Stability and Progress in the Western Balkans: Threats, Predictions, Solutions

February 01, 2017
10:00 am - 12:00 pm


Decades of international presence and investment in promoting stability and progress in the Western Balkans seem to have paid some dividends. But the full democratic consolidation of most former Yugoslav countries seems like an elusive goal. Political institutions remain weak and dominated by nationalist and populist strongmen who are polarizing societies. Endemic corruption, captured media, and public frustration plague transitions across the region. These challenges also make regional governments vulnerable to malign foreign influences. Russia, which has been expanding its geopolitical influence across the Balkans and neighboring regions, has already begun to exploit these vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, foreign fighter recruitment remains a threat in the region. Scores of veteran fighters have returned home to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, raising even greater security and radicalization risks, not just to these fragile states, but to the peace and stability of Europe as a whole.

2016 was particularly challenging, witnessing an escalation of domestic crises in key countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, and even Croatia. Neighborly relations have suffered as well. Two decades after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, rhetoric at both the political and grassroots levels increasingly resembles that of the early 1990s. Featuring some of the region’s leading practitioners and analysts, this event explored new threats to stability and progress in the Western Balkans, assessed upcoming challenges and opportunities, and proposed ways forward.


Andrej Nosov, Director, Heartefact Fund & Reagan-Fascell Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy

Goran Miletić, Program Director for the Western Balkans, Civil Rights Defenders

Jasmin Mujanović, Policy Consultant, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung – Dialogue Southeast Europe

Sandra Orlović, former Executive Director, Humanitarian Law Center

moderated by

Ivana Cvetković Bajrović, Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for Democracy

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

1025 F Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004


Andrej Nosov is a political activist and an award-winning artist who uses a variety of media to engage the public in the politics of memory, transitional justice, and the rights of marginalized communities. In 2003, he founded the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), the region’s leading youth organization with offices throughout the former Yugoslavia. In 2009, he established the Heartefact Fund, a regional Balkan foundation utilizing philanthropy and the arts to engage the public on issues of human rights and reconciliation. Named one of NED’s “30 Under 30” in 2013, Nosov currently serves as director of the Heartefact Fund.

Goran Miletić is the program director for the Western Balkans at Civil Rights Defenders (CRD, formerly the Swedish Helsinki Committee), a global human rights organization based in Stockholm. In this capacity, he oversees support to human rights groups and media in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Prior to joining CRD in 2004, he worked for the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade, focusing on minority rights. Miletić holds a law degree from Belgrade University and an MA from the European Regional Master on Democracy and Human Rights in Sarajevo.

Jasmin Mujanović is a political scientist and analyst of southeast European and international affairs, with a particular interest in the politics of post-conflict and post-authoritarian democratization. Presently, he is a policy consultant for the Sarajevo-based regional office of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the primary researcher and author for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia for Freedom House’s annual “Freedom in the World” reports. His first book, Hunger and Fury: The Crisis of Democracy in the Balkans, will be published by Hurst Publishers and Oxford University Press in 2017.

Sandra Orlović is the former executive director of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) in Belgrade, one of the region’s leading transitional justice organizations. Prior to taking the leadership position in 2012, Orlović led the HLC’s teams working on the Kosovo Memory Book project and exploring questions of reparations for war victims. Orlović obtained her law degree from the University of Belgrade, and is currently pursuing an LL.M. in International Human Rights at Northwestern University. The Schwarzkopf Foundation from Berlin awarded Orlović with the title of Young European of the Year in 2009.

Ivana Cvetković Bajrović is senior program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she oversees the democracy assistance program in Southeast Europe. Her previous experiences include training U.S. soldiers deploying to the Balkans, and supporting the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She received her Master of Public Administration from Bowie State University and an MA in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna. Her book Mistakes Donors Make: Civil Society and Democracy Assistance in the Balkans was published in Serbia in 2011.