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Ing. Salih CAVKIC
Editor
by ORBUS.ONE
info@orbus.one
www.orbus.one




Prof. dr. Murray Hunter
University Malaysia Perlis




Eva MAURINA
20 Years to Trade Economic Independence for Political Sovereignty - Eva MAURINA



IN MEMORIAM

Aleš Debeljak +
In Defense of Cross-Fertilization: Europe and Its Identity Contradictions - Aleš Debeljak

ALEŠ DEBELJAK - ABECEDA DJETINJSTVA

ALEŠ DEBEJAK - INTERVJU; PROSVJEDI, POEZIJA, DRŽAVA




Rattana Lao
Rattana Lao holds a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently teaching in Bangkok.




Bakhtyar Aljaf
Director of Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia




Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Géométrie variable of a love triangle – India, Russia and the US





Amna Whiston
Amna Whiston is a London-based writer specialising in moral philosophy. As a PhD candidate at Reading University, UK, her main research interests are in ethics, rationality, and moral psychology.





Eirini Patsea 
Eirini Patsea is a Guest Editor in Modern Diplomacy, and specialist in Cultural Diplomacy and Faith-based Mediation
.




Belmir Selimovic
Can we trust the government to do the right thing, are they really care about essential things such as environmental conditions and education in our life?




IN MEMORIAM


Dubravko Lovrenović + Univ. prof. Dubravko Lovrenović is one of the leading European Medievalist specialized in the Balkans, pre-modern and modern political history.




Manal Saadi
Postgraduate researcher in International Relations and Diplomacy at the Geneva-based UMEF University




doc.dr.Jasna Cosabic
professor of IT law and EU law at Banja Luka College,
Bosnia and Herzegovina




Aleksandra Krstic
Studied in Belgrade (Political Science) and in Moscow (Plekhanov’s IBS). Currently, a post-doctoral researcher at the Kent University in Brussels (Intl. Relations). Specialist for the MENA-Balkans frozen and controlled conflicts.

Contact: alex-alex@gmail.com






Dr. Swaleha Sindhi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. Decorated educational practitioner Dr. Sindhi is a frequent columnist on related topics, too. She is the Vice President of Indian Ocean Comparative Education Society (IOCES). Contact: swalehasindhi@gmail.com




Barçın Yinanç
 It is an Ankara-based journalist and notable author. She is engaged with the leading Turkish dailies and weeklies for nearly three decades as a columnist, intervieweer and editor. Her words are prolifically published and quoted in Turkish, French an English.




 By İLNUR ÇEVIK
Modified from the original: They killed 1 Saddam and created 1,000 others (Daily Sabah)




Aine O’Mahony
Aine O'Mahony has a bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently a master's student of Leiden University in the International Studies programme.Contact: aine-claire.nini@hotmail.fr




Elodie Pichon

  Elodie Pichon has a  bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently doing a MA in Geopolitics, territory and Security at King's College London. Contact : elodie.pichon@gmail.com




Qi Lin

Qi Lin, a MA candidate of the George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs. Her research focus is on cross-Pacific security and Asian studies, particularly on the Sino-U.S. relations and on the foreign policy and politics of these two.




ALESSANDRO CIPRI
Born in Chile and raised in Rome, Alessandro Cipri has just finished his postgraduate studies at the department of War Studies of King's College London, graduating with distinction from the Master's Degree in "Intelligence and International Security". Having served in the Italian Army's "Alpini" mountain troops, he has a keen interest in national security, military strategy, insurgency theory, and terrorism studies. His Master's dissertation was on the impact of drug trafficking on the evolution of the Colombian FARC.




Ms. Lingbo ZHAO
is a candidate of the Hong Kong Baptist University, Department of Government and International Studies. Her research interest includes Sino-world, Asia and cross-Pacific.

Contact: harryzhaolin@gmail.com

 


Hannes Grassegger
Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.

 

Mikael Krogerus

Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.

 


Michal Kosinski

Scientific analysis

 


Elodie Pichon,
Ms. Elodie Pichon, Research Fellow of the IFIMES Institute, DeSSA Department. This native Parisian is a Master in Geopolitics, Territory and Security from the King’s College, London, UK.





Djoeke Altena



Muhamed Sacirbey
Muhamed Sacirbey

Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey currently lectures on Digital-Diplomacy. "Mo" has benefited from a diverse career in investment banking & diplomacy, but his passion has been the new avenues of communication. He was Bosnia & Herzegovina's first Ambassador to the United Nations, Agent to the International Court of Justice, Foreign Minister & Signatory of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. He also played American football opting for a scholarship to Tulane University in New Orleans after being admitted to Harvard, oh well!!




Amanda Janoo

Amanda Janoo is an Alternative Economic Policy Adviser to governments and development organizations. Graduate from Cambridge University with an MPhil in Development Studies, Amanda worked at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) supporting government's with evidence-based industrial policy design for inclusive and sustainable growth. Her research focus is on the relationship between international trade and employment generation. She has worked throughout Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa promoting greater economic self-determination and empowerment.




Michael dr. Logies,

Germany




Endy Bayuni

The writer, editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post, took part in the Bali Civil Society and Media Forum, organized by the Institute for Peace and Democracy and the Press Council, on Dec.5-6.




Élie Bellevrat
Élie Bellevrat is the WEO Energy Analysts




 Kira West
 Kira West is the WEO Energy Analysts




Victor Davis Hanson NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.




Alexander Savelyev - Chief Research Fellow at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (Moscow, Russia). In 1989-1991 was a member of Soviet negotiating team at START-1 negotiations (Defense and Space Talks).




Ingrid Stephanie Noriega
Ingrid Stephanie Noriega is junior specialist in International Relations, Latina of an immense passion for human rights, democratic accountability, and conflict resolution studies as it relates to international development for the Latin America and Middle East – regions of her professional focus.




Syeda Dhanak Fatima Hashmi
Author is a Foreign Policy Analyst and Research Head at a think tank based in Islamabad. She has done Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Governance and Public Policy. Her areas of research include both regional as well as global issues of contemporary international relations.




Pia Victoria Poppenreiter

Davos: The Other Side of the Mirror
An “inventor, startup guru, conceptualist and CEO” hangs out at the world’s four-day power lunch




Jomo Kwame Sundaram,
a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.




Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe. Earlier version published by the GeterstoneInstitute under the title France Slowly Sinking into Chaos




Mr. Masato Abe, specialist at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific







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2019
 


Belt and Road Initiative: Challenging South and Southeast Asia

Dr. Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat

The euphoria about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Indonesia and elsewhere in South and Southeast Asia (SEA) has been felt since 2017, particularly following the country’s participation in the BRI Summit in Beijing that year, where Indonesia (along with other SAARC and ASEAN member states) was expected to receive massive investments from China to support several infrastructure projects.
This year, the debates concerning the BRI are again becoming prevalent after Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan as Indonesia's representative signed 28 BRI projects last April. Among the various debated subjects is the growing concern about the real nature of the BRI. Is that a Chinese developmental initiative or a geopolitical instrument that uses debt-trap as a tool to bring targeted countries into the desired terms.


The BRI as Chinese debt trap

In the realisation of the BRI, China is targeted to spend US $ 4.4 trillion (Rp 62.7 thousand trillion) which is divided into various infrastructure projects in 65 countries. The funds from China will be disbursed from three main institutions, namely the Export-Import Bank of China, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund. However, the implementation of the BRI caused various kinds of controversy, one of which was related to the fear of a debt trap.

Sri Lanka is one of the BRI participating countries that must give up on China’s debt. The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) project in Sri Lanka which costed US $ 190 million (Rp 2.7 trillion) with an interest of 6.3 percent did not benefit from the airport's operations.

As a result, the Sri Lankan government is losing money. This made the country unable to pay debts to China. The inability to pay credit or interest, at the end of June 2016, led Sri Lanka to make an agreement with China in the form of equity (surrendering land for lease) for 99 years to the country.

