Democratization Policy Council

"An initiative for accountable democratization policy worldwide"



Workshop on 'The Great Powers in the Post-Yugoslav Sphere' project - Regensburg

16 December 2017

16-17 December 2017

DPC Senior Associate Kurt Bassuener participated in a workshop hosted by the Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS) at the University of Regensburg as part of “The Great Powers in the Post-Yugoslav Sphere” book project jointly implemented by Soeren Keil of Christ Church University in Canterbury and Bernhard Stahl at the University of Passau, with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Drs Keil and Stahl intend to publish the completed work, now in gestation, as an edited volume. Kurt presented his draft chapter entitled “The Reluctant, Intermittent Interventionist” which concerns the role of the United States in the former Yugoslavia from 1991-to date. His central argument is that the traction gained by Russia, Turkey, China and other bilateral actors in the region is a direct result of a failed joint Western strategy and policy coherence. The US, having ceded the overall direction of policy in the region to the EU, has had to periodically intervene in crisis response. Fellow presenters were Dr. Stahl (an overview), Dr. Keil (on the EU), Zeynep Arkan of Haciteppe University (on Turkey), Margarita Assenova of the Jamestown Foundation (on Russia), Jelena Džankić of the European University Institute (on Montenegro), Mladen Mladenov (on Serbia), Gëzim Krasniqi (on Kosovo), Senada Šelo-Šabić of the University of Zagreb and IRMO (on Croatia), Ana Bojinović Fenko (on Slovenia), and Adnan Huskić (on Bosnia and Herzegovina).

(from left to right: Margarita Assenova, Kurt Bassuener, Senada Šelo-Šabić, Adnan Huskić)

Joint Berlin event with Hertie International Relations Club

6 December 2017

On December 6, 2017, DPC kicked off a new cooperation with the esteemed Berlin-based Hertie School of Governance students’ Hertie International Relations Club (IRC) with a joint event entitled “Integration before enlargement? – the EU, the Western Balkans and the illiberal member states.” The event was the first in a series on the topic “The EU’s troubling democratic legitimacy abroad and within: enlargement, illiberal member states and future EU reform.”

A lively panel discussion, moderated by IRC member Naz Ali, ensued among the eminent speakers – Hertie school professor and chair of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger, executive director of the Skopje-based Macedonian think tank Eurothink-Center for European Strategies Ljupcho Petkovski, as well as DPC Senior Associate Bodo Weber.

During the discussion, aimed at shedding light on the impact of growing illiberalism within the European Union (EU) on its enlargement policy in the Western Balkans, Ljupcho Petkovski offered a definition of illiberal regimes from the perspective of Macedonia’s recent experience with the Gruevski regime. Bodo Weber set forth his view of why and how the growing illiberalism within the Union undermines the case for further enlargement from within, as well as the democratic reform conditionality toward (potential) candidate countries in the Western Balkan region from without. Professor Ischinger stressed that enlargement is probably the EU’s biggest success story. He expressed hope that illiberal regimes in Hungary and Poland would not last forever. He criticized the Union for neglecting the Western Balkans for so long and stressed the need for the EU to uphold strict conditionality on democracy and the rule of law. Ljupcho Petkovski admitted that the Union’s transformative power has suffered in the past due to Brussel’s inconsistent policy toward the Gruevski regime. Nevertheless, he stressed, EU membership remains the aim of a majority of Macedonian citizens.

(from left to right: Wolfgang Ischinger, Bodo Weber, Ljupcho Petkovski, Naz Ali)

'A Coming Storm? - Shaping a Balkan Future in an Era of Uncertainty' - Atlantic Council Conference, Washington, DC

29 November 2017

Kurt Bassuener, DPC Senior Associate, was a vocal participant in the day-long Atlantic Council conference titled “A Coming Storm? – Shaping a Balkan Future in an Era of Uncertainty,” held in Washington, DC on 29 November. The five panels included officials from the region among which were Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, and Kosovo Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli. Among the other panelists were US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Yee, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Western Balkans Director Fiona McIlwham, and Canadian-Bosnian regional expert Jasmin Mujanović. A lively discussion and debate ensued at the conference, the best-attended on the region in the US capital for some time, and it received considerable media coverage. Kurt addressed questions to each of the panels. The full event can be viewed here.

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