OSCE contributes to consolidation of democratic institutions in Western Balkans

Interview published at To Vima

10 December 2021

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Vice-President and Special Representative on South East Europe Azay Guliyev

1. A serious migration crisis has been recently developing at the borders between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. Many sides talk about a “weaponization” of migrants. How do you view the situation from an OSCE perspective? What security challenges does it pose?

AG: I am aware that some analysts have indeed used the terms “weaponization” or “manipulation” of migrants. Others have referred to “the misuse of migration pull and push factors” as “hybrid warfare”. Sadly, it is innocent people fleeing conflict or hardship who suffer the most and, whenever this happens, it is a symptom indicating that inward-looking national policies and geopolitical engineering prevail over good-faith multilateral co-operation.

Parliaments have the responsibility and the moral obligation to counter this degrading context because as parliamentarians we represent people. This most recent migration crisis poses a serious security challenge for the OSCE region. I remain however hopeful that this negative phase of contemporary history will be overtaken by a more positive phase which will find traction on consolidated principles of international co-operation through a renewed sense of collective responsibility. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will continue to play its part in trying to foster dialogue and build bridges to help promote convergence over migration management and other complex international issues of the present and the future.

2. Western Balkans find themselves in a political vacuum for years and the prospect of EU integration fades away. In the meantime, nationalistic impulses seem to be on the rise, such as in Bosnia. What are your main thoughts as far as the Western Balkans are concerned?

AG: Eighteen years have passed since the historic EU-Western Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki which offered a clear European perspective for the region, yet only Serbia and Montenegro have been able to start accession negotiations. Inevitably, long “waiting times” have triggered less positive side effects, including nationalistic tendencies, Euroscepticism, brain loss due to emigration, and diminished thrust behind the reform processes. The recent escalation of tension in Bosnia and Herzegovina is indeed a worrisome development. Bosnia and Herzegovina is amongst my priorities and I am planning to undertake an official visit as soon as possible. The OSCE, mainly through its network of field operations which continues to ensure unmatched international presence in the region, including at the grassroots levels, has undoubtedly lent a crucial contribution to containing the side effects of a protracted EU accession process. This said, despite all these challenges, it is important to note that the EU perspective continues to represent the most effective incentive for reforms and regional stability.

3. How would you evaluate the current state of play as far as corruption and the level of democratic institutions in the Western Balkans are concerned? Could you highlight specific examples? Would you share the term “stabilitocracy” that some analysts are using?

AG: The Western Balkans have marked undisputable progress in strengthening their democratic institutions and also in developing their anti-corruption systems. This progress has come along hand in hand with the EU accession process and has therefore lost momentum whenever the accession process lost its propulsion. The return of divisive dynamics, as well as the crisis of multilateralism, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have also contributed to slowing down progress. We notice a correlation between how Western Balkan countries rank on international corruption perception indexes and the advancement of their respective EU accession processes. The faster the integration into the EU, the lower the corruption indexes. The OSCE continues to lend its contribution toward sustaining a vast range of reforms and consolidating democratic institutions, including through election observation activities, which are a flagship activity of the Parliamentary Assembly. As experience shows, an approach aimed at prioritizing “stabilitocracy” would regrettably not lead to lasting results.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

  • Facebook
  • twir
  • in
  • inst
  • two
  • video