According to a well-known SAARC strategic analyst based in India, Brahma Chellaney, what China does with its BRI is a debt-trap diplomacy effort, where this type of diplomacy is a bilateral relationship that is interwoven on the basis of debt. In its operations, this type of diplomacy involves a creditor country that deliberately extends excessive credit to the debtor country. If the debtor country cannot fulfill its debt obligations, often the creditor country will make it possible to interfere with economic and political conditions in the debtor country.

Acknowledging this, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in August 2018 said his country would stop funding-backed projects from China, including a railway line worth US $ 20 billion as there is a possibility that the country would be trapped in huge debts.

“We should avoid binary categorisations… However, a bilateral approach in developmental strategies historically does not bring back satisfactory results. Besides the Bretton Woods instruments – often enveloped in controversies, do not forget developmental champions. All of them are multilateral institutions of fair conditionalities, of balanced and transparent instruments: UNIDO, ADB, but also Islamic Development Bank, OFID or UNCTAD. If not a loan, ask them at least for advice”, prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic reminded us recently in Kuala Lumpur at the Economic Forum.


Indonesia and lessons from Malaysia

The same concern is also prevalent in Indonesia, given that the country, in the midst of many of its own problems, the government seemed to be incessantly ambitious to continue to take part in the BRI. It is important to remember that currently Indonesia's external debt has reached US$387.6 billion at the first quarter of 2019. It consists of government and central bank external debts of US$190.5 billion that have slightly rose by 3.1 percent (year-on-year) and private external debts of US$197.1 bilion that have rocketed by 12.8 percent (year-on-year).

Although the ratio of Indonesia’s external debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is relatively safe at the level 36.9 percent and S&P Global Rating has just raised the long-term sovereign credit ratio for Indonesia from “BBB-“ to “BBB”, the Indonesia’s economic foundation is very fragile.

In 2018, for instance, the massive capital outflow made significant depreciation of the Rupiah against the US dollar due to the hike of Fed Fund Rates and the contagion of Turkish lira crisis. The currency hit about 15,000 rupiah against the greenbacks, the lowest level since the 1998 financial crisis, and made it one of the worst performing currencies in the region.
The extreme volatility of the Rupiah causes payments of interests and foreign debts more expensive. The 1998 financial crisis provided a precious experience that many companies faced default and the country’s economy experience chaos with economic growth of -13.1%. With such conditions, how come Indonesia dear to magnify its debts by signing massive BRI projects?

There is also a concern that the BRI projects is, instead of profiting Indonesia, putting the country at a disadvantage. One example comes from the Palembang LRT project, which has the same potential as the airport in Sri Lanka, is empty with little visitors. In fact, this project must suffer losses with an operating burden of Rp. 8.9 billion (US$618, 545) per month.

By looking at the fact that infrastructure projects have not been able to improve economic growth and to the gap in inequality - especially in the East - as well as various other disputes, the government's decision to sign many BRI projects is certainly questionable. Also ironic is that the implementation of infrastructure development in Indonesia remains suffering from overt corruption practices. Instead of aiming at the welfare of society, infrastructure projects often become fields of concern for interested parties. Overall, there is a possibility that Indonesia will face Chinese debt trap is it is not careful, which would have negative impacts on the Indonesian economy.

The government needs to be able to make sure that participating in the BRI would not led to its loss. As what Malaysia has done, Jakarta may need to renegotiate with China on the terms and conditions of those projects. Indonesia must realise that China needs them more than they need China as the planned maritime route under the BRI would not be realised without Indonesia. Malaysian case demonstrates that negotiation is possible with China. Failure to do the above, it would not be surprising if what happened to Sri Lanka would also happen to Indonesia.


Dr. Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat is a lecturer at Universitas Islam Indonesia and a research associate at Jakarta-based Institute for Development of Economics and Finance.
Dendy Indramawan is a research assistant at Jakarta-based Institute for Development of Economics and Finance.



NOVEMBER 20,  2019



 

International Institute IFIMES prepared the analysis of actual political situation in the Western Balkans prior to the European Council meeting to be held in Brussels on 17th and 18th October 2019, where the date for the start of negotiations with Republic North Macedonia and Republic Albania for their EU membership shall be determined. From the comprehensive analysis “Western Balkans 2019: Does the EU push the Western Balkans countries to the Russian ‘hug’?” we present the most important and the most interesting parts.

Western Balkans 2019:

Western Balkans and decades ‘eaten’ by the EU’s double standards

Regular autumn meeting of the European Council (EC) shall be held on 17th and 18th October in Brussels. Although the importance of meeting of the EU leaders is focused on Brexit on October 31st 2019, the Western Balkans expects that the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Albania get the date for the start of the negotiations with the EU.

The EU was made as peace project after the end of the World War II and it enabled to ensure permanent peace in Europe and long-term stability. In recent past, in the Western Balkans though, several wars were going on. Therefore, a fragile peace was established and temporary stability.

The analysts believe that the EU leaders must be aware of the fact that if they want the EU peace project to be continued, it needs to be implemented in the Western Balkans countries, because through the EU membership, it would be ensured that countries of that region achieve permanent peace and long-term stability. As long as the Western Balkans is an unstable region, the EU shall not be able to address the key issues and long-term strategic positioning in the international framework.
Is the Western Balkans a stepchild of Europe ?

European leaders have often confirmed their support to the Western Balkans and its Euro Atlantic road, expressing at the same time concerns about the impact of individual states in the region, particularly Russia, China and Turkey. The EU with its enlargement stalemate practically pushes the Western Balkans counters to Russian „hug“, to blame in the end those countries for their close relations and cooperation with Russia. However, some EU states always set new requirements and membership criteria for the Western Balkans.

Some experts have been pointing out that 15 EU member countries would not be able to fully meet the membership criteria now, which are required from the Western Balkans countries. They also note that Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to the EU membership, as well as Croatia recently, without imposing so strict requirements of the membership. In 2004 only 9,5 countries were accepted to the EU membership, because only half the Cyprus was accepted. The French region Corsica and the Italian region Sicily are also mentioned as those, where the EU regulations do not function at all as stipulated by the EU standards, regulations and directives.

(Non)functioning of the EU can be illustrated best on the example of the dialogue between official Belgrade and Pristina on normalization of the relations, which is mediated by the EU. Although so called Brussels agreement on dialogue was signed on April 19, 2013 the dialogue was terminated and its destiny is not certain.

The dialogue was held non-transparently, while on the other side the EU demands transparency from the Western Balkans countries, though the EU is non-transparent itself. It proved in the cases of tax evasion for certain transnational companies, which were happening in Luxembourg in times when its prime minister was the current president of the European Commission Jean-Cloud Juncker (EPP). There are numerous examples of non-transparency and unacceptable role of the EU.


The Unacceptable role of the EU – the case of Ursula van der Leyen

The latest example of an unacceptable role of the EU is disputable visit of newly elected president of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen (CDU/EPP) to the Republic of Croatia. She will have to be more careful in future when it comes to the Western Balkans and actions of the European Commission. Von der Leyen said during the visit that she will work on bringing closer the Western Balkans countries to the EU. The Western Balkans is the part of the Europe and if the EU wants those countries to become EU members, it must precisely define the year of the enlargement, and not only send the statements about this; otherwise those countries will be forced to find some other solutions to take.

Croatia is typical example of new European behaviour. Actually, Croatia does not respect the decisions of international arbitration court regarding the cross-border dispute with Slovenia. At the same time, Republic of Croatia does not respect the decision of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Courts for the crimes perpetrated in the former Yugoslavia (MICT), by which certain highly positioned officials of Croatia and Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) are sentenced by absolute decision for participation in the associated crime against Bosnia and Herzegovina. HDZ is a political party against which the process is ongoing at the district court in Zagreb. At the same time it should be added that the position of Serbian community in Croatia suddenly deteriorated after Croatia became full member of the EU. Serbian community was cooperative and important factor, which contributed that Croatia became the EU member.

