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Securing democracy in the Western Balkans by strengthening the rule of law

In its new methodology of the accession process, the EU has defined the rule-of-law as one of its fundamentals simnce 2020, underlining its importance as a core European value. All countries of the Western Balkan, despite reform efforts in the past and present, are struggling with organised crime and corruption, clientelism in their institutions, a weak judiciary and low trust of citizens in the system. The poor condition of the rule of law undermines the public’s trust in the effectiveness of democracy. In the long run, this can have disastrous effects on the democratic consolidation in the Western Balkans.

The Western Balkans: divided over the war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has exposed different views on sanctions against Russia by Serbia, and the Republic of Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina, on the one side, and other Western Balkan states and entities on the other. The EU should handle the issue cautiously, to avoid further splits and to prevent securitisation of the issue.

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The better part of valour: peace for Ukraine

Not discretion, but clarity is the better part of valour. Ukraine has courageously resisted the imperialist assault on its sovereignty by Russia, whose most important war aim is to reach back to Peter the Great. Russia wants access to warm-water ports, and buffers against invasion to its West and North. Whatever the successes of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, these aims have all been tainted in one way or another.

A new direction for a more European NATO

When, back in 2021, as the Foreign Minister of Spain, I approached NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg about Spain hosting the 2022 Summit, I could not anticipate the very specific circumstances that the alliance faces today. I could not have imagined how decisive the Madrid summit would be for peace and stability in Europe.