Reviews

Compromise Too Far?

March 14, 2019
Good compromises, or the ability to strike them, is not something that south-east Europe is famed for. Rotten ones, on the other hand, seem to abound.

One Catch


North Macedonia’s special prosecutors. Photo: Robert Atanasovski

North Macedonia’s Special Prosecution (SJO) is seen as having been such a successful experiment that the government would like to transform it from a temporary, ad hoc institution into a permanent part of the regular prosecution service.

There is just one catch. To pass legislation to this effect, the country’s ruling coalition will need the support of at least some in the opposition. The only problem is that the SJO is doing a good job of investigating many figures within the (formerly ruling) opposition VMRO-DPMNE. Observers are already warning that the government risks making too many compromises with the opposition to secure its support.

Read more: North Macedonia Woos Opposition to Prolong Special Prosecution (March 11, 2019)


Disposable


Romania’s Justice Minister Tudorel Toader speaks during a press conference at the Governmnet Headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT

Romania’s Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has presided over a gutting of the country’s judicial system which has generated sharp opposition both within the country and inside the EU. In that sense, one might think that his political masters would be pleased with him.

Yet his job seems to be on the line, as the ruling parties appear to be mooting supporting an opposition motion of no confidence in him. For some within the ruling Social Democrats, he may be guilty of not gutting Romania’s judiciary hard enough. In another sense, he may already have delivered what was expected of him and served his purpose. Either way, for the ruling coalition he seems to be becoming expendable.

Read more: Romanian Ruling Party Turns on Justice Minister (March 11, 2019)


Shady Assets


Nela Kuburovic, the Minister of Justice of Serbia. Photo: EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

Serbian politicians have long been promising a law on checking the origins of people’s assets, but failing to pass one. Now, a tough sounding draft has been put forward, heralded as crucial in fighting corruption. But does the new draft law have ‘teeth’?

In principle, the law is a good idea in a country where corruption is rife. But many experts and watchdogs are far from convinced that the current draft law will have the necessary bite. They warn that it has too many potential loopholes. Even worse, it could become a tool for very selective use.

Read more: Serbia’s Assets Law Gives Politicians Little to Fear (March 12, 2019)


Coalition Building


The head of Democratic Party Vladimir Plahotniuc (C) with Prime Minister of Moldova Pavel Filip (R) and President of Parliament Andrian Candu (L) in a press conference on February 24, 2019. Photo: EPA/Doru Dumitru

The Moldovan Parliamentary election is over and the results are in, even if the dust of scandal that surrounded it is still settling. No absolute winner has emerged, meaning that coalition negotiations and wrangling will now need to take place.

Our analysis explores the different governing coalitions that have the most likelihood of emerging. As it shows, there are few options that have much chance of unseating the Democratic Party from power, despite the fact that it came second in the elections. We look at the ins and outs of coalition building in Chisinau.

Read more: Post-Election Mathematics Favour Moldova’s Democrats (March 8, 2019)


Wind in the Sails


Photo: Facebook

Athens is no stranger to mass protests, many of which have turned violent in the recent past. Much the same happened in late January when around 70,000 opponents of the Greek-Macedonian name deal gathered to protest against it, some of them clashing with police.

While the passage of the name deal is being celebrated as a major success internationally, within Greece some observers are warning that the deal has come as wind in the sails of new far-right groups vying for power and influence. Comparisons are being made to the rise of far-right Golden Dawn, which also exploited the Macedonian name issue in the 1990s. We explore in more detail.

Read more: North Macedonia Name Deal Inspires Far-Right Offshoots in Greece (March 13, 2019)


Stop


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci (L) arrive for a joint statement as part of a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 2018. Photo: EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON

With ever more signs that some kind of land swap deal between Belgrade and Pristina is in the air, can anything be done to stop it? In their comment for Balkan Insight, Kurt Bassuener and Toby Vogel argue that such plans threaten to destroy several decades of trans-Atlantic efforts to block any possibility of borders being withdrawn along ethnic lines.

To make things worse, all of this, they argue, is being done for the sake of short-term expediency and the self-promotion of a few senior international figures whose mandates are coming to an end and who are looking for ‘quick wins’ on the international stage to secure their legacies. Can anything be done to stop them?

Read more: Germany Must Stop Dangerous Drive to Partition Kosovo (March 13, 2019)

Milos Damnjanovic