Slovenia and the Czech Republic are among the most peaceful countries in the world, ranking 8th and 10th respectively in the latest edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
Elsewhere in emerging Europe Hungary (21st), Slovakia (23rd), Romania (25th), Bulgaria (26th), Croatia (28th), Poland (29th) also rank highly amongst the countries surveyed, while at the other end of the scale Azerbaijan (130th) and Ukraine (150th) perform poorly.
Overall, Europe remains the most peaceful region in the world and it recorded a very slight improvement in peacefulness after several years of deterioration. Twenty-two of the 36 European countries recorded improvements in 2018, with the largest improvements occurring for political terror, terrorism impact, refugees and IDPs, and homicide rate indicators. However, despite these improvements, the broader political environment in Europe remains uncertain, and resurgent nationalism and terrorism remain significant threats to peace.
Hungary, Slovenia and Moldova rank in the top five for demilitarisation, as the long-term trend of falling militarisation continues, with falls in both military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, and the size of armies around the world. However, these improvements were offset by deteriorations in perceptions of criminality and incarceration.
Twenty-four countries had a reduction in terrorism impact in 2019, chief among them Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, some countries recorded increases in terrorism, including Latvia, Poland and Serbia.
Although Ukraine stands at the bottom of the ranking, it recorded the largest improvement in the 2019 GPI, with the country’s overall score increasing by 6.25 per cent. Most notably, its ongoing conflict score improved for the first time since 2011, by 9.9 per cent.
However, while Ukraine’s overall score improved substantially, there were some notable deteriorations. The political instability indicator deteriorated by seven per cent last year due to uncertainty ahead of the 2019 presidential election. However, the election appears to have proceeded smoothly, paving the way for future improvement in this area.