For educated young Azerbaijanis the recent boom created many opportunities. Born in a communist empire that has since ceased to exist, having come of age during a tumultuous transition, they are now able to take advantage of new possibilities to study abroad and to reap the rewards – jobs at international organisations, multinational companies or Azerbaijani institutions – after returning home.
In April 2007 a gruesome triple murder took place in the Central Anatolian city of Malatya. The victims, tortured, stabbed and strangled, were two Turks and one German. All three were Protestant Christian missionaries who had recently moved to Malatya. Five young men, armed with knives and covered in blood, were found at the scene of the crime only moments after it happened.
During the last twelve months the EU has demanded more from Kosovo than from any other Western Balkan country. Kosovo has met most of these additional demands. There is no good reason as why it should still be kept out in the cold.
The widespread sense among observers that the Turkish EU accession process might be headed for imminent failure has been present from its very outset. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, however, the risk of a "train crash" in the accession talks is minimal. The reason for this is reassuringly self-evident: it is neither in Turkey's interest, nor the EU's, to derail the accession train.
In 2004 a paperback appeared in German with the title Turkey and Europe – the positions. The book described the German debate on Turkish accession to the European Union. In the introduction, Claus Leggewie, the book's editor, outlined three big issues at the centre of this debate: the state of Turkish democracy; the relative backwardness of the Turkish economy; and geopolitics, including the question whether the EU would want to share a border with Iraq.
The Rose Revolution of 2003 led to a power vacuum that was filled by a new elite of "Jacobins" who were committed to neoliberal economic reforms. These reforms had a number of negative consequences, including increased inequality, corruption, and social unrest.
Kakha Bendukidze played a crucial role in shaping Georgia's economic landscape during the post-Soviet era. As Minister of Economy of Georgia from 2004 to 2008, he implemented sweeping reforms that aimed to dismantle bureaucratic barriers and foster entrepreneurship.
Atlas Shrugged, a 1957 novel by the libertarian thinker Ayn Rand, is an ode to the free market, the minimalist state and the sovereignty of the individual. It is also a useful text to read if one wishes to understand the worldview of Georgia‟s most influential policy makers.
In February 2008 Kosovo declared independence. France was the first EU member state to recognize the new state, followed by Germany, Great Britain, and all but five other EU member states (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain). All this would not be easy, people acknowledged. It would require institutions and reforms, just as elsewhere in the Balkans – but there would now at least be a perspective for Kosovars to rejoin the European mainstream.
Analysis: Bosnian Visa Breakthrough. Detailed Scorecard of Bosnia and Herzegovina's results in meeting the EU Schengen White List Conditions
In May 2009, Bosnia and Herzegovina found itself last among five Western Balkan countries when it came to meeting a long list of difficult conditions necessary to qualify for visa-free travel to the EU. When the European Commission then decided in July 2009 not to offer visa-free travel to Bosnia, but to three other countries that met the benchmarks (Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), there were voices claiming that Bosnia was being discriminated against because of its Muslim population.
No single topic poisons relations between Turks and Armenians more than the 1915 destruction of the Armenian communities of Anatolia, and the question of whether it constituted genocide. In recent times the first signs of a rapprochement have appeared, with the political leadership on both sides making conciliatory gestures. For a normalisation of relations to take place, however, both sides will have to overcome some deeply entrenched prejudices.
When it comes to the EU, one of the greatest wishes of citizens of the Western Balkans is visa-free travel. Currently, citizens of all Western Balkan states have to obtain a short-stay visa from one of the embassies or consulates of the 24 Schengen zone countries in order to enter the Schengen area, which covers most of the EU. Applying for a visa is time-consuming, costly and stressful, with the very real risk of rejection.
2007 was a dramatic year for Turkish politics and society, even by the standards of a country used to political drama. However, few people would have expected 2008 to be even more volatile, and potentially catastrophic, for Turkish democracy. Today the headscarf has again become a potent symbol of the struggle between the conservative AKP government, reelected in July 2007 with overwhelming public support, and its Kemalist opponents.
In this paper, we examine the history of Austrian attitudes towards Turkey's EU candidacy. Looking back over opinion polls of the past decade reveals a surprising finding: until 2002, there was very little difference between Austrian views towards Turkey and any other EU candidate. The current public mood does not have its roots in the distant past. Rather, it is a reflection of the recent behaviour of the Austrian political elite, and the direction in which they have chosen to take the public debate.
Twelve years after its vicious war, Bosnia and Herzegovina has changed tremendously. It has seen the large-scale return of displaced persons, the return of property and comprehensive demilitarisation. Freedom of movement has been restored. Interethnic violence has disappeared. New institutions at the state level govern an increasingly integrated single market. The changes that have taken place in Bosnia over the past twelve years have been no less profound than those which transformed Western Europe in the 12 years after World War II.
Discussion paper: The worst in class - How the international protectorate hurts the European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Serbian deputy prime minister initialed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU in Brussels yesterday. Earlier, the EU stated Bosnia and Herzegovina couldn't do the same due to failure to conform to police reform "European standards". This places Bosnia at the end of the EU membership queue, behind Croatia, Turkey, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia.
Turkey's political discourse seems disconnected from its social dynamics. A minority, including 'authoritarian feminists', fears the threat to secular traditions and wishes for military intervention. Overlooking societal changes and recent achievements, they focus on their fear of political Islam. The key lesson is that progress on gender equality in Turkey crucially depends on its democracy's quality and inclusiveness.
Discussion paper: Legal Dynamite - How a Bosnian court may bring closer the end of the Bosnian protectorate
On 27 February, 55 government and agency diplomats met in Brussels as the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) for Bosnia and Herzegovina. They extended the international protectorate of the country to June 2008, also prolonging the powers of the High Representative/EU's Special Envoy. They chose not to renew the mandate of the current High Representative, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, criticized by PIC members for not being aggressive enough.
On Mount Olympus - How the UN violated human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and why nothing has been done to correct it
UNMIBH ran the International Police Task Force (IPTF) in Bosnia from 1996 to 2002. Its goal was to vet Bosnian police officers and remove inappropriate personnel. The UN assessed 18,000 officers, finding 793 unfit for police duties. These individuals were permanently banned from serving as police without being given a chance to respond or knowing the reasons. Among the 793 cases, at least 150 remained unresolved, leading to instances of injustice.
This is a story about the economic decline and social crisis of a formerly proud textile town in a country well-placed on the edge of the largest market for clothes and textiles in the world (the EU), but unable to take advantage of it. It is also a story about the costs of non-Europe in the Balkans. The town is Leskovac; the country is Serbia; and the key policy question is how it was possible that all of Serbia's neighbours were winners in the global restructuring of the textile and clothing industry (TCI), while Serbia was a looser.