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Abstract

The article explores the development of energy and transport networks in the Cold War Balkans by bringing three case studies of cross-border connectivity into focus: the Yougelexport project, the Djerdap hydropower station and the Circular Highway. In this endeavour networks are not treated as neutral physical infrastructures, but as social phenomena with political, cultural and economic impact. Hence, the development of cross-border and cross-bloc connectivity projects between the countries of the region is connected with the course of their bilateral relations and the broader political context of the Cold War. Against this background, the article discusses the national political objectives related to infrastructure building and the role of transnational technocratic cooperation in cross-border connectivity projects in the Cold War Balkans.

In: Southeastern Europe
In: Southeastern Europe
Author:

Abstract

This article evaluates the role that the economic conditionality of the European Union (EU) toward the six Western Balkan countries may play in the transformation of these countries as a part of their EU accession process. The article is a case study of a temporary policy shift that occurred in 2014 in relation to conditions that Bosnia and Herzegovina must fulfill to qualify for opening negotiations on EU membership. It also aims to address what this shift has achieved for the Europeanization of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its progress towards EU accession. The shift, implemented via an economic plan called the Reform Agenda, was an attempt at Europeanization of the country’s economic policies that temporarily put aside the constitutional reform demands that had previously dominated the Europeanization discourse. After the first five years of the Reform Agenda, moderate gains primarily in the domain of economic development and fiscal stability were made; however, political fragmentation and nationalistic and secessionist ideas have prevented the reforms from making a stronger impact. Additionally, the lack of a defined desired outcome in terms of measurable economic reforms and the inadequate planning by the EU were not conducive to a more transformative impact.

In: Southeastern Europe
In: Southeastern Europe
In: Southeastern Europe
Author:

Abstract

From 2006 to 2016, North Macedonia experienced a period of democratic backsliding and illiberalism. Following the elections of 2016 and the rise of the opposition Social Democrats to power, these tendencies seem to have reversed, and the country seems headed towards a liberal democratic path. The expectation that illiberalism is resilient and difficult to eradicate has been proven wrong. Various sources have been identified in the literature as the drivers of the fall of illiberal regimes around the world. But what is the role of the critical juncture in generating change? The article defines the critical juncture as a path that ended the democratic backsliding and illiberalism in North Macedonia, while also considering the compromises made and thus the reversibility of the processes. The study nuances the debates about the emergence, resilience, and fall of illiberal regimes, and highlights outcomes seen in North Macedonia as a result of the push against illiberalism.

In: Southeastern Europe