Dear Reader, welcome to the Contemporary Southeastern Europe! This peer-reviewed journal is published as an open-access academic journal, by the Centre for Southeast European Studies. We are firmly committed to the highest standards of academic publishing, including rigorous, double-blind, peer review and making research available, free of charge, to an interested audience. As subscription costs rise and many libraries have to save resources, we are committed to making high quality research available for researchers without cost.
This article examines the political dynamics of Euro-Balkan police cooperation in the context of recent Balkan history. In the existing scholarship, the process of the ‘externalisation’ of EU-wide law enforcement cooperation outside the Union's geographic frontiers is widely considered to be a ‘functional-instrumental’ response to the menace of organised crime. Scholars believe that the functional rationale has been a primary driver behind the Union's endeavours to extend its governance of internal security to the EU's core strategic neighbourhood of the Western Balkans. Perceived in EU political discourse as a ‘stronghold’ of organised crime, in the 2000s this region acted as a major site for the Union's counter-crime initiatives.
Local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were held on 15 November 2020. These were the seventh local elections since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995. Only in Mostar were the elections held at a somewhat later date, on 20 December 2020, and for the first time after twelve years. These local elections were organised and took place under complex circumstances marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic turmoil. Nevertheless, the elections brought major political changes, mainly in urban areas. Opposition politicians (in the period before and after the elections) emphasised that these elections are just an introduction to events and changes that will take place during the 2022 general elections. Similar views were voiced by political analysts and the media.
On 4 December 2020, Montenegro’s parliament elected a government led by Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić, the leader of the For the Future of Montenegro (Za budućnost Crne Gore, ZBCG) coalition in the 30 August 2020 parliamentary election. This was a landmark in contemporary Montenegrin history. For the first time since Montenegro reestablished a multiparty system in 1990, the Democratic Party of Socialists (Demokratska partija socijalista, DPS) went into opposition. Despite technically winning the election with 35.06% of the votes, the DPS left power due to the ZBCG’s alliance with the Peace is our Nation (Mir je naša nacija, MNN) and Black on White (Crno na bijelo, CnB) electoral coalitions.
Some years ago, the Romanian writer Mircea Cartarescu was approached by a German publisher at the Frankfurt book fair, who said he was interested in Eastern European writers. Cartarescu immediately responded that he did not consider himself an Eastern European writer. “Of course,” the publisher con-ceded, “as a Romanian you are from Southeastern Europe.” For Cartarescu this simple spacing had the following direct message: “Stay where you are,” the publisher was telling me in a friendly manner. “Stay in your own ghetto. De-scribe your tiny chunk of (South) Eastern European history. Write about your Securitate, about your Ceausescu, about your People’s House. About your dogs, your homeless children, your Gypsies. Be proud with your dissidence during the communist days. Leave it to us to write about love, death, happiness, ago-ny, and ecstasy.
Two recent books on Kosovo offer some compelling insights and answers as to why international state-builders stumbled in Kosovo: Elton Skendaj’s, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions and Andrea Lorenzo Capussela’s State-Building in Kosovo: Democracy, Corruption and the EU in the Balkans. Both books are welcome additions to the growing discourse on state-building and touch on some of the more important themes that have recently dominated the literature, including the principle of local ownership, the limitations of technocratic approaches to state-building, and the dilemmas of political corruption and state capture in postwar societies.