The 8 Challenges for Democracy in the Western Balkans

June 8, 2023

“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, we at the Forum 2000, the Association for International Affairs, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, 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, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia, but also for the EU policy makers and the international democratic community who have a stake in the region’s democratic stability.

This analysis is divided into the following two chapters:

  • 8 Challenges for Democracy in the Western Balkans
  • Policy recommendations (to EU policy makers, global democracy-promoting agencies, and regional CSO’s)

Special thanks to the authors Petr Čermák (coordinator), Sofija Todorović, and Agon Maliqi.

This publication was made possible thanks to the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.