Serbia

Serbia finally held its parliamentary and local elections on June 21 — they were supposed to take place on April 26 but were postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. After convincingly winning the 2016 legislative and 2017 presidential elections, President Aleksander Vučić’s SNS party scored an even more impressive victory with more than 63 percent of the votes. This was one of Europe’s biggest landslides, with a 53-point difference with the party that came in second, its coalition partner SPS.

With the opposition boycotting the elections, the only other list to make it into parliament is the right-wing Patriotic Alliance.…  Seguir leyendo »

El Bob Dylan de los apologetas del genocidio

Cuando vivía en Sarajevo, en Bosnia y Herzegovina, leí los libros del escritor austriaco Peter Handke, me quedé agradablemente desconcertado por sus obras de teatro y vi las películas que escribía. Me encantó el brillante vacío de su novela El miedo del portero al penalti. Me fascinó la belleza de la obra maestra de Wim Wenders Cielo sobre Berlín, en cuyo guion trabajó él.

A finales de los años ochenta, yo era joven y me obsesionaba la búsqueda de la inteligencia y la modernidad. Handke no solo parecía inteligente y moderno sino que además, como autor, estaba ampliando las fronteras de la literatura.…  Seguir leyendo »

In April 2018, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party won their third parliamentary supermajority, securing 49 percent of the vote and trouncing the fragmented opposition. A year earlier, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won an outright victory in his bid for the presidency, taking 55 percent of the vote and preempting the need for a presidential runoff for the first time in Serbia’s history.

Orban and Vucic have both moved to dismantle institutional checks and balances and centralize power in their own hands; they have also benefited from European Union support and ineffectual domestic opposition. But it is their domination of the media that has underwritten their success.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mediados de agosto de 2018, los presidentes de Serbia y Kosovo lanzaron la idea de afrontar una corrección de fronteras que pudiera aportar una solución beneficiosa para las dos partes. Una idea tan insólita como arriesgada, que ha congregado tanto duras críticas como entusiastas admiradores. Desde entonces, Aleksandar Vučić ha ido alternando la negociación con la retórica y los golpes de efecto políticos, mientras la población serbia muestra en las calles, cada vez con más insistencia, su descontento con el Gobierno y con los niveles de corrupción en el país. ¿Podría un futuro acuerdo con Kosovo convertirse en la clave de la última transformación política del presidente serbio?…  Seguir leyendo »

Kosovo Albanians block roads on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s planned route to the village of Banje on Sept. 9. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

My country, Kosovo, is being asked to make an impossible choice that would cheapen the sacrifice made by U.S. soldiers, undermine the stability of the region and threaten America’s allies. In the face of sustained attack from Serbia meant to undermine our sovereignty, security and prosperity, there are some who would like Kosovo to engage in so-called “peaceful” ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. This is a shortsighted attempt to give in to a bully in the hope that the bullying will stop. We will not do this — we will instead stand up against those who would seek to take advantage of us, while simultaneously working toward a long-lasting and comprehensive peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

Para estados jóvenes sin reconocimiento universal como Kosovo, participar en organizaciones, conferencias o competiciones deportivas internacionales mostrando al mundo sus enseñas nacionales es vital para su consolidación como actores soberanos. Aunque oficialmente el olimpismo pretenda «hacer un mundo mejor y más pacífico educando a los jóvenes con el deporte sin discriminación de ningún tipo en un espíritu de amistad y juego limpio», siempre ha sido la pasarela ideal para exhibir orgullo nacional y patriotismo, con frecuencia incompatibles con la proclamada solidaridad sin fronteras.

Sin llegar al extremo de George Orwell, que veía en el deporte internacional «guerras sin tiros», la obsesión por conquistar medallas y enarbolar banderas lo aproxima mucho al mundo bélico por la obsesiva búsqueda de unidad contra el enemigo hasta la victoria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children ride bicycles next to a wall painted with the European Union flag last month in the southern Serbian town of Presevo. (Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images)

Serbia and Kosovo have been talking about a grand bargain to defuse lingering ethnic conflicts. Critics have been quick to weigh in. Some argue that the risks are simply too substantial for the international community to entertain the idea of “border adjustments,” or territorial exchanges, involving Serb-populated territories in northern Kosovo and Albanian-populated territories in southern Serbia, which is being subtly pushed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovar counterpart, Hashim Thaci.

