The upcoming meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping is the main political event of the year in terms of Russian-Chinese relations. On the agenda there is the implementation of the agreement to reach a $200 bln bilateral trade level by 2020, the task that was assigned by the leaders of two countries. The key precondition for the success of this agreement is shifting to a new model of cooperation, with more connected production chains and diverse investment ties.
On May 20th, a group of four attacked the Archangel Michael Orthodox Church in the downtown of Grozny, Chechnya’s capital city. The attack came during a mass and killed a churchgoer and two police officers who came to the rescue.
Following a Constitutional Court decision in December 2016 and the EU's failure to turn the technical measures it tried to propose as part of an ambitious "Reform Agenda" into a comprehensive political strategy, Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing possibly its biggest political crisis after general elections will be held in October 2018 .
In a recent ISPI article, Valbona Zeneli wrote that, despite other big actors at play, the European Union is the only game in town in the Western Balkans (WB). Is it really so? A review of the activities of the three most important non-EU players in the region - Russia, Turkey and China - points us in another direction.
There is one paramount question to be asked after 18 years of EU enlargement efforts in the Western Balkans: What will happen if we don’t see materialize what we want to happen? We wanted to have democratic and prosperous Balkans integrated into the EU at the latest by 2014, but now we find ourselves debating whether the possible entry date of 2025 is not too optimistic.
Corruption is deeply rooted in the Western Balkans. A 2016 survey by SELDI (a southeast European network of think tanks against corruption) shows wide distribution of low-level administrative corruption in all the countries. Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina ‘lead’ the group with 40%, 29% and 28% of the respondents reporting involvement in at least one incident of bribe, gift or favor exchange.
Much has been achieved in the Western Balkans since the end of the Yugoslav Wars, yet much remains to be done. The current hard-won stability is something to rejoice at, but severe causes for concern still abound.
The issue of Macedonian identity is a political minefield which stretches beyond the naming dispute of the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with Greece. The stakes are high in getting it right because its outcome will not only reshape the future of the population 2-million country and the Western Balkans at large, but also the leverage of the EU in the region and its ambition to be the peace project uniting the whole of Europe.
Two years have passed since the refugee deal between the European Union and Turkey that officially closed the so-called "Balkan Route". But in these two years, facts have shown that this route has not been completely closed: it has only changed its directions and has become even more dangerous for migrants who are trying to reach Europe.
Most experts agree that Serbia has a "single-issue", the foreign policy of countersecession following Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. This issue shapes Serbia's official discourse and foreign policy.