Policymakers in the UK and western countries have shown burgeoning interest in the Western Balkans in recent months due to lingering socio-political problems and several noteworthy developments. These include unresolved border (and ethno-national) disputes, the resurgence of right-wing and religious extremism, and growing interest in the region from national actors outside of the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Recognising that democratic regimes in most countries in the region are a long way from consolidation, and are in need of meaningful external support, Aktis Strategy and LSE invited UK-based experts, academics and policymakers to discuss key security issues in the Western Balkans and how to best support states and actors in the region to tackle them.
The invited experts identified a number of key challenges facing WB states, including pervasive state capture, corruption, organised crime, and a changing global geopolitical situation that has had knock-on effects on the region. Speakers agreed that none of the security challenges in the region that have made headlines recently – such as Russian meddling, Turkish influence, radicalisation, and organised crime – are new; what has changed, however, is the external context in which these challenges must be understood and addressed, from Brexit to the troubling and worsening relationship with Russia.
The key message delivered by roundtable participants was underscoring the pervasive and debilitating effects corruption has had on the development of the Western Balkan countries. In light of this, we propose the establishment of an Expert Working Group on Good Governance in the Western Balkans to discuss existing evidence and provide expertise on best practices for tackling corruption. This group of experts will meet every three months and will link corruption to different topics including organised crime, the media, law enforcement and the provision of public services, generating practical solutions and suggestions for international actors through periodic reports and updates.
To read our full briefing from the event please click here.