An assault on democratic norms in the Balkans should be treated with the same urgency as such a crisis would precipitate within the core of the EU, says Dr Jasmin Mujanovic:
The crisis of democratic governance in the Balkans is obvious. But the overt turn towards authoritarianism in countries like Macedonia and Serbia is being accelerated by the still more significant crisis of democratic norms and constitutional government in the West. These two dynamics are intrinsically linked – as is any hope of resolving them.
Special attention should be paid to external actors, such as Russia, but Turkey also, the National Endowment for Democracy’s Ivana Cvetković Bajrović told a recent Freedom House forum on Transformation and Stability in the Western Balkans.
Democratic weakness in the region has “created a fertile ground for external forces. We should take Russia more seriously,” she said, suggesting that illiberal forces could be countered by “straightening democratic institutions and having a strategic approach to push back their influence.”
Dr Jasmin Mujanovic is a political scientist specializing in the politics of southeastern Europe and the politics of post-authoritarian and post-conflict democratization. His first book, “Hunger and Fury: The Crisis of Democracy in the Balkans” is now available for pre-order from Hurst Publishers.