As winter approaches, European countries are increasingly concerned about where their energy should come from. While Hungary, Serbia and Turkey are negotiating to open Russia's gas tap, other countries are instead relying on their neighbours' reserves. Last week, available [...]
In spite of an initial ban by the Serbian government, Saturday 17 September saw thousands walk through Belgrade in the first EuroPride march ever in the Western Balkans. Despite attempts at stirring trouble, the historic parade took place without major incidents. Despite the rain, thousands marched in Belgrade on Saturday. Picture by Miloš Đajić. The announcements [...]
It has been almost 20 years since the EU met in Thessaloniki, Greece, in June 2003 to discuss the integration of the Western Balkans. This included a promise that Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, northern Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia would have a clear perspective towards EU membership. After two decades, only Croatia joined in 2013 - the other countries are still in the waiting room, leading to great frustration.
Pro-European, democratic parties in Eastern Europe are suffering a setback after autocratic incumbents in both Hungary and Serbia won major electoral victories. Parliamentary elections were held in both countries on Sunday 3 April. In addition, presidential and local elections also took place in Serbia. The elections were characterised by an uneven playing field between the rulers Orbán (Hungary) and Vučić (Serbia), and the opposition. In both countries, the opposition was united but failed to achieve any successes.
Last Friday, US President Trump announced a breakthrough between Kosovo and Serbia, with an agreement that strengthens ties between the two countries. Since Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008, the neighbouring countries have had a tense relationship. Serbia refuses to recognise that Kosovo is an independent country, and still sees it as a province of Serbia. For years, attempts have been made - unsuccessfully - to bring the countries closer together. Whether this agreement is really a breakthrough remains to be seen, as its content is not very concrete.
Vucic, who was prime minister before becoming president in 2017, is drawing more and more power to himself in Serbia. In the controversial parliamentary elections, which took place on Sunday 21 July, his right-wing populist party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SPS) triumphed in dubious fashion.
What exactly does FMS do? Where are you active? Who are your partners? Every week we will answer all these questions and more in our new initiative: 'Country of the Week'. Each time, we will highlight one of the countries in which we operate and highlight what we do there through videos, fun facts and stories from our projects! This week: Serbia!
It seems that EU and its neighbours should not quarantine democracy for too long, as the Hungarian parliament passed the coronavirus law on 30 March. A controversial law designed to deal with the corona crisis. This law has no end date for the state of emergency. Prime Minister Orban received a blank check as a result. Based on this law, Orban gains a lot of power. Áll existing laws in Hungary can currently be temporarily set aside or ignored at his discretion. In addition, the Orban government can decide how long the state of emergency should remain in force. As a result, elections and referendums are not possible while the state of emergency continues. The 'Orban law' also poses a risk to journalists as they are accused of spreading 'fake news'. This puts freedom of expression at risk. Serbia and Montenegro also seem to be exploiting the corona crisis to curb media freedom. This poses a major problem for democratic rule of law and freedoms.
After months of weekly street protests, the protest movement in Serbia on Saturday 16 March tried to increase pressure on authoritarian President Vučić by occupying the public broadcaster's building and, unsuccessfully, demanding airtime. Without using excessive force, the building was cleared by police. The protesters dealt a small blow to the president in their fight for media freedom and restoration of democracy and rule of law, but the road to victory is still long. Foundation Max van der Stoel was at the protests in Belgrade and saw a particularly diverse group of citizens defy fear and take on the president.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), is under pressure as the protests against him and his government are continuing. Every Saturday, since the 8th of December 2018, thousands of people are marching peacefully throughout Belgrade to protest against violence in the society and Vučić's repressive regime. The protests are supported by the opposition Alliance for Serbia which was created last September. More and more parties are joining the alliance. The Democratic Party (DS) is one of the founding members of the Alliance and we interviewed DS member and director of our partner Center of Modern Skills (CMV), Miloš Djajić,to tell us more about the background of the protests and possible outcomes.