European Western Balkans

Cvijić for POLITICO: Balkan nations are watching Orban establishing a one-party state

Srđan Cvijić; Photo: BSF 2017/ Aleksandar Anđić

BRUSSELS – After the repressive regime of Slobodan Milosević in the 1990s, a group of opposition, independent journalists and dissidents went to Hungary, where they primarily received protection from the government of Viktor Orban and encouragement to continue working on democratic changes at home – writes Srđan Cvijić, senior political analyst at the Institute for European Open Society Policy for POLITICO.

After it is set up a set of laws by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Orban Government, concerning the permissible implementation of police actions against organizations threatening the regime, including the organization of which Srdjan Cvijić was a member, in his words, the Hungarian civil society which had to be muted, and there was no longer a working environment, they were forced to announce that they would transfer their international actions from Budapest to Berlin.

“Balkan nations aspiring to join the EU are watching Orban establish a one-party state inside its borders with interest,”  highlites Cvijić.

He draws attention to the new political discourse that is present in Serbia, Macedonia and Albania, based on Orban’s false democracy, rhetoric and tactics. The leaders of this region are trying to take this model with the intention to fight against enemies that do not exist, as Orban does, explains Cvijić.

If the Balkan leaders want to follow Orban’s model, the path is clear – he writes for Politico: media and courts under party control, the adoption of Russian-style laws that represent an independent NGO as a dangerous activity and the use of non-existent enemies as justification for everything.

As a worrying circumstance, Cvijić also cites the problem of the rule of law and the structural problems of the regions, inherited from the communist past.

“The region’s development is on a knife-edge, with some signs that we may be sliding in the wrong direction. Freedom House’s 2018 Freedom in the World report lists all countries in the western Balkans as free or partially free, but Serbia and Montenegro are dropping down the rankings,” emphasizes Cvijić for Politico.

For all this, it is important to adopt regulations of the European Commission which would stop the flow of funds from the budget to the countries in which the rule of law is problematic.

Getting funds from the EU should be conditioned with the achieved progress in the field of rights, and should be kept in mind that European democratic development is not irreversible. By setting up a fund that will help civil society in promoting European values in countries in which it is threatened, it is possible to fix things.

“If the EU is unable to reverse a one-party takeover in countries that have already joined, its aspirations for enlargement will be endangered — and the bloc will be on course to becoming a collection of democracies and autocracies held together only by the promise of free trade,” – concludes Cvijić for Politico.

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