Belarusian Journalists Still Face Huge Problems

Belarus came in a lowly 153rd place (of 180) in Reporters Without Borders 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Other media freedom watchdogs and international organisations have reached similar conclusions: Belarus is ranked amongst the ten least free countries by Freedom House, although – credit where it’s due – it did move up from 194th last year to 192nd this year. Continue reading Belarusian Journalists Still Face Huge Problems

Regional Relations in the Western Balkans: Moving Beyond Folklore

Bosnia and Herzegovina flag with Serbia flag, 3D rendering

A long-awaited visit by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to Sarajevo finally took place in September, the first visit to the Bosnian capital by a Serbian president. Open disagreements between Mr Vučić’s predecessor, Tomislav Nikolić, and the Bosniak representative of the Bosnian presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, had made any such visit impossible in the past. Indeed, personal conflicts between the two leaders had led to total alienation between the two countries at the state level, all the while deepening Serbia’s relationship with the Republika Srpska and its leadership. Continue reading Regional Relations in the Western Balkans: Moving Beyond Folklore

Poland Challenges the European Identity

Poland emerging europe

I am writing this from a hotel room in Warsaw, surrounded by memorials to Frederic Chopin, the great Polish composer and champion of self-determination for the Polish people. This is a particularly appropriate time to be here, since Poland is locked in a battle with the European Union over the question of Polish national self-determination — more than two centuries after Chopin was born. Continue reading Poland Challenges the European Identity

Political Tensions Rise As Croatia Allegedly Breaks the Dublin III Refugee Regulation

croatia migrants

In late July 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Croatia had broken the Dublin III Regulation during mass-arrivals of refugees and forced migrants in 2015/2016. The rule was supposedly broken by allowing the refugees to cross over Croatian territory. This lead to the refugees ‘irregularly’ travelling further to Slovenia and Austria without imposing legal mechanisms of interception and eventual examinations of the possible claims for international protection (asylum). Continue reading Political Tensions Rise As Croatia Allegedly Breaks the Dublin III Refugee Regulation

Defending EU Values in Poland and Hungary

Eu hungary poland

After years of heating up, the EU’s values crisis is close to boiling point. Defiance of core EU principles by the governments in Warsaw and Budapest is turning into a political crisis. The European Commission has taken legal action against both governments for violating specific EU laws and is threatening to go further on Poland. The European Parliament supports this course and is preparing further action against Hungary. But the Hungarian and Polish governments will feel the heat only if political leaders of the EU’s other member states get actively involved. Continue reading Defending EU Values in Poland and Hungary