15 Jun 17 WEEKLY ROUNDUP JUNE 10 – 16

Unexpected Twists and Decaying Gems

As some governments look on the brink of collapse and others pull back from the same edge, we bring you a series of articles on some unexpected twists and turns, meddling spies and forgotten gems. 

Milos Damnjanovic
Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu (left) with PSD leader Liviu Dragnea. Photo: Octav Ganea/AP

Family Feud

The Balkans is anything but immune to the bizarre, and Romania is no exception. This week saw the ruling Social Democratic Party, PSD, trying to topple the Romanian government, which would not be strange were it not for the fact that Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and most ministers were also from the PSD.

Grindeanu and his ministers have come under stiff pressure from PSD party leader Liviu Dragnea to resign over the past week, which they have resisted. The PSD has now said it is withdrawing its support for the government. But as our analysis shows, this crisis has less to do with the government’s performance and more to do with an attempt to reassert control over the PSD.

Read more: Romania’s Ruling Party Pushes Own Govt to Quit (June 14, 2017)

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic during the government session. Photo: Anadolu Agency/Stipe Majic

Unexpected Twist

As Romania’s government looks on the brink of collapse, Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has pulled off an unexpected and remarkable survival act. Last week, his government looked all but certain to fall, following the expulsion of junior partner MOST from the HDZ-led government.

But in an unexpected twist, Plenkovic has managed to co-opt the small, centrist Croatian People’s Party, HNS, which entered Parliament as part of a pre-election coalition with the opposition SDP. (What is left of the HNS, that is, as the party seems to have imploded over the decision to join the HDZ government.) We analyse what this development means for Croatia and the prospects for anchoring Croatian politics more firmly in the political centre.

Read more: HDZ Embraces Opponents to Remain In Croatia Govt (June 14, 2017)

Supporters take a photo with PM candidate Ramush Haradinaj (centre) in Pristina on Monday. Photo: Visar Kryeziu

(Un)Chartered Waters

With no clear winner in the June 11 parliamentary elections, Kosovo finds itself in an uncertain position. President Hashim Thaci is likely to give the block of parties which grew out of the Kosovo Liberation Army, gathered around his own PDK, the first chance to form the government, given that they won the most votes in the election.

Yet Kosovo could find itself in very difficult waters if this block is unable to cobble together a majority, much like after the previous parliamentary elections. Institutionally, Thaci has the ability to block the formation of a government that does not include his own PDK. Yet should he choose to go down this route, the consequences could be grave. We explain in more detail.

Read more: Kosovo Faces Dilemma If Ex-Warriors Cannot Form Govt (June 13, 2017)

Macedonian President George Ivanov with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Photo: kremlin.ru

Russian Meddling

While the dust may be settling on Macedonia’s prolonged domestic crisis as the new SDSM-led government settles in, a political and diplomatic autopsy on the on the final stages of the crisis, when supporters of the formerly ruling VMRO-DPMNE stormed Parliament and physically attacked SDSM leaders and MPs, is in full swing and generating waves.

A regional media investigation into the meddling of Russian diplomats and intelligence agents in the Macedonian crisis has sparked heated debate across the region, with neighbouring countries implicated as well. We look at the latest controversies and revelations.

Read more: Russian Meddling in Balkans ‘a Matter of Supply and Demand’ (June 12, 2017)

Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic told Tanjug news agency on May 3, that EPS will invest 250 million euros in Kolubara to fund the maintenance of equipment and the opening of three new mines. Photo: Beta 

Economic Slump

Serbia’s projected growth of 3 per cent of GDP in 2017 appears to be in jeopardy after the publication of economic data for the first quarter of the year. A contraction in electricity generation of 14.5 per cent seems to be one of the main factors behind a rather poor 1 per cent of GDP economic growth recorded in Q1.

Government officials have been quick to blame a supposedly uncharacteristically cold spell during winter months for the slump in electricity generation. But independent observers argue that the real reason behind this slump is mismanagement and under-investment at the state electricity corporation, EPS, and coal mining company Kolubara, amid continuing political involvement in the management of this, and other, state-owned companies. We dig deeper.

Read more: Drop in Electricity Production May Stifle Serbia's Economic Growth (June 12, 2017)

A map of the Szekely Land. Photo:Sie/Wikimedia.

Fomenting Trouble

Amid more burning ethnic problems in the region, growing friction between Hungary and Romania over the position of the Hungarian minority in Romania and, indeed, extreme nationalist Hungarian claims over Romania’s Transylvania region, often get overlooked.

This week, we look at the growing friction between Budapest and Bucharest. Hungarian officials are striking an increasingly aggressive line over the rights of Hungarians in Romania, while nationalist Hungarian politicians are looking to stir tensions on the ground. For the time being this is having a limited impact, with Bucharest doing its best to ignore provocative actions. However, relations on the ground and on a bilateral level could easily deteriorate.

Read more: Romania ‘Must Confront Hungarian Nationalist Demands’ (June 12, 2017)


A Decaying Gem

The many impressive monuments built after the Second World War across the former Yugoslavia to the Partisans who liberated the country have caught the attention of tourists, foreign and local architects, as well as a variety of international scholars and Yugo-enthusiasts.

Yet at the local level, they often lie in deep neglect, even ruin. This is the case with Mostar’s iconic Partisan Cemetery, one of the most monumental Partisan memorial complexes. Most of Mostar’s residents, as well as local and national authorities, seem to willingly ignore it. Only a small number of local enthusiasts appear concerned about its current state and future. Along with a stunning photo gallery, we look at the history, symbolism and present state of this monument.

Read more: Partisans’ Necropolis in Bosnia’s Mostar Left to Rot (June 15, 2017)

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus