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Regimes in Western Balkans say want firmer relations with West, but act contra, panel concludes (VoA, FoNet, N1)

By   /  03/05/2019  /  Comments Off on Regimes in Western Balkans say want firmer relations with West, but act contra, panel concludes (VoA, FoNet, N1)

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The Washington John Hopkins University’s panel “Western Balkans (WB): Managing the Challenges” dealt with the regional leaders’ real readiness to get closer to the West, adding it should more clearly criticise the WB’s regimes, the Voice of America (VOA) reported on Thursday, as carried by the FoNet news agency.

Florian Bieber, a professor of inter-ethnic relations, conflicts and nationalism at the Gratz University, told the panel the North Macedonia – Greece deal showed not only Skopje’s pro-western orientation but also that local politicians should make changes, warning that was not the case in other countries whose regimes had the western support.

“The main issue is undemocratic governments which are not sincere in saying they want to take their countries into the EU and NATO. They are not in favour of joining the West in the sense of the rule of law and good neighbourly relations. That is obvious in the case of Kosovo and Serbia whose leaders speak about how much they hate each other and point that out as a good thing,” Bieber said.

Daniel Server, a professor at John Hopkins University, believes the alternatives to the current regimes ought to be considered as well.

“The US and EU would support any sustainable alternative authorities, but the problem in Serbia is that the opposition is composed of different groups some of which are debatable. In Montenegro, the opposition is against NATO membership, while in Kosovo it prefers the unification with Albania instead of independence,” Server said.

Srdjan Cvijic from the Open Society European Policy Institute disagreed, saying it was wrong to look at Serbia’s opposition as an undemocratic group since the regime had that characteristic despite its European orientation.

“The unreadiness of the authorities to engage in a dialogue with citizens and opposition has caused the gradual destruction of all institutions, an absolute lack of media freedom and, the last but not the least, the polarisation of the entire society,” Cvijic told the panel.

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