The crux of the critics’ argument rests on the potential for spillover throughout the Balkans. If Belgrade and Pristina exchange territory, this will show Croats and Serbs in Bosnia that they, too, can find a way to secede and join their ethnic kin in Croatia and Serbia, breaking up Bosnia in the process.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man sits at a roadblock in Vojtesh, Kosovo, on Sept. 9. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are planning to swap territory. They say it will ease ethnic tensions and contribute to stability in the western Balkans. Some commentators and politicians think it is a great idea.

Don’t bet on it. The proposals present enormous risks — not only for the countries themselves but also for the broader region. Indeed, they could set an ominous precedent for leaders who harbor separatist ambitions.

What Kosovo President Hashim Thaci refers to as a “border adjustment” could easily prompt nationalists in this part of Europe to demand similar changes. It could offer destructive inspiration to Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia, where nationalist movements and some of the leaders yearn to have their own ethnically homogeneous countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

1. Una ventana de oportunidad

Veinte años después del final de la guerra, cuarenta años después del comienzo del conflicto, serbios y albaneses kosovares están por fin negociando. Y parece que esta vez las negociaciones van por buena vía y que existen esperanzas fundadas de que las partes lleguen a un acuerdo basado en el reconocimiento serbio de la independencia de Kósovo, acompañado, quizá, por una corrección de fronteras en busca la máxima homogeneidad étnica de los dos estados.

Y no es tan raro como a primera vista parece. Hay, desde luego, conflictos que terminan con la victoria total de una parte y el aplastamiento de la otra, pero es mucho más frecuente que los conflictos concluyan con algún tipo de negociación.…  Seguir leyendo »

Discussions between Serbia and Kosovo about the possibility of agreeing on border adjustments to settle a solution to the current frozen situation will be ephemeral, a short-lived romance. Not because the presidents of both countries could not finally agree on a deal, but because Europeans suspect the return of ‘Balkan ghosts’. The proposal discomforts the European Union and its member states. International leaders and analysts have already demonised this option, condemned their consequences and warned that another tragedy might befall Balkan people.

The weekend of September 8 and 9, Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, made a trip to Kosovo. On Saturday, he visited the Gazivode Lake – located in the majority-Serb northwest region, which is strategic for the supply of water and electricity.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Offensive Plan for the Balkans That the U.S. Should Get Behind

The Balkans remains in strategic limbo. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia 10 years ago, but Serbia has yet to come to terms with its loss — refusing to recognize Kosovo and stirring trouble between the country’s ethnic Serbs and the ethnic Albanian majority. Almost two decades after the NATO bombing campaign to drive Yugoslav forces from Kosovo, some 4,000 NATO troops remain there to keep the peace.

A breakthrough may now be in the making. It is a morally offensive one, but nonetheless the United States and the European Union should get behind it.

President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia and President Hashim Thaci of Kosovo are apparently working on a proposal to engage in a land swap that could bring the simmering conflict to an end.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month, national security adviser John Bolton said the United States “would not stand in the way” of a land swap deal between Serbia and Kosovo. Recent reports suggest the two countries are close to an agreement that would resolve one of Europe’s most challenging political standoffs since the end of the Cold War.

The plan would redraw the Serbia-Kosovo partition to allow a Serbian-speaking territory in Kosovo’s north to join Serbia, while an Albanian-speaking region in Serbia’s south would join Kosovo. The stakes are high: Resolving this impasse probably would pave the way for Kosovo to gain a seat at the United Nations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Solo he visto a Ratko Mladic en la televisión y el ordenador, pero conozco bien su legado en Bosnia oriental. Viví un par de años a principios de esta década en la municipalidad de Foca, en el Alto Valle del río Drina, fronterizo entre Bosnia, Montenegro y Serbia. Mladic nació por allí, en Kalinovik, un pueblucho apartado en las altiplanicies de Treskavica. Es una región de montes, cañones y nieblas, muy aislada, sobre todo en invierno. Más allá de su magnífica naturaleza salvaje, el Valle del Drina es conocido porque durante la guerra de Bosnia (1992-95), cuando casi todas las cámaras miraban al sitiado Sarajevo, en poblaciones como Gorazde, Visegrad, Srebrenica o la propia Foca se llevó a cabo gran parte de la limpieza étnica de bosnios musulmanes y otros crímenes dantescos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mi país, Serbia, se ha convertido sin quererlo en el laboratorio de pruebas de Facebook respecto del comportamiento de los usuarios y la organización independiente sin fines de lucro de periodismo de investigación en la que soy editor en jefe es uno de los desafortunados conejillos de indias.

