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Rule of law, democracy and human rights in the Western Balkans

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Western Balkans

Grade: B+
Unit 4/5
Resources 4/5
Result 7/10
Total 15/20
Scoreboard 2010/11: B (13/20)

Croatia’s success and Serbia and Montenegro’s efforts to meet European conditions demonstrate the strength of EU policy. Yet the rest of the region has made little progress.

Democracy, human rights and good governance are at the heart of EU policy in the Western Balkans. Accession conditionality is the main tool available to Brussels. Member States are acting in unity and have entrusted the European Commission with a central role in benchmarking and monitoring. The only exception is Macedonia, where Greece imposed a unilateral veto in the European Council on the launch of accession negotiations, despite the positive opinion of the Commission. notice for three consecutive years.

Having signed an accession treaty, Croatia has fulfilled the political criteria for membership. The treaty does not provide for a cooperation and verification mechanism, as in the case of Bulgaria and Romania, reflecting the progress made in the fight against corruption, notably the trial against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. Serbia’s arrest and extradition to the ICTY of Ratko Mladić (the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army) and Goran Hadžić (the former leader of the Croatian Serbs) demonstrated its determination to fight against war crimes and obtain candidate status. The December EU summit decided that Montenegro could begin accession negotiations in June 2012 if the European Commission judges its efforts to fight organized crime and corruption positively. =

However, Macedonia and Albania have made little progress. The standoff between Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the socialist opposition continued, with tensions escalating over May’s local elections, which were marred by irregularities. The European Commission did not recommend candidate status, citing gaps in the electoral code and a lack of reform. In Macedonia, the government of Nikola Gruevski was re-elected in June. A coalition with the Albanian DUI party was reconfirmed, but the European Commission’s regular report found little progress. There are concerns about freedom of expression: a major television channel and several daily newspapers closed in 2011. Gruevski’s attack on the commission over the findings of its report was unprecedented.



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