The audit of events from the Word War II is ongoing in Croatia where the attempts are made to rehabilitate fascist and collaboration armies and present them as anti-fascist. Of enormous importance is the position of Jewish community, which still did not resolve the issue of returning its property taken from them. Audit of history contributed that the Jewish community and other anti-fascist associations independently and in fact separately celebrate anniversary of liberation from the concentration camp Jasenovac that was held by the Ustasha regime. Representatives of the Croatian state do not take place at those commemorations. Pro fascist appearances and speeches of the president of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (HDZ) and her open involvement in internal affairs in the nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina are evident.
Croatia as the EU and NATO member did not resolve open border issues with any of the neighbours except for Hungary, since it inherited that border from former Yugoslavia.

Republic Croatia shall on January 1, 2020 start with the Presidency of the EU Council. The focus of its presidency will be the Western Balkans where it is in conflict with almost all states. Croatia does not recognize legal and legitimate election of the Croat Željko Komšić (DF) for Presidency member of Bosnian and Herzegovina from the Croatian population only because its favourite president of HDZ BiH controversial Dragan Čović (HDZ BiH) was not elected. Komšić was elected based on the same election law by which Mr Čović was previously elected. It became almost constant trend that Croatian officials misuse their EU and NATO membership when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as to the Republic of Serbia. It is expected that similar situation will be soon in the Council of Europe (CoE), because secretary general of the Council of Europe is Marija Pejčinović Burić (HDZ), former minister of foreign affairs of Croatia.

The analysts find worrying the fact that the EU and NATO institutions did not react to the behaviour of Croatia when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, because it is evident Croatia misuses its EU and NATO membership. Many war criminals find their shelter in Croatia, including those who were sentenced by absolute decision in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the crimes they perpetrated, while Croatian secret services harass the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina living on its territory. Croatian police practices inhuman behaviour against the migrants (beating and torture) and performs illegal readmission of migrants from its territory to BiH, which was already alerted by the human rights organisations. Croatia strongly builds its relations with Russia despite the introduced sanctions of the EU against Russia. Croatia shall need help to face and overcome challenges and situations it is in. If it wants its chair mandate in the EU not to be doomed in advance, at least when it comes to the Western Balkans, it shall need help from the EU as well as from the countries of the region, because the experiences so far showed that „facing the self“ is the most difficult.


Trilateral Serbia – North Macedonia – Albania

In Novi Sad on October 10, 2019 trilateral meeting between president of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić (SNS) and prime ministers of North Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev (SDSM) and Edi Rama (PS) was held. Declaration of measures for establishment of „small Schengen“ was signed between the three countries.

This declaration should help the entire Western Balkans region to start functioning in four key EU freedoms – freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and people.

Joint declaration foresees elimination of state border controls and other obstacles to simpler movement in the region until 2021, and also to enable citizens to travel in the region with personal ID card only as well as to find employments anywhere if they have the certificate of their qualifications.

Declaration also foresees recognition of diplomas in the region as well as better cooperation in combatting organised crime and support in cases of natural disasters.

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić invited all so-called members of the Balkans six to accept the document about “small Schengen”, regardless of their differences referring to the recognition of Kosovo.

The prime minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev said that the initiative for economic networking of the countries in the region should be joined by all six Western Balkans countries (Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo).

Zaev said that North Macedonia supported the initiative because „much more needs to be done in economic networking. We are sending message that political relations in the region become simpler, that Balkans is not a barrel of gunpowder anymore but the region of stability and economic development, committed to the Euro integrations and improvement of the standard of its citizens“.
Last week the president of Serbia Vučić held in Belgrade trilateral meeting Serbia-Turkey-Bosnia and Herzegovina and the joint basis for commencement of works on highway Belgrade – Sarajevo was laid, which is one of the important infrastructure projects.

Experts believe that those are new positive moments arriving from Serbia and its president Aleksandar Vučić which should be welcomed and supported by the EU in order to continue and additionally intensify that trend of cooperation. It is expected that new and better era for the future of Serbia and the region shall start.


The Western Balkans as the new Višegrad Group

On the initiative of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, with the support of North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, mutual cooperation in the Western Balkans region has been intensified. The Western Balkans leaders are aware of the need to take strong steps towards mutual cooperation, which will be aimed at creating better living conditions for citizens and, especially important, stopping the trend of mass displacement of population from the region.

Analysts believe that the countries of the Western Balkans must establish strong political, economic, cultural and any other form of cooperation and act jointly towards the EU, as a group of states with clearly defined requirements. When it comes to the EU enlargement, it is necessary to specify when the enlargement will take place, since it cannot be delayed indefinitely. It is important to emphasize that regional cooperation does not mean that the countries of the region have given up their European path and the EU membership, which Montenegro expresses as its concern.

In so doing, as an experience can serve the cooperation within the so-called Višegrad group of countries (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), which very often jointly act within the EU with clearly expressed demands and attitudes. Moreover, the Višegrad Group was formed to make it easier and faster for these countries to join the EU and NATO, which they did. Therefore, it is important for the countries of the region to act jointly towards the EU and / or other foreign policy initiatives, as a single approach is insufficient and does not guarantee success.


The date for the start of the negotiations with the EU for North Macedonia and Albania

At the EU Summit on 17 and 18 October 2019 in Brussels, the decision on the date for the start of negotiations should be taken. Although some member states were sceptical of assigning the date, in the end only France remained to approve the start of the EU negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

Analysts believe that the EU member states, including France, must show vision for the enlargement, because if the enlargements had not happened in the past, the EU would never have developed into such respectable regional integration. Given that the EU has 27 members (excluding the UK), there is always the possibility of different conditions and blockades, which should be avoided or not allowed by the member states. This is especially important in circumstances where other countries are trying to exert strong influence in the Western Balkans, above all Russia, China and Turkey. The EU hesitance can have strategic consequences in the Western Balkans and it is due to uncertainty about EU membership and pressures from the domestic public, that certain countries could change their geopolitical orientation.

Analysts believe that the reservations of France and its President, Emmanuel Macron (ALDE), when it comes to assigning the dates to start EU negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania show another absurdity of the European policy. Specifically, Macron's La République En Marche Party is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament (ALDE), who are strong supporters of the enlargement, and that its member La République En Marche is blocking the enlargement. This is why ALDE is under a historic responsibility because President Macron belongs to ALDE. It is surprising to see French President Macron, who was seen as the new leader of Europe two years ago when coming to power. With the announcement of the blockade of the assigning the date for the start of negotiations for North Macedonia and Albania, Macron shows that he has no vision and disassociates with his political group ALDE within the EU, which is a strong proponent of the enlargement, thereby assuming a huge responsibility for the EU's destiny and enlargement process.

In addition to the issue of stability in the Western Balkans region, it also concerns the credibility of European leaders. Namely, at the EU summit in June 2018, they decided that they would assign in 2019 a date for the start of negotiations to North Macedonia and Albania, if they meet conditions for the start of negotiations. For both countries, and especially for North Macedonia, this has been clearly achieved. If no date is set for the start of negotiations (the start of negotiations does not mean the EU membership), European leaders will eat their word and lose their credibility. This will also call into question (Robert) Schuman's vision of the united Europe. In that case, one could even say that President Macron was working against the idea of his great countryman, who launched the project of today's EU.


The EU has jeopardized the American interests as well

The dialogue between official Belgrade and Pristina was led by the EU as a mediator. The dialogue was a fiasco. No significant progress has been made in the last ten years since the Western Balkans region was left to the care of the EU. Other countries, especially Russia, China and Turkey, have strengthened their presence and influence in the region. Such action by the EU necessitated the return of the United States to the Balkans. The justified questions are, is the EU a reliable partner and can the EU overcome the internal crisis without strong support of the USA?

