GIS Dossier: The Western Balkans
Of all Europe’s trouble spots, the Western Balkans have a solid claim to being the most troublesome. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the region is finally stable and – save for a violent flare-up or two – peaceful. But plenty of tensions remain, corruption runs rampant and the rule of law is unevenly applied. With all these potential stumbling blocks, the region’s road toward prosperity remains bumpy. This Dossier reviews GIS reports on this region, so critical to Europe’s lasting peace.
Joseph Kabila will not be moved
For long-serving presidents in sub-Saharan Africa, there are few incentives to step down. That applies to President Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has managed to extend his term beyond the constitutional limits. The country has been in a deep crisis since 2015, and conditions are primed to deteriorate in 2018. Even if long-promised elections do take place, they will hardly mark the beginning of a new era.
Djibouti remains well-positioned, despite uncertainty
Geography is Djibouti’s key asset. Its strategic location in the Horn of Africa has lured global powers to establish military bases there, bolstering its economy and security. How much the country will continue to benefit will depend on regional stability, especially in Ethiopia and Somalia, as well as ethnic tensions domestically.
Serbia prepares to change course on Kosovo
The Serbian-Albanian dispute over Kosovo has kept the Western Balkans unstable for more than a century. Now, President Aleksandar Vucic is preparing the Serbian public for a new opening – recognition of Kosovo’s independence as the price of admission to the European Union. The Serbian public and senior officials are far from convinced this is the right move – some are calling for partitioning the territory and keeping Serbia’s orientation towards Russia.
How domestic instability shapes the power play over Myanmar
Competing forces are pulling Myanmar in different directions. China is deeply involved in the country's politics and economy, while the West is withdrawing after several years of engagement. ASEAN, Japan and India are interested in business opportunities and countering Chinese influence. How these factors affect Myanmar will be determined by the country's internal politics, including the interplay between the military and civilian authorities, and whether it can peacefully resolve its ethnic conflicts.
DRC’s problems start with a forced unitary state
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is mired in conflict that is causing death and starvation on a huge scale. Violence among tribes or between regions and the central government has been a near-constant feature of the country since its independence from Belgium in 1960. This is because of its abrupt transition to independence and international insistence that it remain a single unitary state – despite it comprising a myriad of ethnicities and groups with distinct identities. Until the international community realizes its mistake, the tragedy will continue.