.07 billion of pre-accession assistance funds is foreseen for the Western Balkans, on top of the €9 billion during the 2007-2017 period. However, security challenges and other competitors such as Turkey and Russia have emerged in the region. This, among other factors, creates the demand for  new approach, instruments and actions. And Balkan people continuously ask themselves: is this really going to happen?

We don’t need no education – Bosnia and Herzegovina’s higher education reform

by Hatidza Jahic and Adnan Rahimic

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The word ‘reform’ is the most commonly used word in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). One way or another the country has been in some kind of reform process for the past 22 years. Reform became like a family member: we live with reform every day; we eat fruits and vegetables that are produced according to ‘reform’ instructions. The constant use of this word by politicians, teachers, family members and media create the sense that if you want to succeed in life, you have to reform.

The Western Balkans Summit in Trieste – Are the Balkans stuck in the EU’s waiting room post-Brexit?

by Hatidza Jahic and Miruna Troncota

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It’s been almost 15 years since the 2003 Thessaloniki promise of EU membership for the Western Balkans, and the countries in the region are still in the EU’s ‘waiting room’. The European Commission’s ‘White Paper on the Future of Europe’, published on 1 March 2017 does not mention EU enlargement at all. In the context of the 2017 Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, the first one to be organised after the Brexit vote, Miruna Troncotă (Ro) and Hatidza Jahic (BiH) ask: Are the Balkans forever stuck in the EU's waiting room?

The fog that never fades – welcoming the EU friend who never came

Posted on 20. March 2017 by Adnan Rahimić

1-adnan-rahimicIt was a sunny and beautiful day in Sarajevo on 2 March 2017.  The city was full of blue and yellow flags, signs of celebration from the day before – Independence Day. Flags were left hanging from buildings a day longer, probably on purpose – to gently sway and greet very important guest our country was about to receive: Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. Her visit to Sarajevo was part of her Western Balkan's tour of countries that are EU member state candidates/candidates-to-be. The plan was to meet with the members of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), to talk about the country’s current issues and problematic path toward EU candidacy and also, to give a lecture on the same subject to the academic community of the University of Sarajevo.

The iron fists in Poland and Macedonia: too similar but too bad!

8. March 2016 by Ivan Stefanovski

ivan-stefanovski2In the aftermath of the elections, which took place in October 2015, Polish voters swung even further to the right on the ideological scale. Although many had expected that Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice Party would opt for strong conservative values, few had predicted the speed with which the new establishment would tighten its grip on society, infringing on rights and freedoms and undermining European values.

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