Analysts believe that of particular symbolic importance, and may be the last chance because of the credibility of the EU in the Western Balkans, is to save the Western Balkan countries from the “hug” of Russia, China and Turkey by assigning the start date of EU negotiations for North Macedonia and Albania, at the EU summit in Brussels, and to accelerate work on conclusion of a dialogue between official Belgrade and Pristina by signing a legally binding agreement, while the countries in the region intensively work on the regional co-operation started in the region.


Ljubljana, October 16, 2019

IFIMES is an international institute of the Special Consultative status with the UN. It has permanent representations with the Un in New York, Geneva and Vienna respectively.



OCTOBER 21,  2019


Limits to the Asia-Pacific Growth

By Meseto Abe

Following the massive socio-economic success of the largest continent, corruption is the next battleground in the development of the Asia-Pacific. Lately, it has hampered inclusive and sustainable development and is a primary cause of the difficulty experienced by developing Asian-Pacific countries in advancing beyond the middle-income bracket.

Fostered by weak regulation and enforcement frameworks, corruption comes in many forms, including bribery, embezzlement, and cronyism. It undermines not only business ethics and positive social norms, but also people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions, and leaders.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which measures corruption in 180 countries annually, reveals that high-income countries experience far less corruption than their lower-income counterparts do. With Singapore in sixth place and Afghanistan in 177th, the Asia-Pacific is home to countries at both extremes of the CPI. China and India, the world’s most populous countries, are ranked 77th and 81st, respectively.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific have made some efforts to combat corruption, but that the problem remains widespread throughout the region tells us that these are not enough. In fact, there seems to be a willful lack of attention among these countries about tackling corruption head-on.

Corruption affects every aspect of society

This lack of attention may be due to the widespread belief that corruption helps “grease the wheels” in business activities. Top companies pay large amounts to receive faster and better service from authorities; this, the thinking goes, makes the economy more efficient. In the Asia-Pacific, this often manifests itself as bribes, gifts, banquets, and favors given by business entities to politicians and bureaucrats. In the view of its proponents and those who tolerate it, corruption speeds up the wheels of commerce and positively impacts companies’ development by easing bureaucratic barriers. Corruption can also facilitate a company’s entry into a highly regulated economy that is difficult to penetrate otherwise.

But these benefits hold true only for a small number of companies. Corruption has an inverse U-shaped relationship with company revenue: a company may gain benefits when it pays bribes, but the benefits are subject to diminishing returns after a certain amount. Also, corruption has a significant negative correlation with companies’ overall satisfaction with their business environment. These two points seem to indicate that rather than “greasing the wheels,” corruption actually “sands the wheels.”

In fact, corruption has adverse effects on overall economic development. It reduces investment, lowers growth rates, and negatively impacts efficiency. At the company level, corruption absorbs returns from business activities and distorts entrepreneurial spirit and behavior. Companies that are involved in corruption report rises in operational costs of 10 percent on average, in addition to greater uncertainty. These factors ultimately have an impact on their strategic and investment decisions. This could explain why some studies have shown that foreign direct investment in countries that are perceived as corrupt is almost 5 percent lower than it is in countries that are relatively corruption-free.

Corruption also negatively impacts political and societal landscapes. As money that is meant for the public is funnelled away, the cost of providing and maintaining public goods and services increases. Vital goods and services like roads and telecommunications networks eventually fall into disrepair or are not delivered at all due to a lack of funds.

Corruption also undermines the rule of law and the government’s ability to combat externalities such as pollution and security risks. In addition, it hinders development by diverting resources away from productive sectors and reducing human capital and tax revenues. Corruption has been shown to decrease national productivity and diminish the effectiveness of foreign aid. On a macro level, these and other effects of corruption can strip a country of gains from trade in the absence of good institutions. Corruption also makes it more difficult for the poor and other disadvantaged groups, such as women and minorities, to obtain public services, thus deepening inequality.

How can countries reduce corruption?

Governments should introduce anti-corruption laws, which typically require government officials to declare their assets, and enforce strict penalties for corrupt practices. For example, in the wake of recent high-profile revelations of bribery and embezzlement at major state-controlled enterprises, Singapore’s anti-corruption watchdog plans to strengthen anti-graft laws with more severe financial penalties.

The introduction and strengthening of anti-corruption laws can have a massive impact. In 2005, India passed the Right to Information Act, which aimed to make administrative procedures transparent. The law reduced corrupt practices significantly and has since been hailed as a pivotal achievement in the country’s fight against corruption. The rule of law and administrative actions must be constant to be effective in reducing corruption.

Governments can also implement a number of reforms in their legal systems and administrative processes. Such reforms could include measures that provide oversight of the financial sector, public procurement, customs procedures, construction licenses, land registration, and corporate establishment and dissolution. These require adequate institutional capacity and financial support to be successful. Kazakhstan, for instance, has recently strengthened its anti-money-laundering regime: it is now largely compliant with international standards. However, the government still lacks the resources and expertise to properly enforce the regulations. To successfully tackle corruption, strong, transparent, and accountable institutions that deal with taxation, budgeting, and spending must also be established.

Indeed, an effective fight against corruption requires the building of robust democratic institutions, particularly those that champion trade openness, fair competition, and press freedom. Institutional structures are also important, as more decentralized states have lower levels of corruption. As can be expected, social norms and culture are important determinants of corruption levels, but they can be hard to measure. In general, strengthening governance is a good way to reduce corruption, because inefficient bureaucracies make it easier for corrupt practices to be carried out.

Beyond national governments, the United Nations and its various agencies must raise awareness of corruption in the Asia-Pacific. Addressing and combating the issue will pave the way for countries in the region to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

While Transparency International plays a leading role in exposing corruption worldwide, the World Bank has drawn up, and continuously updates, anti-corruption policies for governments. The International Monetary Fund also recently unveiled its new framework for addressing corruption. Developing countries in the Asia-Pacific must embed the principles of both the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the OECD Bribery Convention in their governance frameworks. Engagement with international organizations can facilitate the development of an effective national anti-corruption strategy.

For this purpose, “a committed political leadership and broad political support are necessary” – says the independent expert in the field, Luigi Coretti of Canada. It well captures a consensus on the matter in the community of specialists. Coretti concludes: “Engagement with local stakeholders, such as civil society organizations, the media, and academic institutions, helps build a sense of national ownership and ensure the acceptability and effectiveness of coordinated and comprehensive actions.” Both governments and companies are encouraged to report to these stakeholders their anti-corruption activities and outcomes achieved. They should also use all available communications channels, such as websites and flyers, to provide more insight into their assessment mechanisms and corrective actions.

Finally, it is to hope that more comprehensive research will be conducted to help identify ways to eradicate corruption and other business obstacles in the Asia-Pacific. One crucial issue in this arena is that many previous studies on corruption have been conducted jointly with local authorities, so their results are questionable. With the participation of the authorities in such research, surveyed firms and people are likely to be hesitant to offer their candid opinions on the level of corruption among officials. Before any anti-corruption strategies can be determined for a given country, we must have the full picture of the problem of corruption.




About the author:
Masato Abe, specialist at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific



OCTOBER 1,  2019


The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has prepared an analysis of the situation in Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia in view of the forthcoming early parliamentary election in Kosovo scheduled for 6 October 2019. The most relevant and interesting sections from the comprehensive analysis entitled “Kosovo – Albania – North Macedonia 2019: In anticipation of the collapse of the Thaçi-Rama conjoined regimes?” are published below

Kosovo – Albania – North Macedonia 2019: 

In anticipation of the collapse of the Thaçi-Rama conjoined regimes?

