Representations of the ‘Balkans’ in the Foreign Policy Discourses of Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Mitjo Vaulasvirta
The build-up of nationalism in Yugoslavia and its successor states was accompanied by a seismic shift in public discourse, as the national political elites mobilised the rhetoric of Othering in order to distinguish their respective nations from ‘the Balkans’, to construct and reinforce a new national identity, and to endorse European integration. This paper investigates how the discourses of Balkanism and Othering functioned in international relations by examining how the Balkans were represented in the foreign policy articulations of Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during and after the Yugoslav conflicts. By analysing speeches delivered at the UN General Assembly between 1993 and 2003, this paper investigates how Southeast European states constructed their identities on the international stage and capitalised on “Balkan” identity for foreign policy objectives.

Elections in Macedonia: Intensification of Nationalist and Authoritarian Tendencies

  • Branimir Staletović
After several failures to schedule early elections in Macedonia, the parties of government and the opposition finally set a date for December 2016. All political actors, in their own way, perceived the elections as an opportunity to overcome the severe political crisis that had begun at the beginning of 2015, when the government was accused of wiretapping over 20,000 citizens, among them journalists, opposition politicians, and state and government officials. Moreover, the government led by national-conservatives VMRO-DPMNE is accused of dismantling democratic institutions throughout the last decade. Leading international institutions, scholars and think-thanks have classified Macedonia within category of “partly-free” regimes, thus indicating a reversal in post-socialist democratisation process

Authoritarian Populism and Hegemony: Constructing ‘the People’ in Macedonia’s illiberal discourse

  • Ljupcho Petkovski
This paper is a theoretically driven case study of the authoritarian populist reign of VMRO-DPMNE and its leader Nikola Gruevski in Macedonia since 2006. At the beginning, I assess the strengths and identify the pitfalls of the dominant approach to studying populism that sees populist politics as democratic illiberalism. Then I argue that this approach should be complemented with a discourse theoretical methodology that renders us more sensitive to the diachronic dimensions of the rise of Gruevski’s populism and its origins. The crucial concept I use to account for the durability of Gruvski’s reign is hegemony, which helps us to understand two important aspects of his populism.

Conclusion: The Politics of Numbers – Censuses in the Post-Yugoslav States

  • Soeren Keil
This conclusion poses a number of questions related to policy issues and the censuses in the post-Yugoslav states. It is argued that censuses are always more than just a technical counting exercise. Census discussions in Western Europe tend to focus on regional funding, infrastructure support and long-term policy planning, and can be as contested and heated as questions over identity, religion and mother tongue in the post-Yugoslav states. However, identity-related questions in an area in which identity is still in flux and in which fundamental demographic changes have taken place recently, prevent any focus on more policy-oriented discussions.

Census, Identity, and the Politics of Numbers: the Case of Macedonia

  • Roska Vrgova
A census is a statistical procedure which can provide detailed information on demographic characteristics including the fluidity (or stability) of identities with which a population identifies in a given period of time. A census also represents a political process which can play an essential role in ethnic politics, especially when power is distributed on the basis of numbers. As such, censuses often have results that are contested, and the case of Macedonia is no exception. This article provides an overview of the census taking processes in the years following Macedonia’s independence in 1991, the dynamics and the challenges of the process itself and implementation of the results, and potential implications for the creation of identities.

Introduction: The Politics of Numbers in the Post-Yugoslav States

  • Soeren Keil,
  • Valery Perry
Since 1991, every country in the former Yugoslavia has either held, or has at-tempted to hold, a census. The most recent efforts occurred in or around 2011, reflecting both the interest of harmonizing with the European Union’s (EU) own 2011 census round, as well as the need for accurate data in a region that has experienced significant population flux in the past generation. Macedonia’s 2011 census was cancelled during the enumeration period due to objections related to the counting procedure, but grounded in politics related to the Macedonian and Albanian populations, and representation provisions in the Ohrid Framework Agreement that ended the violent conflict in the country in 2001. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) collected data for the first time since the war in 2013, but as of this writing (October 2015) the results have not been finalised.

The 2014 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Macedonia: More of the Same

  • Zhidas Daskalovski
In April 2014, Macedonia had both presidential and parliamentary elections. While the presidential elections were, indeed, scheduled for this time, the parliamentary elections were called early. The incumbent president, Gjorge Ivanov who is affiliated with the Internal Macedonian revolutionary organization – Democratic party for Macedonian national unity” (VMRO-DPMNE), became candidate on 1. March 2014; proclaiming that his campaign will be based on three principles: honesty, sincerity and values.

Gender, Labour and Precarity in the South East European Periphery: the Case of Textile Workers in Štip

  • Chiara Bonfiglioli
The paper investigates the living and working conditions of textile workers in the city of Štip, Macedonia. The textile industry was highly developed during socialist times, but underwent a process of decline after the Yugoslav break-up. While it still represents a relevant economic sector for post-socialist Macedonia, the textile industry is highly dependent on outsourced orders from Western Europe. Local workers’ living and labour conditions, therefore, are affected by the global ‘race to the bottom’ for production costs that is typical of the garment industry. On the basis of a series of interviews conducted in Skopje and Štip with workers and factory owners, the article argues that contemporary working conditions in the Macedonian textile industry are characterised by poor labour rights, gender discrimination and widespread precarity.

Rule of Law Through Judicial Reform: A Key to the EU Accession of the Western Balkans

  • Ardit Memeti
This paper focuses on the importance of judiciary reform as a key segment of rule of law enforcement for the EU accession of Western Balkan countries as a process mainly driven by EU assistance. The Western Balkan (WB) countries, namely Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are considered 'potential candidates' for European Union (EU) membership. In the EU accession process of these countries, strengthening the rule of law is considered to be of vital importance. Although the concept of the rule of law is much broader, when it comes to the rule of law requirement, judiciary reform represents the most significant component for reform in the EU accession of Western Balkan countries. Judiciary reform is so crucial to the rule of law reform that it is at times interchangeably used as having the same meaning.