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Dimitar Bechev, Martin Naunov and Milada Vachudova, ‘The Rise and Fall of Authoritarianism in Today’s Europe: North Macedonia, the EU and the Future of the Western Balkans’
March 21, 2019 at 12:15 pm - 2:00 pm
This roundtable discussion will discuss how the Western Balkans, and especially North Macedonia, fit in with broader trends of political change in post-communist Europe. Recent political changes in Macedonia give hope: the highly corrupt, authoritarian regime of Nikola Gruevski was ousted, and the new pro-European, reform-minded government has negotiated an end to a 20-year dispute, changing the country’s official name to North Macedonia to make peace with Greece. Recent political changes in other post-communist EU members and candidates, however, are in the opposite direction. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban styles himself as the leader of a new illiberal bloc, and would like to bring more populist strongman regimes into the EU. This may undermine the transformative power of the EU accession process as entrenched Balkan elites can look to Budapest for a model of how to combine authoritarianism with EU membership. Is political change in North Macedonia a harbinger of other countries moving back toward liberal democracy and support for European integration, or will Orban instead bring more and more countries into his illiberal bloc?
Dimitar Bechev is the director of the European Policy Institute, a think-tank based in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies (CSEEES) fellow. Martin Naunov is a researcher at the Prague Security Studies Institute, a think tank designed to strengthen the democratic institutions and individual freedoms of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Milada Vachudova is a UNC associate professor of political science, specializing in the democratization of postcommunist Europe. The discussion will be moderated by Silviya Nitsova, a UNC graduate student of comparative politics. Light lunch will be served.
This event is presented by the Forum on Southeast Europe with support from the UNC Center for Global Initiatives; UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies; Curriculum in Global Studies; and the UNC Center for European Studies.