The Western Balkans has been the epicentre of instability in recent years. Global geopolitical changes have shaken this restless region which still hasn’t recovered from recent wars that raged through it. 

The region is bly affected by confrontations between the superpowers and the main regional actors. The whole Western Balkans functions according to the "linked vessels" principle, which means that any instability –as well as stability – is very quickly transferred to other parts of the region. 

The situation is most serious in Kosovo and Albania. Both countries are governed by long-standing regimes: in Kosovo led by its President Hashim Thaçi (PDK) and in Albania under its Prime Minister Edi Rama (PS). 

The events in Kosovo and Albania cannot be viewed separately, since they are actually triggered by two closely-related regimes that regularly generate crises. 


Why is Kosovo 2019 early election so important?

Kosovo will hold early parliamentary election on 6 October 2019. It is expected that the incumbent regime will lose the election, which will accelerate the fall of Edi Rama's regime in Albania.

Prime Minister Rama was therefore actively involved in the attempts to persuade the Kosovo opposition political parties to avoid early election and form a new government, but his attempts eventually failed. Rama is aware that Thaçi's election defeat will also bring his regime to an end. 

With the fall of Thaçi regime, Rama's criminal and corruption octopus spreading its tentacles to Kosovo will start to unveil. Both Thaçi and Rama have an almost identical modus operandi based on plundering public resources, intimidating citizens and political opponents, election frauds and vote-buying, deceiving the international community, constantly producing crises and disputes with the opposition in order to create a controlled chaos in which they can maintain their power with the enormous amounts of dirty money. In this situation, crime and corruption have determined not only the way they rule the country but also the way they live. The forthcoming early parliamentary election will unveil Thaçi's network of mercenaries. It will also reveal which of the high international envoys and state officials working for Thaçi's regime will visit Kosovo in September 2019. This will point to those who are a part of the political and diplomatic corruption that keeps Thaçi in power.

Analysts have pointed to very b connections between politics, business (tycoons) and crime, which was evident during the formation of coalitions for the forthcoming early election. Namely, the political-criminal circles prevented the formation of the pre-election coalition of the Self-Determination Movement (Lëvizja Vetëvendosje  – LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Within LDK those political-criminal circles are symbolised by Lutfi Haziri and Agim Veliu who cooperate tightly with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and its leader Hashim Thaçi. Therefore the votes given to LDK at the forthcoming election will actually be votes for PDK and Thaçi. Unfortunately, Germany has also interfered in the situation in Kosovo through its Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The aim of all those activities is to prevent the Self-Determination Movement (LVV) from taking over the government and to eliminate Albin Kurti as the convincing favourite for the new Prime Minister position.

Analysts have noted that Kosovo's political parties perceive elections as a chance to gain power for undisturbed plundering of public resources rather than as an opportunity to act responsibly for the interests and welfare of their country and its citizens. Kosovo's foreign policy has experienced a complete fiasco, not being able to provide the visa-free regime to its citizens nor participation in Interpol to its police forces. In the meanwhile, more than ten states have withdrawn their international recognition of Kosovo, which Serbia presents as its great success.


Imposition of customs tariffs on imports from Serbia and BiH and the beginning of Serbian opposition protests – just a coincidence?

The fact is that crime and corruption have no borders. This is especially evident in the Western Balkans, where crises and even armed clashes have been constantly produced for the past 30 years. 

Kosovo is led by military and political-criminal structures, which maintain their power by producing crises and through crime and corruption. They have even involved some high officials from other states and some top European Union (EU) officials.

Analysts believe that those political-criminal structures and regimes do not want to build b state institutions as this would not be in their interest. With b institutions there would be much less manoeuvring space for political-criminal structures.

On 21 November 2018 the Kosovo Government illegally imposed 100% customs tariffs on imports from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Serbia, which represented a blatant violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). The EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina had been at a standstill for a few months by then. Thaçi's regime justified the severe violation of the CEFTA Agreement with the demand for Serbia to recognise Kosovo's independence, while in fact it used it as a cover-up for other intentions. On the other hand, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue still hasn't led to signing a legally binding deal. The question is whether it is only a coincidence that the Kosovo Government imposed customs tariffs on imports from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia on 21 November 2018 while on 30 November 2018 the Serbian opposition launched their first protests. Why was the public not informed of the meetings held between Thaçi's regime and the Serbian opposition representatives?

Analysts believe that it is not a coincidence that the imposition of import tariffs for Serbia and BiH and the beginning of Serbian opposition protests both took place in November last year. Why was the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue discontinued if the two parties had committed to conclude the dialogue by signing a legally binding agreement? Are the meetings of Kosovo and Albanian politicians with the Serbian opposition in any connection with the attempts to weaken the power of Serbian President  Aleksandar Vučić (SNS) and eventually to overthrow him? Why did Thaçi's regime sacrifice the visa-free regime for Kosovo citizens? Probably the most interesting question is whether Thaçi's regime is involved in financing the opposition protests in Serbia. The Serb List will be under greatest fire during the election campaign, since it is the absolute favourite among Serbian voters and enjoys the support of Serbian President Vučić. Anyhow, the election campaign in Kosovo will be marked by tensions and warmongering rhetoric. 

Past experiences in the Balkans have shown that political-criminal structures permanently produce crises not only in their own states but also in other, especially the neighbouring countries, in order to realise certain interests or achieve certain influence. 

The question is who benefits from creating further crises in the region, bearing in mind that the issue of North Macedonia has been resolved and the country has now an open door to join NATO, so it is now the turn to resolve the Kosovo issue and then to stabilise and resolve the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Attacks on North Macedonia resemble attacks on Montenegro before it gained NATO membership 

The Republic of North Macedonia signed the accession protocol with NATO on 6 February 2019. The protocol is now being ratified by NATO member states. So far 19 states have ratified it. North Macedonia's full membership is expected to be confirmed at NATO summit in London in December this year. 

However, North Macedonia will continue to be under attacks and attempts to discredit its leaders and institutions. Experience has shown that Montenegro underwent similar attacks until it became full member of NATO. The international intelligence operation known as "racket" was skilfully designed outside North Macedonia with carefully selected actors and their roles. North Macedonia did not have the appropriate counterintelligence service to protect its Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (SDSM) and other political leaders. The country therefore needs an urgent reform of security-intelligence and defence sectors which are still dominated by the staff employed by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE) and former head of Macedonian secret service Sašo Mijalkov (VMRO-DPMNE). The vetting proces that has started within the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of North Macedonia is the first step to professionalization of the country's security structures. The "racket" blackmail affair involved intelligence agents, politicians, officials from state institutions, journalists, celebrities, professors and the media as well as certain individuals who were (un)knowingly pulled into this international intelligence operation against the Republic of North Macedonia and its leaders with the aim to discredit, criminalise, eliminate and eventually overthrow Zoran Zaev and his government by creating chaos and taking over the power with or without prior election. 

Analysts believe that current events in North Macedonia are the result of a wide, precisely planned, coordinated and skilfully prepared intelligence action performed by external and internal actors with the aim to prevent the country's Euro-Atlantic integration. Fortunately, with their timely reaction and efforts the security-intelligence services of North Macedonia managed to stop the dissolution of the country. According to estimates Gruevski's regime illegally took more than five billion euros out of the country and provided 50 million euros for the operation against the incumbent government.

It is therefore of vital importance to accelerate the Euro-Atlantic integration of North Macedonia and help it to get full NATO membership as well as a date  to start EU accession negotiations in October 2019. Based on experience from Montenegro, attacks on North Macedonia, especially against its Prime Minister Zaev and the key state institutions (especially the judiciary) will continue with even more intensity, using the shock doctrine to create chaos, destabilise the country, prevent its membership in NATO and illegitimately take over power. Macedonian government should therefore spare no effort to achieve agreement between key political actors on passing the law on the Special Prosecutor's Office, thus confirming their determination to fight crime and corruption and establish the rule of law.

