For three decades, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has been active in the countries of the Western Balkans, supporting the states on their way to a united Europe. From its project office in Belgrade, it coordinates its political and civil society work and consulting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia. Together with domestic partners from politics and civil society, the foundation works primarily on the topics of human and civil rights, digital and open society, democracy and the rule of law, as well as on embracing European values and standards in the course of the EU integration process.
He who sows violence
Two acts of bloodshed shock Serbia and bring hundreds of thousands of people to the streets in protest against the pervasive violence. On May 3rd and 4th, a total of 18 people, mostly young, lost their lives in two killing sprees. Serbia is in shock: Such an outbreak of violence has not been seen since the wars of the 1990s; people are grappling with their anger and grief, and the entire country is struggling to cope. For the first time, the regime of President Aleksandar Vučić appears vulnerable. Pro-government mass demonstrations are planned for Friday, while regime critics will take to the streets again on Saturday. Is autocracy in Serbia wavering?
New government in the Federation of BiH with liberals in it
Naša stranka, the liberal party, participates in the new government of the Federation of BiH with two ministers: Nasiha Pozder as Minister of Environment and Tourism, and Amir Hasičević as Minister of Trade. The government was finally approved after protracted government formation talks and despite series of blockades and obstructions by outgoing parties, SDA and DF.
Liberal Serbian Foundation Included in European Think Tank Network
One cannot claim that liberalism is exactly flourishing in Serbia. Nevertheless, successes for liberal politics in Serbian society and beyond can be seen: for example, three representatives of the party “Movement of Free Citizens (PSG)” were elected to the Serbian parliament in the last parliamentary election. Also, due to its clear liberal and pro-European values, the party was accepted as a full member to the European liberal ALDE party in December 2022.
An Election without Voters
Von den 45.095 wahlberechtigten Bürgerinnen und Bürgern – die meisten davon ethnische Serben – in den vier nördlichen Gemeinden des Kosovo machten lediglich 1.556 von ihrem Wahlrecht Gebrauch: die überwiegende Mehrheit der Wählerinnen und Wähler waren ethnische Albaner und nur 13 ethnische Serben. Infolgedessen sind nun alle gewählten Bürgermeister der vier überwiegend serbischen Gemeinden nun ethnische Albaner. Bei den Wahlen wurde mit nur 3,5 % eine der niedrigsten Wahlbeteiligungen überhaupt verzeichnet.
Change in Montenegro: Long-term president voted out of office
The newcomer Jakov Milatović, only 36 years old, beats Milo Djukanović, the "permanent president" of Montenegro who had dominated for decades, with an outstanding result. Six weeks earlier, his victory was still considered almost impossible. Since Djukanović dissolved parliament shortly before the presidential election, the future course of the country will only become clear after the parliamentary election on 11 June and the formation of a new government.
The identity question as a sticking point
About 540,000 Montenegrin citizens are called to vote for one of the seven presidential candidates on 19 March. Incumbent Milo Djukanović wants to do it again, although he has already held this position twice. Even 17 years after the proclamation of independence, the political disputes in the capital Podgorica are marked by the question of identity: Do the country's inhabitants feel they belong to the Montenegrin or Serbian nation? Which language do the inhabitants speak - Serbian or Montenegrin? Does the Serbian or the Montenegrin Orthodox Church exercise spiritual power in Montenegro? These questions determine the political reality of the small country and have already brought down several governments.
Building Capacities on the Local Level
In times of economic turmoil, it is very important that also municipalities play a vital role in the economic development and sustainability. It is the local level that can best make use of a bottom-up approach including as many citizens as possible.