One year after it landed in Europe, the Covid-19 pandemic has left a deep mark on the Western Balkans. On the one hand, it has exacerbated geopolitical dynamics that had been ongoing for decades, especially with regards to the activity of external actors. And while the EU has continued to be inconclusive, proceeding at a snail’s pace with its carrot-and-stick approach, China has seized on the opportunity and expanded its footprint.
On the other hand, the pandemic has had deep consequences on domestic politics, too. The two keywords explaining local trends are continuity and new hopes. They are both shaping the speed and direction of democratic transitions or consolidations, which remain far from complete.
How has the geopolitical competition among big powers evolved in the Balkans over the last year? What have been the effects of the pandemic on local democratic standards? Is there room for new hopes in terms of regime change and citizen participation?
Introduction, Paolo Magri, Executive Vice President, ISPI
1. From Mask to Vaccine Diplomacy: Geopolitical Competition in the Western Balkans
Nikolaos Tzifakis, University of the Peloponnese, and Tena Prelec, University of Oxford
2. The Virus of Authoritarianism: The Case of Serbia
Giorgio Fruscione, ISPI
3. Democracy Still Has a Say in the Balkans
Jovana Marovic, Politikon Network
4. The Need for a More Progressive Region
Chiara Milan, Scuola Normale Superiore
5. Is the European Dream of the Western Balkans Fading Away?
Gentiola Madhi, OBCT
Belgrade and Pristina: A Dialogue Between the Deaf Mediated by the Blind?
Michael L. Giffoni, Former Italian Ambassador to Kosovo