Analysts have pointed to the importance of developing b state institutions in North Macedonia, thus preventing individuals acting on behalf of institutions based on "I am the state" slogan, as was the case in recent past.  The EU has also stressed the importance of establishing the rule of law in North Macedonia, so that there would be no more untouchable individuals and legal entities. North Macedonia will therefore have to carry out a police operation similar to the Sabre operation that was carried out in Serbia in 2003 and finally deal with crime and corruption. Any other partial solution will further complicate the situation in North Macedonia, which has turned from a country of despair into one of hope in the past two years. 


Where have disappeared two billion euros of European money?

The EU has fundamentally neglected the Western Balkans while other countries and centres of power have spread their capillary presence through this region. Two billion euros of EU taxpayers' money have disappeared or been inappropriately wasted in Kosovo. The new European Parliament (EP) is expected to launch an investigation and establish the responsibility for the spending of those funds.

The EU should also audit the work of its delegations in the countries of Western Balkan region, while the EU Member States should audit their diplomatic missions in those states. It is worrying that EU delegations in the region have become a sink of crime and a kind of alienated centres of power in those countries. 

Analysts warn that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) should initiate investigations due to reasonable suspicion that the EU taxpayers' money was wasted.


Decriminalisation of Albanians

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has prepared an analysis of the situation in Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia in view of the forthcoming early parliamentary election in Kosovo scheduled for 6 October 2019. The most relevant and interesting sections from the comprehensive analysis entitled “Kosovo – Albania – North Macedonia 2019: In anticipation of the collapse of the Thaçi-Rama conjoined regimes?” are published below.


Kosovo – Albania – North Macedonia 2019:

 In anticipation of the collapse of the Thaçi-Rama conjoined regimes?

The Western Balkans has been the epicentre of instability in recent years. Global geopolitical changes have shaken this restless region which still hasn’t recovered from recent wars that raged through it. 

The region is bly affected by confrontations between the superpowers and the main regional actors. The whole Western Balkans functions according to the "linked vessels" principle, which means that any instability –as well as stability – is very quickly transferred to other parts of the region. 

The situation is most serious in Kosovo and Albania. Both countries are governed by long-standing regimes: in Kosovo led by its President Hashim Thaçi (PDK) and in Albania under its Prime Minister Edi Rama (PS). 

The events in Kosovo and Albania cannot be viewed separately, since they are actually triggered by two closely-related regimes that regularly generate crises. 


Why is Kosovo 2019 early election so important?

Kosovo will hold early parliamentary election on 6 October 2019. It is expected that the incumbent regime will lose the election, which will accelerate the fall of Edi Rama's regime in Albania.

Prime Minister Rama was therefore actively involved in the attempts to persuade the Kosovo opposition political parties to avoid early election and form a new government, but his attempts eventually failed. Rama is aware that Thaçi's election defeat will also bring his regime to an end. 

With the fall of Thaçi regime, Rama's criminal and corruption octopus spreading its tentacles to Kosovo will start to unveil. Both Thaçi and Rama have an almost identical modus operandi based on plundering public resources, intimidating citizens and political opponents, election frauds and vote-buying, deceiving the international community, constantly producing crises and disputes with the opposition in order to create a controlled chaos in which they can maintain their power with the enormous amounts of dirty money. In this situation, crime and corruption have determined not only the way they rule the country but also the way they live. The forthcoming early parliamentary election will unveil Thaçi's network of mercenaries. It will also reveal which of the high international envoys and state officials working for Thaçi's regime will visit Kosovo in September 2019. This will point to those who are a part of the political and diplomatic corruption that keeps Thaçi in power.

Analysts have pointed to very b connections between politics, business (tycoons) and crime, which was evident during the formation of coalitions for the forthcoming early election. Namely, the political-criminal circles prevented the formation of the pre-election coalition of the Self-Determination Movement (Lëvizja Vetëvendosje  – LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Within LDK those political-criminal circles are symbolised by Lutfi Haziri and Agim Veliu who cooperate tightly with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and its leader Hashim Thaçi. Therefore the votes given to LDK at the forthcoming election will actually be votes for PDK and Thaçi. Unfortunately, Germany has also interfered in the situation in Kosovo through its Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The aim of all those activities is to prevent the Self-Determination Movement (LVV) from taking over the government and to eliminate Albin Kurti as the convincing favourite for the new Prime Minister position.

Analysts have noted that Kosovo's political parties perceive elections as a chance to gain power for undisturbed plundering of public resources rather than as an opportunity to act responsibly for the interests and welfare of their country and its citizens. Kosovo's foreign policy has experienced a complete fiasco, not being able to provide the visa-free regime to its citizens nor participation in Interpol to its police forces. In the meanwhile, more than ten states have withdrawn their international recognition of Kosovo, which Serbia presents as its great success.
 

Imposition of customs tariffs on imports from Serbia and BiH and the beginning of Serbian opposition protests – just a coincidence?

The fact is that crime and corruption have no borders. This is especially evident in the Western Balkans, where crises and even armed clashes have been constantly produced for the past 30 years. 

Kosovo is led by military and political-criminal structures, which maintain their power by producing crises and through crime and corruption. They have even involved some high officials from other states and some top European Union (EU) officials.

Analysts believe that those political-criminal structures and regimes do not want to build b state institutions as this would not be in their interest. With b institutions there would be much less manoeuvring space for political-criminal structures.

On 21 November 2018 the Kosovo Government illegally imposed 100% customs tariffs on imports from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Serbia, which represented a blatant violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). The EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina had been at a standstill for a few months by then. Thaçi's regime justified the severe violation of the CEFTA Agreement with the demand for Serbia to recognise Kosovo's independence, while in fact it used it as a cover-up for other intentions. On the other hand, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue still hasn't led to signing a legally binding deal. The question is whether it is only a coincidence that the Kosovo Government imposed customs tariffs on imports from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia on 21 November 2018 while on 30 November 2018 the Serbian opposition launched their first protests. Why was the public not informed of the meetings held between Thaçi's regime and the Serbian opposition representatives?

Analysts believe that it is not a coincidence that the imposition of import tariffs for Serbia and BiH and the beginning of Serbian opposition protests both took place in November last year. Why was the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue discontinued if the two parties had committed to conclude the dialogue by signing a legally binding agreement? Are the meetings of Kosovo and Albanian politicians with the Serbian opposition in any connection with the attempts to weaken the power of Serbian President  Aleksandar Vučić (SNS) and eventually to overthrow him? Why did Thaçi's regime sacrifice the visa-free regime for Kosovo citizens? Probably the most interesting question is whether Thaçi's regime is involved in financing the opposition protests in Serbia. The Serb List will be under greatest fire during the election campaign, since it is the absolute favourite among Serbian voters and enjoys the support of Serbian President Vučić. Anyhow, the election campaign in Kosovo will be marked by tensions and warmongering rhetoric. 

Past experiences in the Balkans have shown that political-criminal structures permanently produce crises not only in their own states but also in other, especially the neighbouring countries, in order to realise certain interests or achieve certain influence. 

The question is who benefits from creating further crises in the region, bearing in mind that the issue of North Macedonia has been resolved and the country has now an open door to join NATO, so it is now the turn to resolve the Kosovo issue and then to stabilise and resolve the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 

Attacks on North Macedonia resemble attacks on Montenegro before it gained NATO membership 

The Republic of North Macedonia signed the accession protocol with NATO on 6 February 2019. The protocol is now being ratified by NATO member states. So far 19 states have ratified it. North Macedonia's full membership is expected to be confirmed at NATO summit in London in December this year. 