El mes pasado, me di cuenta de que nuestras historias habían dejado de aparecer en Facebook, contrario a lo habitual. Me sorprendí. Nuestra fuente más grande de tráfico, la que representa más de la mitad de nuestras visitas mensuales a la página, no estaba funcionado.

Pensé que seguramente era una falla del sistema; no era así.…  Seguir leyendo »

My country, Serbia, has become an unwilling laboratory for Facebook’s experiments on user behavior — and the independent, nonprofit investigative journalism organization where I am the editor in chief is one of the unfortunate lab rats.

Last month, I noticed that our stories had stopped appearing on Facebook as usual. I was stunned. Our largest single source of traffic, accounting for more than half of our monthly page views, had been crippled.

Surely, I thought, it was a glitch. It wasn’t.

Facebook had made a small but devastating change. Posts made by “pages” — including those of organizations like mine — had been removed from the regular News Feed, the default screen users see when they log on to the social media site.…  Seguir leyendo »

El acuerdo entre la Unión Europea y Turquía, el cierre hermético de las fronteras de Hungría y Croacia, o el uso de la fuerza contra los refugiados por parte de los cuerpos y fuerzas de seguridad búlgaros, entre muchos otros factores, han convertido a Serbia en la última frontera para miles de personas que tratan de llegar a la Unión Europea. Si bien Grecia continúa siendo el principal país de tránsito y estancamiento de refugiados e inmigrantes, Serbia le sigue los pasos. En estos momentos los datos oficiales confirman que en el país balcánico hay unas 7.740 personas estancadas (OIM), no obstante todas las instituciones y organismos no gubernamentales serbios consultados afirman que en realidad esta cifra supera los 11.000.…  Seguir leyendo »

The trouble in the Balkans today is not Russian meddling, though there is some of that, but a special case of the malaise afflicting Eastern Europe: unchecked executive power, erosion of the rule of law, xenophobia directed at neighbours and migrants and pervasive economic insecurity. The pattern varies from country to country but is palpable from Szczecin on the Baltic to Istanbul on the Bosporus. The countries of the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia – have long tended to follow patterns set by their larger, more powerful neighbours. They are doing it again.

The ability of the European Union (EU) to fix problems in the Balkans is hamstrung when the same troubles persist within its own borders, sometimes in more acute form.…  Seguir leyendo »

For centuries, dark forces of history have found the Balkans a suitable proxy region for unleashing grand plans for global prominence and competition. Now, after two decades of stability and prospects for a prosperous future, Serbia again is returning to an old vocation — seeking regional hegemony. It is doing so by destabilizing the Balkans, expanding its own military and working toward economic dominance of a regional common market that Kosovo finds unacceptable and strongly opposes — all of this with Russia looking over Serbia’s shoulder.

Russia is clearly using Serbia not just to regain a foothold in the Balkans, but also to seek vengeance on NATO, the United States and the West with schemes to restore the regional prominence it lost when the Soviet empire collapsed.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’Histoire a parfois de bien étranges, paradoxaux, soubresauts. La preuve vient encore d’en être faite, ce dimanche 2 avril 2017, en Serbie, où le peuple a élu, dès le premier tour, un ancien extrémiste à la tête de l’Etat: Aleksandar Vucic, lequel, ne craignant pas de cumuler désormais les deux principales fonctions politiques de ce pays, n’est autre, également, que son premier ministre!

Ministre de l’information de Milosevic

Pour ceux qui ne connaîtraient pas cet homme avide de pouvoir, sans partage, où président et premier ministre coïncident en un seul et même individu, je leur conseille de lire ce très peu flatteur portrait qu’en brosse l’encyclopédie Wikipédia. …  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday, Serbians chose a new president — electing Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic with an estimated 54.9 percent majority.

Why would Serbia’s prime minister shift gears to seek the more ceremonial position of president of the Republic of Serbia? The move reflects an ongoing effort to solidify the position of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). It may also be a sign of Serbia’s turn toward an “illiberal” democracy — a political system marked by free and fair elections, but where rule of law, separation of powers, media freedom and other types of liberties are undermined.

In an article published before the 2016 Serbian parliamentary elections, the third in just four years, we wrote that Prime Minister Vucic called for new elections in an attempt to extend his mandate until 2020, but also boost the SNS performance in the concurrent local elections.…  Seguir leyendo »