UARU
Balkans On The Brink
4 May, 2016
942

What You Need To Know:

✓ “What’s happened in Macedonia is a political crisis, which has got nothing to do with the migrants whatsoever;”

✓  “The key difference with Macedonia and all the Balkan countries is that they have this promise, this European perspective and Ukraine doesn’t have that and none of the former Soviet countries have that;”

✓ The Serbian elections called early by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, were seen as a partial victory for the controversial PM, on a project of reform aimed bringing the country towards the European Union.

The Economist's Balkans correspondent, Tim Judah was in Kyiv recently promoting his new book, ‘In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine.’ Hromadske sat down with him to discuss the book as well as the recent Macedonian protests and the Serbian elections. 

“What’s happened in Macedonia is a political crisis, which has got nothing to do with the migrants whatsoever,” he says on the recent protests in Skopje, which were sparked by the President’s annulment of investigations into alleged crimes that came out of wire-taps. In terms of European integration, “the key difference with Macedonia and all the Balkan countries is that they have this promise, this European perspective and Ukraine doesn’t have that and none of the former Soviet countries have that.” 

Macedonia is under rising international pressure following massive anti-government protests engulfed the country in April, 2016. Protesters dubbed their movement as 'Colorful Revolution' and it is considered one of the biggest crises in Macedonian history.  Local opposition claims that the government under the former prime-minister Gruevski was responsible for the illegal wiretapping of over 20,000 people and covering for corruption deals. Gruevski, who resigned in early 2016 following EU pressure, claims that unnamed foreign intelligence services “fabricated” the wiretapping tapes. The crisis comes along increased authoritarian tendencies among Macedonian political elites with the country being named among the world’s biggest sliders in media freedoms according to the Freedom’s House Press Index 2016. Neighboring Serbia also got on the same list with both countries sometimes accused by political observers of practicing ‘soft-Putinism’ and employing rising influence of Russian over the region, a promising energy transit hub between the East and Europe. 

The Serbian elections called early by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, were seen as a partial victory for the controversial PM, who campaigned on using the elections to allow the government to focus more intently and with less political opposition on a project of reform aiming at cutting state budgets and bringing the country towards the European Union.

Hromadske’s Josh Kovensky spoke to Tim Judah, the Economist's Balkans correspondent on April 26th, 2016 in Kyiv.