However, North Macedonia will continue to be under attacks and attempts to discredit its leaders and institutions. Experience has shown that Montenegro underwent similar attacks until it became full member of NATO. The international intelligence operation known as "racket" was skilfully designed outside North Macedonia with carefully selected actors and their roles. North Macedonia did not have the appropriate counterintelligence service to protect its Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (SDSM) and other political leaders. The country therefore needs an urgent reform of security-intelligence and defence sectors which are still dominated by the staff employed by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE) and former head of Macedonian secret service Sašo Mijalkov (VMRO-DPMNE). The vetting proces that has started within the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of North Macedonia is the first step to professionalization of the country's security structures. The "racket" blackmail affair involved intelligence agents, politicians, officials from state institutions, journalists, celebrities, professors and the media as well as certain individuals who were (un)knowingly pulled into this international intelligence operation against the Republic of North Macedonia and its leaders with the aim to discredit, criminalise, eliminate and eventually overthrow Zoran Zaev and his government by creating chaos and taking over the power with or without prior election. 

Analysts believe that current events in North Macedonia are the result of a wide, precisely planned, coordinated and skilfully prepared intelligence action performed by external and internal actors with the aim to prevent the country's Euro-Atlantic integration. Fortunately, with their timely reaction and efforts the security-intelligence services of North Macedonia managed to stop the dissolution of the country. According to estimates Gruevski's regime illegally took more than five billion euros out of the country and provided 50 million euros for the operation against the incumbent government.

It is therefore of vital importance to accelerate the Euro-Atlantic integration of North Macedonia and help it to get full NATO membership as well as a date  to start EU accession negotiations in October 2019. Based on experience from Montenegro, attacks on North Macedonia, especially against its Prime Minister Zaev and the key state institutions (especially the judiciary) will continue with even more intensity, using the shock doctrine to create chaos, destabilise the country, prevent its membership in NATO and illegitimately take over power. Macedonian government should therefore spare no effort to achieve agreement between key political actors on passing the law on the Special Prosecutor's Office, thus confirming their determination to fight crime and corruption and establish the rule of law.

Analysts have pointed to the importance of developing b state institutions in North Macedonia, thus preventing individuals acting on behalf of institutions based on "I am the state" slogan, as was the case in recent past.  The EU has also stressed the importance of establishing the rule of law in North Macedonia, so that there would be no more untouchable individuals and legal entities. North Macedonia will therefore have to carry out a police operation similar to the Sabre operation that was carried out in Serbia in 2003 and finally deal with crime and corruption. Any other partial solution will further complicate the situation in North Macedonia, which has turned from a country of despair into one of hope in the past two years. 


Where have disappeared two billion euros of European money?

The EU has fundamentally neglected the Western Balkans while other countries and centres of power have spread their capillary presence through this region. Two billion euros of EU taxpayers' money have disappeared or been inappropriately wasted in Kosovo. The new European Parliament (EP) is expected to launch an investigation and establish the responsibility for the spending of those funds.

The EU should also audit the work of its delegations in the countries of Western Balkan region, while the EU Member States should audit their diplomatic missions in those states. It is worrying that EU delegations in the region have become a sink of crime and a kind of alienated centres of power in those countries. 

Analysts warn that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) should initiate investigations due to reasonable suspicion that the EU taxpayers' money was wasted.


Decriminalisation of Albanians

Albania's Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama came to power in 2013 with the help of "b-handed men – from the underground" including a few regional crime bosses who provided "muscles and money" for elections. Many of them were put on the Socialist Party (PS) electoral lists and became Members of the Albanian Parliament. Rama is the politician with the longest political career in Albania and has performed various functions for 20 years: two years as Minister (1998-2000), eleven years as Mayor of  Tirana (2000-2011) and seven years as Prime Minister (2013-2019). Interestingly, the political career of the incumbent Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi has lasted almost the same as that of Edi Rama.

Between 2014 and 2017 Albania became the main illegal producer of cannabis and the country with highest rates of human trafficking in Europe, which was confirmed by the EU, Europol [1], the US State Department [2] and the United Nations [3] . All this time the opposition accused the socialist government, especially the then Minister of the Interior Saimir Tahiri (PS) of direct involvement in drug trade. Publication of  wiretaps on 30 January 2019 revealed that dozens of socialist MPs, socialist mayors and other high officials were linked with organised crime through vote-buying, voter intimidation, document forging and other criminal activities before and during the 2017 general elections. There is clear evidence of collusion at high level between the socialist government and bosses of drug/human trafficking gangs, which enabled the thriving of drug production and trade in Albania.

The illegitimate local election held on 30 June 2019 confirmed the allegations of the criminal nature of Rama's regime. It was soon found that the Mayor of Shkodra Valdrin Pjetri, who was elected at that illegitimate election, had been convicted on drug charges in Italy. The Mayor of Vorë Agim Kajmaku had been arrested in Greece for forgery of money. It was found that he used the fake name Jorgo Toto and counterfeited his identity documents. There are also numerous other cases of criminal activities in Albania. The IFIMES International Institute has mentioned some of them in its previous analyses, such as the activities of Albanian power corporation KESh which represents a nest of crime in the energy sector.

Analysts have noted that Albanians are gradually perceived in Europe as a criminal nation. The most credit for that goes to Edi Rama and Hashim Thaçi as well as other Albanian leaders who are involved in criminal activities. The new governments in Kosovo and Albania will therefore have to invest significant efforts to change that perception and image of Albanians and to show them in a different light. 

Although Albania became full member of NATO in 2009, its leaders do not cherish the values that the Alliance rests on. NATO is much more than a military alliance. It signifies a complete system of values that are characteristic of democratic states.

Why are Edi Rama and other Albanian high officials spreading ideas on creating the so called Greater Albania through the unification of Albania and Kosovo when Albania is a full member of the military alliance that protects the territorial integrity of each of its members? Why has the level of crime and corruption in Albania increased enormously since Edi Rama became its Prime Minister? How come NATO has not expressed any reprimand or b reaction to Rama's destructive behaviour? 

Analysts believe that with his inadmissible and destructive behaviour Rama has defeated NATO and its complete value system. The question is who bears the responsibility for that in NATO, bearing in mind that Albania is its full member? 

Edi Rama and Hashim Thaçi are generating the crisis in Kosovo, but that crisis generates further crises in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is therefore of crucial importance that the new US special envoy to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer first stabilises the situation in Albania and Kosovo and deals with the Albanian political leaders, since that is the precondition for achieving any progress in the Balkans.

It is therefore (not) surprising that in their recent statements France, the Netherlands and Denmark opposed EU's enlargement and the opening of accession negotiations with Albania despite the European Commission's recommendation to start the accession process.


What can the US special envoy Matthew Palmer do?

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recently appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer as his Special Representative for the Western Balkans. Palmer's appointment comes at the time of very complicated and tense situation in the Western Balkans, which is largely due to long years of the American absence in the region.

The key problem of past activities of the West in the region is that it built partnerships mostly with political-criminal structures. The US will therefore have to employ its agencies for fighting crime and corruption to deal with the Balkan Mafia, just as it did in Italy after World War II  when it helped to combat the Italian Mafia. At the beginning it will be important to determine those individuals and politicians that act as the disruptive factor. Thus it is expected that some new names from the region will soon be put on the US Administration's blacklist.

Unless crime and corruption are dealt with in the process of decriminalisation of the Balkan region, it will not be possible to carry out any serious political process to ensure economic development, peace and long-term stability. It is therefore of vital importance that those processes are coordinated with the EU, since it provides most of the funds that often end in the hands of crime and corruption.

Analysts believe that unless the US special envoy to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer launches those processes in certain Balkan states and at the same time strengthens and empowers the institutions to combat crime and corruption, no serious results may be expected from his assignment in this region. Dismantling the Thaçi-Rama conjoined regimes would be perhaps the best starting point and serve as a good example for Palmer's work as special envoy in the Balkans.

Ljubljana/Tirana, 9 September 2019 


Footnotes:

[1] Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA), European Union (Europol), 2018.

