Serbia’s overblown and unreformed public sector, almost completely under informal political control, produces a staggering amount of debt, and represents a key instrument of social and political manipulation. While the structure of debt is often complex, its background is relatively simple: clientelism and corruption - too much political influence and too little reform.
Greece is toying with expanding its ties to China, Turkey and Russia whilst its relations with the EU falter. In addition to intelligence of various ‘unofficial’ meetings being held between the leadership of these countries; growing ties are evident in the identity of those taking part in Greece’s ‘golden visa’ scheme.
Serbia’s undisputed leader Aleksandar Vučić, has relocated his power to the position of the republic’s President – a formally weak and largely ceremonial office in a parliamentarian system of government. Vučić has appointed a Prime Minister who holds no political power, allowing him to keep his influence in political decision-making. Monitoring the rise of Vucic has echoes of his southern neighbour in Turkey – is Vucic pulling an Erdogan?
In all probability, Serbia’s President Vučić is set to maintain his political influence by leveraging his ability to manipulate a variety of formal and informal mechanisms of power in the state. All things being equal, Vučić is well on the road to becoming the most powerful figure in the country.
Erdoğan’s ability to manipulate the Turkish system to his favour is building a system governed by loyalty to the President. In fact, ongoing reshuffles will see even more loyalists brought in to secure him; and are important to monitor to understand how they will impact the country’s short to medium term political and investment environment.
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Greece is under pressure to embark on a privatisation programme to help feed financial stability. Despite rhetoric that the country is committed to a privatisation programme, the Greek government is showing signs of hesitation. With investment opportunities to be had, risks still abound for those that do not have the time or patience to navigate negotiations.
Current tensions in Macedonia are contributing to an environment of political uncertainty. Although some are espousing concerns that Macedonia’s plight is contributing to greater regional instability, there are more convincing indications that recent developments are being driven by the former government to delay SJO investigations.
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Nationalism still dominates political discourse in much of the Balkans, and is a major source of political instability. Going hand in hand with illiberal and authoritarian tendencies, nationalism is being used for utilitarian political purposes and appears to be a vehicle for the Kremlin’s low-cost drive to destabilise the EU's projects and interests in the region.
The electoral victory of Vučić in the Serbian presidential elections will directly impact the composition of informal networks surrounding him and his inner-circle. The main determining factor, however, will be the nomination for the new Prime Minister, which will have to balance several domestic and international political factors.
The first visit by a Turkish President to Mozambique has been tainted by the political war between the Gülen movement and the Turkish state.
A sudden schism between Serbia’s President and Prime Minister may turn regular presidential elections into a high-stakes political drama whose outcome will determine the fate of Aleksandar Vučić as the country’s undisputed ruler. It may also carry a signature of Russia’s subtle, but masterful, meddling.
The Port of Constanta is currently under a legal battle that may impact privatisation prospects, and paralyze future investment opportunities. There are indications that a new law is being pushed through to the financial benefit of specific MPs.
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