In this third part of our series on the effects of Climate Change in the Balkans, future political, economic and social scenarios are summarised from the Report, available through the Shadow Governance Intel Report Store. This summary presents the key scnearios likely to emerge in the region as a result of Climate Change and the impact it is already having. This analysis also highlights how this phenomenon can reinforce, or undermine, the current authoritarian trends amongst the ruling elite in the Balkans.
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There are strong indications that the Balkan peninsula is beginning to witness significant environmental, economic and political implications from its exposure to climate change. This analysis is a summary of a more extensive report to be released by Shadow Governance Intel on the impact of climate change on the Balkan countries – now, and future scenarios. In addition to the obvious environmental impact, the biggest concern is whether the fallout from climate change will have a detrimental impact on the political stability of an already-fragile region.
Energy systems play a key role in the global phenomenon of climate change. The lack of modernisation and renewal of these system not only aggravate the effects of climate change, but it also has a direct impact on the population, which is exposed to higher levels of pollution. Governments in the Balkans have arguably neglected to make necessary legal changes to protect the environment, a factor that is ostensibly aggravating the exposure of this region to this global phenomenon.
The tourist sector is a key pillar of Turkey’s economy, as it has contributed approximately 5% of the country’s GDP. Although international investors dominate the most lucrative parts of this sector, they remain vulnerable to the ongoing political decision-making of the ruling elite in Ankara. As a result, Turkey’s tourist sector has felt an impact from decisions such as Turkey’s military intervention in Syria, and the negative diplomatic consequences such actions have created.
The ongoing Turkish military operation in Afrin is elevating nationalist feelings in Turkey, spurred by its fight against Kurdish armed groups. Behind this rhetoric, President Erdoğan is further legitimising legal reforms; arguably reinforcing his ability to exert influence - and ostensibly control - the country' defence industry. As his fingerprint is established over the defence sector, this industry joins the many others that are being utilised to distribute resources to loyalists.
2018 may become one of the most difficult years for Serbia's autocratic ruler, Aleksandar Vučić. In the sixth season of his self-created political monodrama, Vučić will have to navigate two evils: the de-facto recognition of Kosovo and further distancing itself from Russia, which will inevitably provoke a furious - and potentially dangerous - response from the clero-nationalist opposition and possibly Russia itself.
International investment in the TRNC tourist sector is impacted by the fact that the TRNC remains solely recognised as an independent territory by Turkey. In addition to this political factor, scarce energy and water resources increase the costs associated with investing in tourism. This predicament, however, has interestingly facilitated the emergence of informal investment opportunities for smaller entrepreneurs.
A series of anti-terrorist laws proposed by Romania’s President Iohannis appear to be empowering the already controversial and powerful SRI, in part by making it even less accountable to the judiciary. While terrorism has been a national security concern since the 1990s, these reforms are officially being driven by concerns about ISIS and an emerging refugee phenomena.
There are indications that Turkey’s AKP is utilising the private security sector to reinforce their influence over state security institutions. The desire to exert influence throughout Turkey’s security apparatus is ostensibly driven by the emerging paranoia that the AKP is being faced with internal challengers. Manipulating private security to monitor and/or control state security structures will erode democratic accountability.
Several international factors could plausibly directly impact the security and political stability of Emerging Europe in 2018. International interference of new state actors, and the possibility of a “return effect” of ISIS militants to the Balkans, can further destabilise a region already seen to have the seeds of instability.
2018 will see Russia and China further consolidate their presence and influence in the government offices and markets of Emerging Europe. Beijing and Moscow have marked clear goals for the next year – filling the void left by a retreating EU. As a result, we will continue to see the erosion of democratic institutions and accountability, and a further rise in quasi-autocratic leadership not afraid to use informal tools of influence to consolidate their power.
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Authoritarianism, corruption, human rights violations, and political repression are elements that characterise political trends in Emerging Europe over the next year. Indeed, countries in the region will continue to move away from democratic reforms, while their ruling elite continue to secure their political power by leveraging informal mechanisms of influence.