[2] International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, US State Department, March 2018.

[3] World Drug Report, United Nations Drug Office, 2017, 2018.


    - Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9694   (Research - Kosovo – Albania – North Macedonia 2019: In anticipation of the collapse of the Thaçi-Rama conjoined regimes?)



SEPTEMBER 14,  2019

2019



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  Zarif’s sudden resignation: The beginning of the militarization of the Iranian diplomacy? - Bakhtyar Aljaf


PUBLICATIONS JANUARY 2019

  Zarif’s sudden resignation: The beginning of the militarization of the Iranian diplomacy? - Bakhtyar Aljaf, Director of IFIMES
  From WWI to www. 1919-2019 - Anis Bajrektarević
  Twinning Europe and Asia in Cyberspace - Melda_Kamil_Ariadno and Anis Bajrektarević
 


 


info@orbus.one
www.orbus.one






BALKAN AREA
BALKAN AREA



prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic
prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic

Editor - Geopolitics, History, International Relations (GHIR) Addleton Academic Publishers - New YorK

Senior Advisory board member, geopolitics of energy Canadian energy research institute - ceri, Ottawa/Calgary

Advisory Board Chairman Modern Diplomacy & the md Tomorrow's people platform originator

Head of mission and department head - strategic studies on Asia
Professor and Chairperson Intl. law & global pol. studies



Critical Similarities and Differences in SS of Asia and Europe - Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic



MENA Saga and Lady Gaga - (Same dilemma from the MENA) - Anis H. Bajrektarevic



Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Assos. Prof.[1] Nguyen Linh[2]
HE ONGOING PUBLIC DEBT CRISIS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION: IMPACTS ON AND LESSONS FOR VIETNAM - Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Assos. Prof.[1] Nguyen Linh[2]



Carla BAUMER
Climate Change and Re Insurance: The Human Security Issue SC-SEA Prof. Anis Bajrektarevic & Carla Baumer



 
Igor Dirgantara
(Researcher and Lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Politics, University of Jayabaya)




Peny Sotiropoulou

Is the ‘crisis of secularism’ in Western Europe the result of multiculturalism?




Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella
A Modest “Australian” Proposal to Resolve our Geo-Political Problems

Were the Crusades Justified? A Revisiting - Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella




Alisa Fazleeva
Earned an MA in International Relations from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom in 2013. Her research interests include foreign policy decision-making, realism and constructivism, and social psychology and constructivism.



 
Corinna Metz
She is an independent researcher specialized in International Politics and Peace & Conflict Studies with a regional focus on the Balkans and the Middle East.




Patricia Galves Derolle
Founder of Internacionalista
São Paulo, Brazil
Brazil – New Age





Dimitra Karantzeni
The political character of Social Media: How do Greek Internet users perceive and use social networks?

 


Michael Akerib
Vice-Rector
SWISS UMEF UNIVERSITY




  
Petra Posega
is a master`s degree student on the University for Criminal justice and Security in Ljubljana. She obtained her bachelor`s degree in Political Science- Defense studies.


Contact: posegap@live.com





Samantha Brletich,
 George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and Intl. Relations She focuses on Russia and Central Asia. Ms. Brletich is an employee of the US Department of Defense.


Interview on HRT-Radio

Prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarević




Dr Filippo ROMEO,



Julia Suryakusuma is the outspoken Indonesian thinker, social-cause fighter and trendsetter. She is the author of Julia’s Jihad.

Contact: jsuryakusuma@gmail.com 




Gerald Knaus




Mads Jacobsen
Mads is an intern at PCRC. Mads Jacobsen is from Denmark and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in 'Development and International Relations' at Aalborg University...




Dzalila Osmanovic-Muharemagic
University of Bihac, Faculty of Education, Department of English Language and Literature - undergraduate
University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Philology, Department of English Language and Literature - graduate study




Rakesh Krishnan Simha

New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst. According to him, he writes on stuff the media distorts, misses or ignores.

Rakesh started his career in 1995 with New Delhi-based Business World magazine, and later worked in a string of positions at other leading media houses such as India Today, Hindustan Times, Business Standard and the Financial Express, where he was the news editor.

He is the Senior Advisory Board member of one of the fastest growing Europe’s foreign policy platforms: Modern Diplomacy.





Damiel Scalea
Daniele Scalea, geopolitical analyst, is Director-general of IsAG (Rome Institute of Geopolitics) and Ph.D. Candidate in Political studies at the Sapienza University, Rome. Author of three books, is frequent contributor and columnist to various Tv-channels and newspapers. E-mail: daniele.scalea@gmail.com




Alessio Stilo,
 
Research Associate at Institute of High Studies in Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences (IsAG), Rome, Italy, and Ph.D. researcher at University of Padova, is IMN Country Representative in Italy.




Tomislav Jakić
Foreign Policy Advisor to former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić





Zlatko Hadžidedić

Graduate of the London School of Economics, prof. Zlatko Hadžidedić is a prominent thinker, prolific author of numerous books, and indispensable political figure of the former Yugoslav socio-political space in 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.




Mr. Nicola Bilotta
Nicola Bilotta has a BA and a MA in History from Università degli Studi di Milano and a MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics. He works as a Global Finance Research Assistant at The Banker (Financial Times) and collaborates as an external researcher at ISAG (Istituto di Alti Studi di Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliari) N_bilotta@lse.ac.uk




Markus Wauran

Date and Place of Birth: April 22, 1943 – Amurang, North Sulawesi, IndonesiaEducation: Bachelor in Public Administration.
Writer was a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia (DPR/MPR-RI) period of 1987-1999, and Chairman of Committee X, cover Science and Technology, Environment and National Development Planning (1988-1997).
Currently as Obsever of Nuclear for peace
.




Sooyoung Hu

Attached to the US-based Berkeley University, Sooyoung Hu is a scholar at its Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies Department. Miss Hu focuses on international relations, international organizations and its instruments.




Senahid LAVIĆ





Nizar Visram
 Nizar Visram is a Ottawa-based free-lance writer from Zanzibar, Tanzania. Recently retired Senior lecturer on Development studies, he extensively publishes in over 50 countries on 4 continents. He can be reached at
nizar1941(at)gmail.com .




Robert Leonard Rope
He studied at the University of Michigan,
He lives in: San Francisco, California: San Francisco, California, USA




Dragan Bursac,
Journalist




Dr. Enis OMEROVIĆ




Max Hess
Max Hess is a senior political risk analyst with the London-based AEK international, specializing in Europe and Eurasia.




Ananya Bordoloi
Ananya Bordoloi is a Malaysia based researcher in the fields of international relations, global governance and human rights. Author has previously worked with Amnesty International in research and data collection capacity, and for a publishing company as a pre-editor.





Robert J. Burrowes
 has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.





Amel Ouchenane is a member of the organization of Security and Strategic studies in Algeria. She is also Research Assistant at the Idrak Research Center for Studies and Consultations.
Ms. Ouchenane was researcher at Algiers University from 2011 to 2018. (Department of International relations and African studies).




Dr. Nafees Ahmad
Ph. D., LL.M, Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University (SAARC)-New Delhi, Nafees Ahmad is an Indian national who holds a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in International Refugee Law and Human Rights. Author teaches and writes on International Forced Migrations, Climate Change Refugees & Human Displacement Refugee, Policy, Asylum, Durable Solutions and Extradition issues.




Sinta Stepani
International relations specialists based in São Paulo, Brazil.




Gilles-Emmanuel JACQUET
Assistant Professor of the World History at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations. He is also senior anlaysit at the Geneva International Peace Research Institute (GIPRI)




Juan Martin González Cabañas
 Juan Martin González Cabañas
is a senior researcher and analyst at the Dossier Geopolitico






Dr. Andrew Sheng is distinguished fellow of the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the UNEP Advisory Council on Sustainable Finance.