Trump’s Foreign Policy, Russia and the Balkans

An interview with Aleksandra Nenadović, Voice of America, 9 November 2016 by Corax for the Serbian daily Danas

What does the electoral victory of Donald Trump mean for US foreign policy in the Balkans? Any prediction is fraught with high uncertainties because no one knows the extent to which Trump’s populist demagoguery from the electoral campaign will become official US policy.

However, many observers concur that American foreign policy will be more inward-looking and realist. The realist notion of a balance of power would resonate with the ideas of Russia as a great power and a new Jalta-order shared by Russia’s current political leadership. A balance-of-power orientation would imply conceding zones of influence to other great powers and deemphasizing concerns for universalist ideas such as democracy or political freedoms.

read more

Serbia between EU/NATO and Russia

An interview with Aleksandra Nenadović, Voice of America.

Nikolai’ Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s National Security Council, met with Serbia’s President, Prime Minister and other ministers in Belgrade on 25/26 October 2016. The official aim of this visit was to discuss the security situation and options for a military-technical cooperation between Serbia and Russia. Patrushev also proposed a memorandum of understanding on a security cooperation between Serbia and Russia.

The visit coincided with the news that Montenegrin and Serbian police arrested two groups of Serbian citizens who are suspected of preparing a coup against the government of Montenegro.  Montenegro’s decision to join NATO has become a major controversy between the government and several opposition parties. Following a series of mass protests, the opposition alliance “Democratic Front” (Demokratski Front, DF) tried to frame the parliamentary elections of 16 October 2016 as a vote against the NATO membership of Montenegro. The government has claimed that Russia was financing and supporting the DF. Details from the ongoing investigations against the suspected coup-plotters indicate an involvement of Russian actors.

read more

BTI 2018 Kick-Off and Concept Paper

On 12/13 September the core group behind the Transformation Index (BTI) met at Bertelsmann Stiftung’s always impressive Gütersloh headquarters to prepare the new survey wave.

Swans’ view of the Foundation’s headquarters

BTI is a global expert survey on the quality of democracy, market economy and governance, now in its eighth edition (!) scheduled for publication in 2018. Questionnaires will be sent to country experts at the end of October. The submission of country reports will trigger off an elaborate procedure of reviewing, revising, calibrating, editing and lesson-drawing, keeping us busy throughout the next year.

read more

Zur Umsetzung der Minsker Abkommen

Ein Interview zur aktuellen Lage in der Ukraine und zum Treffen der Trilateralen Kontaktgruppe, ARD Tagesschau 24

03.08.2016 11:52 Uhr

Geht es in der Ukraine voran? Reformen in Justiz, bessere Korruptionsbekämpfung, eine bessere Wirtschaftslage geben aus Sicht von Martin Brusis von der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Grund zur Hoffnung. Sorge bereiten ihm unter anderem die Kämpfe im Osten des Landes.


Die Minsker Abkommen scheinen gescheitert, die Zivilbevölkerung im Osten der Ukraine ist in Gefahr, aber es gibt auch Hoffnungsschimmer für das Land – so schätzt zumindest Martin Brusis von der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München im Gespräch mit tagesschau24 die Situation in der Ukraine ein.

read more

Democracies Adrift

How the European Crises Affect East-Central Europe, in: Problems of Post-Communism, 63 (5), September 2016

The present article proposes to study and compare the state of democracy in East-Central European countries. Such a comparative survey is deemed timely because there have been electoral landslides, corruption scandals involving political leaders and mass protests in several of these countries. Popular satisfaction with democracy has declined and democratic accountability institutions have been eroded in Hungary and Poland. These developments pose questions about where these democracies are heading and how their paths are related to the crisis of European integration.

read more

Policy Analysis and Policy Evaluation

A workshop with Belgrade Open School staff, 16-18 May 2016

To upgrade their research capacity, think tanks need access to methodological and conceptual tools that have recently been developed by researchers in the field of policy analysis and evaluation. My three-day workshop with Belgrade Open School provided an overview on rationalist and institutionalist approaches of policy analysis, focusing on examples from Europeanization studies. Notions of causation and strategies to deal with confounding causes formed the basis of our discussion on evaluation methods. The workshop also included an introduction to regression and factor analysis, two key tools of empirical policy research.

read more

Politics and Religion in Eastern Europe

An interview with Magda Crișan, Romanian TV program Digi24, 11 May 2016

Political elites in East European countries have often referred to religious beliefs or sought to form alliances with church leaders. One aim of their efforts has been to convince citizens and the public that they share common values and are committed to act ethically responsibly.

Putin_KyrillMore frequent references and appeals to shared religious beliefs in recent years reflect the growth of right-wing populism, uncertainties caused by the crisis of European integration and fears regarding the inflow of predominantly Muslim refugees. The extent to which religious references are made in political discourses also varies according to the strength of religious allegiances and the respective influence of churches in societies. Contemporary resonance structures are rooted in state identities and the influences of historical state-building coalitions with churches.

read more

Zum Einfluss des IWF in Bosnien und Herzegowina

Ein Interview mit Harun Cero für Al Jazeera Balkans, 8.5.2016

Picture source: EPA Archive

– Der Internationale Währungsfonds verhandelt mit Bosnien und Herzegowina über ein neues Stand-by Arrangement. Wuerden Sie der Analyse zustimmen, dass Bosnien wirtschaftlich unabhängig ist?

Die komplexen Verwaltungsstrukturen behindern ausländische Investititionen und vergrößern die Rechtsunsicherheit für alle Investoren. Bosnien ist aber in hohem Maße vom Ausland abhängig, da das Land nicht nur ausländische Investitionen benötigt, sondern auch über seinen Außenhandel, Kredite, Finanzhilfen und die Rücküberweisungen von bosnischen Arbeitsmigranten international verflochten ist.

read more

The State of Democracy in Bulgaria

Interview with the Bulgarian business newspaper Dnevnik, 9 April 2014

Dnevnik journalist Aleksandrina Ginkova interviewed me on the latest Bulgaria country report written for the Transformation Index project.

Protests in Sofia, photo by Yulia Lazarova,
Protests in Sofia, photo by Yulia Lazarova,

The report mentions that a culture change within institutions is required to guarantee sustainability. Can you elaborate on the problems in the work culture and how are they related to corruption?

The notion of “culture change” used in the country report refers to entrenched practices and behavioral patterns within the Bulgarian judiciary and other state institutions. Foreign and domestic observers were surprised and shocked when the government of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski attempted to appoint the controversial businessman Delyan Peevski as Chair of the State Agency for National Security. This decision was in striking contrast with its public commitment to combat corruption.

read more

Performance Monitoring for Montenegro

Government of Montenegro: Cabinet Meeting

Montenegro belongs to a group of income-poor, small and young Southeast and East European democracies interested in joining the EU. To master the challenges of accession and membership, these states have to create a modern and effective public administration. However, experience has shown that externally imposed accession conditions and regulatory alignment do not sufficiently prepare new EU member states to overcome culturally ingrained practices of corruption and clientelism. Accession-driven administrative reforms yield sustainable effects only if they are complemented by stronger domestic public accountability.

read more