Analysis: “8 Challenges for Democracy in the Western Balkans”

“The Western Balkans is an area that could blow up in a very nasty way in the future”, warned political scientist Francis Fukuyama at the 26th Forum 2000 Conference held in Prague in 2022. Taking this warning very seriously, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom together with its partner organizations Forum 2000 and the Association for International Affairs decided to dig deeper into the situation and challenges faced by democracy in that region.

Despite three decades of international support and an intensified, structured EU accession process in the last 20 years, the Western Balkan countries are not showing significant improvements in terms of democracy. What are the key forces that jeopardize the development of solid democracies in the region?

Seeking to answer this question, this analysis starts by focusing on domestic issues, through regional disputes and finishes with the geopolitical aspects and foreign influence that affects the Western Balkans democracy. The 8 Challenges for Democracy in the Western Balkans present a partial view on the most urgent issues for the region and gives some policy recommendations, not only for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, but also for the EU policy makers and the international democratic community who have a stake in the region’s democratic stability.