The policy discussion “How to win the fight for democracy in the Western Balkan? The impact of the super-election year 2024” organised as a cooperation between BiEPAG and the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (oiip) was held on March 19th in Vienna.
The event which hosted a group of members of Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group as panellists was held at the oiip (Währinger Strasse 3/12, 1090, Wien).

The year 2024 epitomizes a democratic paradox. Although democracy will be on the ballot throughout the global super-election year, elections for the European parliament, US elections… democracy itself has rarely felt more vulnerable. In a cautioned warning proclaimed by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Maria Ressa, ‘We will know whether democracy lives or dies by the end of 2024.’ In the Western Balkan EU candidate countries that had been experiencing democratic backsliding for already more than a decade, Ressa’s prophetic warning is even more worrying.

Opening up an honest debate about the support by foreign actors to Western Balkans regimes that oscillate between autocracy and democracy in exchange for the false promise of stability was deemed as crucial both for BiEPAG and oiip, so the dicussion adressed the key questions on -  How to productively counteract stagnation and authoritarian entrenchment? Which are the instruments at hand to condemn electoral fraud in Serbia or stagnant levels of freedom of expression and alternative sources of information in the Western Balkans? What are the prospects to improving commitment to the enlargement process by showing clear support for recent pro-democracy initiatives in the region?

Vedran Dzihic
Senior Researcher oiip

Florian Bieber
Professor for Southeast European History and Politics at the University of Graz and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies / BiEPAG Coordinator

Richard Grieveson
Deputy Director at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw) / BiEPAG Member

Corina Stratulat
Associate Director and Head of Programme, EPC – European Politics and Institutions, Brussels / BiEPAG Member

Marina Vulovic
Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Potsdam, Visiting Fellow at the SWP Berlin / BiEPAG Member

With additional brief comments by:
Lura Pollozhani
Researcher at the Centre for Southeast European Studies / BiEPAG Member

Nikola Dimitrov
President and co-founder of the Balkan Center for Constructive Policies – Solution, North Macedonia / BiEPAG Member

Jovana Marovic
Former Deputy Prime Minister and European Affairs Minister of Montenegro / BiEPAG Member

Srdjan Majstorovic
Chairman of the Governing Board of the European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade / BiEPAG Member