The EU as a promoter of democracy or ‘stabilitocracy’ in the Western Balkans?
February 2022
The EU as a promoter of democracy or ‘stabilitocracy’ in the Western Balkans?
A report by The Clingendael Institute and the Think for Europe Network (TEN)
Wouter Zweers, Giulia Cretti, Myrthe de Boon, Alban Dafa, Strahinja Subotić, Milena Muk, Arbër Fetahu, Dr Ardita Abazi Imeri, Hata Kujraković & Emina Kuhinja

Disclaimer: The research for and production of this report has been conducted within the PROGRESS research framework agreement. Responsibility for the contents and for the opinions expressed, rests solely with the authors and does not constitute, nor should be construed as, an endorsement by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.

About the authors

Wouter Zweers is a Research Fellow at the EU & Global Affairs Unit of the Clingendael Institute. His research revolves around the external dimension of EU policymaking, focusing specifically on the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership regions. He coordinates Clingendael’s ‘Balkans Hub’, a project in which Clingendael engages with think tanks from the Western Balkans in joint research and events. Wouter holds a BA in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam and an MA in International Public Management and Policy from the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Giulia Cretti is a Junior Research Fellow at the EU & Global Affairs Unit of the Clingendael Institute. Her research focuses on EU integration and public policy as well as on EU external policies, in particular EU relations with the Western Balkans and the external dimension of the European Green Deal.

Myrthe de Boon is a Research Assistant at the EU & Global Affairs Unit of the Clingendael Institute, where she focuses on EU internal and external policies, notably EU enlargement.

Alban Dafa is a researcher of governance and security at the Tirana-based Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM). His work focuses on Albanian security and defence institutions and EU accession-related governance reforms. Before joining IDM, he served in the Albanian Naval Force as a patrol boat commander, navigator and junior hydrographer. Alban is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a Chevening alumnus.

Strahinja Subotić is Programme Manager and Senior Researcher at the European Policy Centre (CEP - Belgrade) – a think tank he joined in early 2017. As the head of the Europe&Us programme area, his key fields of expertise are the enlargement policy and EU affairs. His other areas of expertise include geopolitics and the involvement of external actors such as China, Russia and Turkey in the Western Balkans. Strahinja is also currently pursuing a PhD degree at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade.

Milena Muk is a Researcher at the Podgorica-based think tank Institute Alternative. She is also an NGO representative within Montenegro’s Council for Public Administration Reform. She holds a Master’s degree in Southeast European studies from University of Athens, at which she is currently a PhD candidate. Milena is a graduate of the Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade. Before joining the IA in 2012, she worked as a journalist for BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network) and the Belgrade-based Centre for Investigative Journalism. She is author of many publications on key burning issues of Montenegro’s EU integration, including professionalisation and depoliticisation of administration, political clientelism and rule of law.

Arbër Fetahu is a Research Fellow at Group for Legal and Political Studies. His work is primarily focused on foreign policy, public policy, democratisation, European integration, and governance. Arbër is a Master's graduate in Global/International Studies at Missouri State University.

Dr Ardita Abazi Imeri is co-founder and European Policy Institute Programme Director. She is responsible for overall strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of EPIs work and heads the programmes Accession monitoring and Advocacy, Democracy and Rule of Law and EU acquis and sectorial policies. Areas of focus in her work are accession monitoring, conditionality policy, benchmarking, rule of law, public administration reform (PAR), consumer protection and promotion of social cohesion policies.

Hata Kujraković is an MSc student of European Affairs at Lund University, Sweden, and a recipient of Lund University Global Scholarship. She holds a BA degree in International Relations and European Studies from International Burch University, BiH. She has worked on various projects related to the improvement and promotion of human rights and the advancement of knowledge in the sciences among students in BiH. Her interests are political processes in the EU. Hata is a Humanity in Action BiH and a Foreign Policy Initiative BH fellow.

Emina Kuhinja obtained her MA degree in Political Science – Integration and Governance from University of Salzburg. Upon completion of her BA studies, she obtained a double Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations, with a minor in International Law, from University Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and University of Buckingham. Emina is a community educator on topics of reciprocal radicalisation for the Atlantic Initiative and a researcher at Foreign Policy Initiative BH. Her current research is focused mainly on the EU-Western Balkans relations, encompassing integration and migration policies, security and EU accession of BiH.

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