Montenegro under Đukanović has inspired the rise of autocracy in the Balkans. Whilst this small state has seamlessly shifted allegiances between the EU, US, Russia, Turkey and other external influence since independence, it has rather effectively given the façade of democratic stability. More aptly, however, it has evolved into a ‘stabilocracy’ and shows how security in the region is given precedence over the rise of illiberal and authoritarian regimes that simultaneously exert significant influence over the investment and business environment.
Political fluidity in Macedonia, largely tide to the question of the country’s name and Greece vetoing EU and NATO accession until resolution is found, is facilitating the rise of politically exposed private sector interests. Whilst it is still in government, individuals tied to and associated with senior ruling SDSM figures are isolating ways to secure personal financial benefit before there is a change in the status quo.
Opportunities for growth are increasingly being stymied in the Western Balkans because of the growth of informal political influence (ostensibly through the rise of illiberal regimes), and an evolving notion of corruption. No longer is the main concern focused on influencers that ‘buy’ access to privilege; but more so on concerns that ‘legitimately’ elected leaders are presiding over the capture of state institutions and a massive redistribution of wealth.
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov, has spearheaded recent legal reforms aimed at fighting public and private sector corruption. These reforms include the creation of a new anti-corruption unit with the remit to wiretap senior state officials. Although these efforts appear positive in their aims; given the trajectory of Borisov’s own political influence, there are concerns that a new anti-corruption unit with significant powers could be utilised against opposition groups, whilst further placing the private sector and judiciary under his influence.
Liviu Dragnea has started a public campaign of defamation against anti-corruption institutions that have accused him of leading a criminal organisation. To legitimise his position, Dragnea is using autocratic methods, whereas he is the protector of the national interests empowering him to manipulate the judiciary and security systems.
The formation of a 4-party coalition in Northern Cyprus aspires to limit Ankara’s influence over TRNC’s political affairs. Despite having the political will, there are major regional political dynamics that might undermine the autonomy of the 4-party coalition; particularly the reality that Ankara has already demonstrated its capacity to use informal mechanisms to alter political behaviour in Northern Cyprus.
There are concerns that a series of reforms that reduce the independence of the Romanian judiciary will impact how international and non-politically exposed commercial players are able to compete in the market. If these reforms are passed, they have the ability to set the stage for the implementation of a de facto system of crony capitalism; a system that would ultimately serve the interests of the political and economic interests of Liviu Dragnea.
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.
Free Article
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.