Though the Western Balkans are making progress to membership in the European Union, politics in the region diverge from the script laid out in Brussels. International watchdogs and local civil society raise concern about democratic backsliding. The rule of law is shallow, the media fall under political control and parliamentary opposition fails to hold power-holders accountable. The 1990s crop of nationalist leaders has been replaced by a new generation who talk the talk of Europeanization and democracy, but rarely walk the walk. At the same time, past years have seen a true surge of civic activism in the region. From Tuzla to Belgrade to Skopje, popular protests have put pressure on elites and institutions, demanding accountability, rule of law and social justice. The roundtable explores the challenges to democratic development in the Balkans and address the question of whether citizens and bottom-up mobilization can compensate for the tilt to authoritarianism and the deficits and blindspots of EU conditionality.
Participants include Florian Bieber of the University of Graz, Jasmin Mujanović of the EastWest Institute, Jelena Subotić of Georgia State University and Milada Vachudova of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The discussion will be moderated by Dimitar Bechev.
This event is part of the newly launched Working Group on Southeast Europe (WGSEE), supported by the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Global Initiatives and the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies.