"Dispatches from Europe" Blog Contest

Did you travel to the European Union this summer? Submit a post to be featured on our Across the Pond blog and win prizes!

Videos of Previous Lectures

Missed an EUC-hosted lecture? Our blog's video tag has archived previous EUC-sponsored lectures.

EUCE's 2014 Outstanding Outreach Activity Award Winner

The University of Pittsburgh's "Conversations on Europe" is this year's winner for the European Center of Excellence's 2014 Outstanding Outreach Activity Award

The EU's Big Bang and Beyond: A Decade After European Enlargement

The European Union Center hosted a roundtable discussion featuring Consuls General from Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania on February 26, 2014.

School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics Spring 2014 Newsletter

SLCL's Spring 2014 Newsletter highlights many EUC-sponsored events and accomplishments of EUC-affiliated staff

Perspectives on Ukraine

To learn more about the recent unrest in the Ukraine, visit the "Ukraine" tag for blog posts and recaps of events that took place during the 2013-14 academic year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Saor Alba or Long Live the Union?

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Eda Derhemi talks with Daryl Rodgers about the coming referendum in Scotland. 

When Daryl and I taught for the Italian program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we never used English. For years our everyday conversations, our meetings, our parties were all conducted naturally in Italian. The friends that we shared were also Italian. But the one time that I heard Daryl speak to somebody in English was enough for me to never forget the beauty of his Scottish accent. It was like something coming directly from a theatrical stage where Douglas of John Home was being recited, or, to be more contemporary, like something similar to Sean Connery’s accent. It also might be that I am in love with the sounds of all the languages of the world, especially the endangered languages of minorities… In fact, I could have interviewed the green ogre Shrek for the purpose of this blog entry (who as I’ve read has expressed his support for the unionists in these words: Mike Myers speaking as Shrek: "Shrek wants what the will of the Scottish people want." He added in his own accent: "I love Scotland. I hope they remain part of Britain - and if they don't, I still love them.") [source] But I preferred to interview a real Scot with particular linguistic sensibilities, although he lives in the US and speaks Italian as a working language. This is my conversation with Daryl Rodgers, a Scottish professor of Italian at the University of Susquehanna. 

On September 18th, after an officially renewed initiative and after years of campaigning of its First Minister Mr. Salmond of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Scotland will vote on whether to secede from the union with Britain, and become an independent state. The polls last year made officials in the Westminster feel relatively comfortable because of a significant advantage for the Union supporters. But The Economist of this morning (September 13th) reports that the polls have recently shifted from a 20 point difference to a 2 point difference [source]. Hence the results at this point are very close to call, and therefore the campaigning has become fierce on both sides. Obviously at this point every single vote matters.

1. Is the voting made possible for the Scots who do not live in Scotland, and are you going to vote?

I would like to be able to vote but I can’t. Only people with a permanent address in Scotland are entitled to a vote. Even my younger sister and her (Scottish) husband who live in London cannot vote. On the other hand, people from other countries (including England) who are currently living in Scotland can vote. I understand the reasoning, but I would still like to vote.

2. Is your native town a strong advocate of the independence or is it against it? Or are the people there divided on the issue, like in most of Scotland?

I think the country is pretty much divided 50/50. Based on what I hear and what I’ve seen from people I know in Scotland on social media, it looks like it will come down to the wire.  

3. This is what was recently reported: “12 Sep 2014: The Guardian/ICM poll finds support for the “no” campaign at 51% and “yes” at 49% with less than a week to go, but 17% of voters say they have yet to make up their mind.” [source] From discussing with your friends and family, are these numbers credible to you?

I know my own family (my parents and older sister who all live in Scotland) were split on how they were going to vote. Well, at least up until recently, that is. Now they all seem to be on the same side (the YES side). The tactics used by the NO campaign seem have to been responsible for this move. More about that later!

4. As a Scot who lives and works in the US are you in any way personally affected by the results of the referendum?

It’s interesting. I have actually wondered about this myself. I have wondered when I next go home whether I will need a different passport, for example, or whether I will need to go through border control when I drive from Scotland to England to visit my sister. But I think it will affect me more indirectly in the sense that my family are still there and what affects them (positively or negatively) will of course have some kind of effect on me, I suppose. 

5. How old were you when you first heard about the possibility for Scotland to be completely independent from England? Has this issue been important for the general population during the time you grew up and during your studies in Scotland or has the question of independence become more of a public issue only in recent years after the victory of the SNP?

The question of independence from England has always been lingering in the background for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the 80s in Scotland I had always heard about how Scotland had had the chance to be more independent but that the English government hadn’t allowed it because the proportion of voters was not large enough (in reference to the 1979 vote for a devolved Scottish parliament). However, I always saw the SNP as the idealistic party with no hopes of every getting elected. I always had the idea that Scottish independence was something of a fairy tale or for the movies. Never did I think that Alex Salmond would go on to become the First Minister of Scotland, and never ever did I think that we’d get to the point where we are now that Scotland could possibly become an independent country again. It’s really amazing. 

6. The conservative Prime Minister David Cameron (whose personal political capital will be significantly damaged if Scotland votes independence) went to Scotland three days ago, together with other leaders of the whole ideological spectrum like Miliband and Clegg, to convince the Scots to remain in the Union. It seems like Westminster, surprised and troubled by the recent polls, is now promising to Scotland further devolution and more power [source]. This was immediately repudiated by Mr. Salmond who called it an panicky measure and an effort to bribe the Scots (The Economist, Sept. 12). Certainly large economic interests are at stake here, (especially in the oil, fishing, banking and whiskey industries) but those are played in two completely different ways by the opposing parties. There is talk (Jim Sillars from SNP as reported by BBC News, Sept. 12) that large wealthy private companies in Scotland are in cahoots with the Prime Minister to keep Scotland poor, and that their "day of reckoning" and nationalization is coming if Scotland votes for independence. The New York Times (Sept. 11) connected the independence of Scotland with the exit of Britain from Europe based on fears of banking industries if independence has its way.

A) Do you think such complex economic and political issues that go beyond the borders of Scotland, are made clear to the voters by the Scottish media? Or have the political leaders of both sides had an easy way in stirring up mass emotions based on the old “disdain for Westminster” and the fears that wealth and advantages coming from central power will be gone if independence comes? 

My impression is that, as is typical of all political parties, nobody really knows anything for sure. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it seems like both sides continue to contend that each one is correct and the public is still left wondering whether or not Scotland will lose big businesses or whether or not they can actually survive on their own thanks to their oil/ whiskey/ fishing, etc. industries. Each side wants to believe what it wants to believe and it seems very difficult to find any impartial sources right now. Just the other day the BBC was accused of impartiality in its reporting of the independence debates and issues. Of course, that’s not a big surprise. It’s been widely accepted for years that the BBC was in the pockets of the English government anyway!

B) Also, can Cameron’s promises still change the results of the vote? The polls show that many voters have changed their minds only very recently, especially very young voters, like students. Do you think the public is well aware of what is at stake and of the pros and cons of independence from England, or do you believe people (especially the young) are jumping on the bandwagon of independence right now under some sort of festive hypnosis…?

I honestly think that when Cameron (and Clegg and Miliband) came to Scotland last week they did more harm than good for their side. One thing they should know by now is that you don’t get anywhere with Scots (man or woman) by threatening them and that, essentially, is what they did. Having said that, I believe that fear ultimately has a great effect on people, and so I have to think that more than the threats of the English government, the threats from big banks and businesses might end up swaying the undecided to vote NO. My concern, of course, is that someone would vote out of fear, but equally so that someone would vote out of “festive hypnosis”, as you put it, because at the end of the day the party is going to finish and the people are going to be left to face reality – whatever that ends up being.

7. Cameron has his own troubles right now in connection to his promise for a British referendum in 2017 (if he wins the 2015 general elections) on whether to leave the EU. His new requests and political moves are seen very skeptically by Merkel and other EU members who, while asking Britain’s cooperation, are talking of “finite patience” with England (The Guardian, Feb. 27, 2014). Many today believe Cameron is doing this for election purposes and that in fact he is not in the position to renegotiate terms with the EU. 

A) Once Scots particularly liked the possibility of being in the EU without being in the Euro-zone, just like England. I mean their hope for sharing England’s “special treatment” in the EU was strong, but probably is becoming now less alluring than it used to be. As recently as November 2013 the Scottish government, while contemplating independence, was still leaning towards gaining EU membership through article 48 of the EU Treaty (hence, from within the UK), and not through article 49 (as an independent State). Do you think the perceived weakness of Britain vis-a-vis EU could be the reason why the Scots’ support for independence has surged recently? 

I honestly doubt it. My perception of Scotland’s relationship with the EU has always been that it is tenuous at best. My feeling has always been that Scotland (and the U.K. in general) feel only peripherally connected to the EU – both geographically and politically. I think there may actually be more interest in being an integral part of the EU if Scotland were to become an independent state than there was when it was part of the U.K. simply for practical reasons – being a smaller fish in the pond it would possibly be seen as more beneficial to ‘belong’ to the big pond than it seems right now for most Scots. However, I do not believe that is the motivating factor for most Scots.

B) Do you think there is still a wide-spread belief among Scots that they need Britain in order to advance in the EU or do they think that Britain’s power in the EU is fading away?

I think I probably answered part of this question above, but I will add that again, in my personal opinion and based on my perceptions, Scottish people (and the U.K. in general) seem to have grown tired of being ‘dictated to by Brussels’, to quote an often heard phrase. As you can imagine, proud Scots haven’t taken too kindly to what they perceive as France and Germany telling them how to run their business, especially when they believe that Eurocrats in Brussels have no real idea of the reality of living in Scotland. But that’s not a sentiment limited to Scotland, I know. Many Italians I know feel exactly the same. It’s interesting to note that for years Scots have been complaining that they are tired of being told what to do by politicians in London. So, that feeling has been compounded when you add Brussels to the equation!

Let us now move to discussing more fun issues than economic politics. Let us talk about culture, deep rooted national psychology and especially, let us talk about language.

8. The film Braveheart is considered by the reviewers as a historically inaccurate film. Do people in Scotland see it mainly as a commercial production based on a spectacular exaggerated myth or as a story that does symbolic justice to their struggle to be free and independent? 

I think it’s probably a bit of both. While we recognize the historical inaccuracies of the film, I think it did help reignite some pride in Scotland and rekindle a nationalistic spirit. Of course, such feelings can be short-lived if there’s no political force to back them up and that appears to be what has happened in the last three years.

9. Are people like William Wallace or Andrew Moray seen by young Scots as legendary figures and remote folkloric images, or do they continue to actively resuscitate feelings of political apprising and self-determination? Do the school text books have any role in this? Coming from the Balkans I know that the battle of Kosovo of year 1389 between the Balkan forces and the Ottomans, is still celebrated by certain groups as an event that happened only a few years ago, and it is used very successfully by political parties today to swing peoples’ votes. Are the years 1328 or 1707 seen in the same way in Scotland, or do Scots no longer see themselves as victims of the Kingdom of Great Britain, so that independence is simply a practical step of Real politics to become a stronger state? 

I would venture to say that more young Scots know who Andrew (Andy) Murray is than Andrew Moray! William Wallace, yes – thanks to the film – but Andrew Moray, no. You see in my experience school textbooks (at least when I was at school) contained few if any references to Scottish history in general. Most of what I learned about Scottish history I learned on my own. My parents’ generation was much more informed on Scottish history, and British history in general (as far kings/ queens, Act of the Union, etc.). You see, for as much as we are a quietly proud country, I would say that we are not very patriotic, at least not in the way that other countries are, like the U.S. So, growing up, I do not remember celebrating any kind of event that was specific to Scotland only, except maybe a mention of St. Andrew’s Day or Robert Burns’ birthday. So, to me, the resurgence in Scottish nationalism is in many ways a surprise, but has grown out of a practical reality. It’s a feeling that has been growing in Scotland for some time, to be sure, but I believe it’s linked more to the realities of modern history than to some historical sentiment of resentment.

10. While the beautiful Scottish Gaelic language is seen today by many as a linguistic institution, we all know that it is in a definitely endangered state.  When in October 8, 2009 The Independent announced that Scottish Gaelic was accepted at EU level, it joyfully and ironically reported two events: first, that Jim Murphy, then the Secretary of State for Scotland, said “this will allow Gaelic speakers to communicate with European institutions in their mother tongue”; second, that the newspaper had contacted the Scottish Office, the Scottish Parliament  and the Scotsman Newspaper to see if the main statement for the introduction of the Scottish Gaelic in the EU and that of Mr. Murphy could be translated in Gaelic, but was given in all three places the answer that no one there could speak the language. This clearly underlines the problem, which is also shown by the numbers: in more than five million Scots, less than 60,000 speak the language (counting many who can barely use it in communication or who have only a symbolic competence in it).

A) Do you or members of your family speak Scottish Gaelic? Did you study the language at school and, if yes, for how long, and did it help? How about your friends, neighborhood, town?

I knew one person who spoke Gaelic. He went to high school with me and the only reason he spoke it was that his family had moved down from Barra in the Outer Hebrides. You see, as far as I understand, no dialect of the Gaelic language has been spoken in the central lowlands for hundreds of years. So, for us, it was always a language spoken only in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Despite efforts to encourage interest in Gaelic over the past twenty years – including putting up street signs in both English and Gaelic – I believe it continues to be spoken by relatively few people in the most populated areas of Scotland (i.e., the Central Belt). As a linguist, I would love to learn it, but even I can’t see much practical use for it in my life – except maybe if I visit the Island of Barra! ☺

B) An article of The Guardian today (September 13, 2014) raised concerns about how the cultural segments of the society that do not directly produce economic wealth will do in an independent Scotland. Classical musicians for example, were very concerned to lose the centrality of London as an international capital of music, large state subsidies coming from the central government, a large market considered secure in a union with Britain, and especially the unrestricted publicity coming from a large and important country. Do you think there are parallels of these fears expressed by classical musicians that could be the same for those who support the use and maintenance of Scottish Gaelic?

The only reason I could see that being true is that the BBC, and BBC Scotland in particular, has done a lot over the past several decades to try to develop programming for Gaelic speakers and to encourage others to learn Gaelic. But, I am more inclined to believe that independence may actually benefit the Gaelic language more than staying together.

C) Ireland is a clear example in that although Irish language is seen as a strong identity symbol, is legally recognized as the first official language of the country, and is given strong institutional and financial support, it has remained still very weak compared to English, is used by only a small portion of the population and is not advancing as expected.

Do you think Scottish Gaelic has better chances to survive and grow in the union with Britain or in an independent Scotland? Can you elaborate on the reasons?  

Irish Gaelic has always been much more widely spoken than Scottish Gaelic. For example, I believe that all Irish children learn both at school and that you must be bilingual in both in order to be able to get a job as a teacher in Ireland (I don’t know that for sure). But again, even there, I understand that there are areas of the country where people are more likely to speak Gaelic than in other parts. However, while I think Scottish Gaelic will never become a widely spoken language in Scotland, I think that there is more of a chance that it would become more popular if Scotland were to become an independent country. Somehow in my mind, for as long as Scotland remains part of the U.K. and its identity is wrapped up with that of the U.K., it will never see a real need – practical or sentimental – for teaching and learning Gaelic. Whereas, if it is independent, it would seem that its identity becomes more restricted in every sense to that of ‘just’ Scotland. In this case, recognizing and appreciating the cultural and linguistic diversity within our own borders may make more sense at that time.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Welcome Message from the EU Center, August 2014

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As classes get under way this week to start the academic year, the European Union Center welcomes
new and returning faculty, staff, and students to the University of Illinois campus.

We are very pleased to share the good news that the EUC succeeded in renewing, through a highly competitive grant process, its designation as one of ten EU Centers of Excellence in the United States. The one-year grant of €95,000 administered to the EUC by the EU Delegation to the US in Washington, DC will enable a host of new interdisciplinary initiatives in EU studies research, course development, and public engagement. You can read more on our blog about the new EU Center of Excellence grant and the participating faculty and activities that it will support.

Over the summer, the EUC also submitted a comprehensive proposal to the US Department of Education Title VI program, as we seek to renew our designation as a National Resource Center. We anticipate hearing results of the competition in September. If funded, the grant could bring in up to $2.5 million over the next four years to support additional research, teaching, and outreach projects as well as Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students.

As usual the EUC will use some of the funding from our EUCE and Title VI grants to invite new competitive proposals from UI faculty and students, as well as off-campus scholars and educators. The EUC has just released a Call for Grant Applications for research, conference travel, and other activities focused on expansion of knowledge and engagement with the EU. Deadlines for the first sets of competitions are coming up in September. We encourage you to check out the details and get your applications started. 

Even as the EUC continues its efforts to renew and maintain its traditional flows of grant funds and to distribute these resources to partnering units and affiliates, we are always seeking to grow our financial base in ways that will support the UI and EUC missions and the interests of our faculty and students. To that end, we welcome inquiries about possible collaboration on new grant opportunities and can provide various types of support for applications to sponsors outside the university. We welcome your ideas and interest in such cooperation, and invite you to contact us at EUC to discuss opportunities you may wish to pursue.

Together with our highly energetic faculty, the EUC staff has been busy planning an exciting array of lectures, conferences, movies, and more for the academic year. The Center will be hosting lectures on Fridays at noon. Marquee talks like the EUCE Directors Lecture Series, Larry Neal Prize for EU Scholarship lecture, and Scholars-in-Residence speaker series are planned for this fall. We welcome suggestions—and self-nominations—for speakers to deliver Friday noon lectures, so please let us know your ideas. The Center’s programming this year will also feature special interactions with the European diplomatic corps through EU Day and similar events, and our annual Regional Faculty Working Conference in EU Studies in Chicago in January. Look for updates in forthcoming e-Weekly issues and on the EU Center web site, and make your plans to participate.

A standing goal of the EU Center is to foster cooperation with institutions in Europe and with scholars that share interests in EU studies, and one of the ways we do that is by inviting applications to our Scholars-in-Residence program. We are excited to announce the following visiting scholars to EUC, who will be coming at various stages during the academic year: Bart Rokicki (University of Warsaw); Patricia Minacori (Université Paris Diderot); Renata Dombrovski (University of Rijeka, Croatia); and Michelle Frasher (Fulbright-Schuman Scholar). We will share additional information about each of these distinguished scholars and post profiles of their background and interests on our web site soon. Please join us in welcoming them to the UI and Urbana-Champaign. We will announce the next competition for EUC visiting scholars for 2015-16 residency in the spring, and as always we encourage inquiries and applications both from prospective visitors and their collaborators here at the UI.

Many of you already keep up with the Center and the latest EU news through our Facebook page, EUC Blog, and Twitter feed. Our e-weekly newsletter will continue to highlight selected contributions to these social media. We also invite you to join our LinkedIn group, which allows EUC affiliates to stay connected and keep up with each other’s professional developments, and to follow us on Pinterest

As we look ahead to the upcoming year, the Center will continue to serve as a hub for research, teaching, and public engagement on the EU and transatlantic relations. We plan to spend this year focusing on developing new curricular and academic programs, including prospects for new degree majors and minors in EU studies at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and enhancing the footprint of Illinois at European partner universities. A key goal is to cooperate with other units on campus that share our interests in expanding the range of opportunities for students interested in the EU, so we look forward to engaging in dialogue about ways to achieve those objectives. Please feel welcome to share your ideas with us about how we can best serve that mission. In the mean time, we wish all of the EU Center’s many friends a productive and stimulating year to come!

- Anna Stenport, Director
- Matt Rosenstein, Senior Associate Director
- Sebnem Ozkan, Outreach Coordinator



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Post-War Kosovo and the International Community

This post was originally published on Diplomatist Online in July 2014.

Even though it is undeniable that in its current state, Kosovo continues to require the presence of the international community, robust international presence in public administration and reform must be scaled back to allow strengthening of local ownership of institutions, maintains Christopher Jackson
Kosovska Mitrovica Bridge
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It has been 15 years since a NATO bombing campaign ended the decade of ethnic struggle in the
former autonomous Yugoslav province of Kosovo. The revocation of the participatory and educational rights of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority eventually digressed into a guerrilla conflict that became an outright civil war after a calamitous attempt by the Serbian Interior Ministry (MUP) and the Serbian Army (VJ) to capture Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader Adem Jashari, which resulted in the death of 63 ethnic Albanians. Under the authority of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199, US General Wesley Clark directed a campaign of airstrikes against MUP and VJ targets in both Kosovo and Serbia. Initially, the controversial air campaign provided cover for Slobodan Milošević’s government to escalate its own ethnic cleansing campaign underway in Kosovo. Sites of Albanian heritage were razed and Albanian families were forcibly displaced or executed. Hundreds of thousands sought refuge in neighbouring Albania or Macedonia. Eventually, General Clark’s campaign dislodged Milošević’s security forces and effectively ended Serbian dominion over the province of Kosovo.

In the wake of the Milošević regime’s ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population, it was determined that Kosovo could not return to the control of Serbia. The Serbian government in Belgrade had denied a population the right to self-determination and failed to guarantee its citizens’ basic human rights, including life and security. UN Security Council Resolution 1244, passed after the conclusion of the conflict in 1999, placed Kosovo under the authority of the United National Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). This unpopular administration, with the power to govern autonomously, would be the first actor in a prolonged period of international involvement.

The UNMIK administration ended with the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo in February 2008, not formally recognised by the United Nations, and was replaced by a two-year period of supervised independence. However, 15 years since the cessation of the war with Serbia and six years since the declaration of independence, Kosovo remains an international protectorate. The international community continues to act in a hands-on fashion with tangible impact in all areas of Kosovo’s public affairs, including economic development and social relations, but most prominently in government administration.

Towards a Sustainable, Multi-Ethnic Society

Strong international involvement in government administration is a double-edged sword. Kosovo is actively being guided in the direction of modernisation and Europeanisation with the end goal of accession to the European Union. This has included the writing of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo itself, which was drafted from the comprehensive proposal by UN Special Representative and former Finnish President, Marti Ahtisaari. The Ahtisaari Plan, as it is known, included the necessary provisions for Kosovo’s independence as a sustainable, multi-ethnic society. There is a disproportionately high representation of minorities in the Assembly of Kosovo. The ethnic Serbs are guaranteed a minimum 10 seats out of 120 (roughly 8% of seats for a population constituting less than 5% of the total), regulations in the representation of women, and the decentralisation of municipalities.

The decentralisation process was to be carried out in accordance with the Council of Europe Charter on Local Self-Government, and was overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Initially rejected by Serbian authorities in 2004, the decentralisation project, which included the creation of six Serb majority-municipalities, began in 2009. UNDP was responsible for the training of municipal authorities and creation of municipal-level administrations, including municipal cadastral offices. The success of this project is a product of the dialogue between officials in Belgrade and Prishtina, which has been stably facilitated by the European Union. Currently in a stage of political dialogue, it has already yielded results. As per an agreement reached on April 19, 2013, Serbian MUP (Interior Ministry)-trained officers were incorporated into the Kosovo Police in Northern Kosovo. Better trained and better trusted by Northern Kosovo Serbs, this EU-facilitated agreement has tangibly benefited the rule of law. And prior to the political dialogue currently being facilitated, which commenced in October 2012, the EU had facilitated a year of technical dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. This resulted in seven conclusions in the process of implementation on civil registry, freedom of movement, customs stamps, cadastral records, university diplomas, regional representation and cooperation and integrated border/boundary management.

The Flip Side of International Involvement

However beneficial all of this has been to the advancement of Kosovo as a country, the other side to the international community sword has stunted the internal development of Kosovo. Heavy-handed international involvement has prevented the local ownership of public institutions and allowed for the entrenchment of neo-patrimonial practices in public administration. As a result, trust is lacking in local domestic institutions, as change is a product of international prescription rather than democracy. This is nowhere more evident than in the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX KOSOVO). The EULEX structure is divided into two separate divisions – strengthening and executive – with the strengthening division devoted to increasing the capacity of local authorities, while the executive division handles rule of law functions including prosecution, judiciary, and policing. While the new EULEX mandate passed this year and valid through 2016, places more of a focus on the strengthening of local counterparts, EULEX still maintains a strictly executive presence in the Serb-dominated North and the divided city of Mitrovica. Here judiciaries and prosecutions are strictly international, despite the efforts of the Kosovo Judicial Institute to integrate Serb judges. EULEX still actively practices hard policing, while also maintaining two formed units – one for riot intervention and one for breaching.

While on one hand, the presence of EULEX (and OSCE advisors prior) has aided in the development of a well-regarded police force, and shielded rule of law organs from potential political interference, it has also decreased public trust in such organs through its prolonged presence. Upon deployment, EULEX pronounced its aims of pursuing high-level corruption and organised crime as well as neutrally approaching ethnic war crimes, goals for which the public had high hopes. The failure to produce results on such pronounced goals during its prolonged mandate has resulted in a plummeting of public opinion about the rule of law and a perception of EULEX and local organs coexisting in corruption and ineptitude.

Reception in Northern Kosovo is another story. Still a beacon of robust ethnic division, only recently did the Serb majority municipalities in the North abandon their parallel structures and accept participation in the decentralised Kosovo system – at Belgrade’s urging. Despite this, the Ibar River, running through the mining city of Mitrovica, remains a formal ethnic divide, with the city’s main bridge having been barricaded for years. Much of the Serbian population north of the Ibar continues to reject Prishtina’s reach. Disdain for EULEX limits its capabilities and necessitates pugnacious policing tactics, usually involving armoured vehicles and long-barrelled weapons, the practice of which compounds the disdain for its presence. Ultimately, its presence in Northern Kosovo is delaying the acceptance and local ownership of the rule of law, a delay that has fostered increased criminal activity, not necessarily along ethnic lines.

Delaying local ownership by prolonged international involvement is not a phenomenon strictly characteristic of the field of rule of law. It is evident in other sectors of public administration as well, including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises. The privatisation process, overseen by the EU since the UNMIK administration, has been slow and largely unsuccessful, and has become a rich source of corruption. More damaging, however, is the shielding and legitimacy the international community has provided for Kosovo’s political elites. The protection afforded them in the interest of stability, which includes the dialogue with Serbia, has allowed time for neo-patrimonial and corrupt practices to become entrenched in the government, especially in the field of public procurement. Despite abundant reports of corruption at the highest levels, cases are rarely pursued and rarely closed against high-ranking government officials.

The international community has furthermore been responsible for legitimising any possibly illegitimate political elites. The 2010 elections in Kosovo, the first since independence, are widely believed in Kosovo to have been fraudulent. Strongholds of support for the victorious Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) recorded voter turnouts as high as 95 percent, while concerns arose about inadequate polling facilities, security, and consistency of voter registration lists. Despite such irregularities and inadequate provisions in the constitution to deal with them, the international observers declared the election legitimate. Such statements as US Vice-President Joe Biden’s labelling PDK Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi as ‘Kosovo’s George Washington’, have further lent international legitimacy to Kosovo’s political elite. And this coupled with the common practice of political allegiance to former KLA commanders, and heroes in the public eye, such as Thaçi and other notable political elites Ramush Haradinaj and Fatmir Limaj has fostered a system of political impunity. Local authorities are deterred from pursuing cases against such elites due to the unconditional wartime allegiances, and cases brought by international authorities result in mass public outcry.

Impasse in Kosovo Assembly

The current inability of the Kosovo Assembly to form a government is a product of these practices. Multiple arrests of former KLA commander and Minister of Transport, Fatmir Limaj, at politically sensitive times since 2010 prompted his split with ruling PDK in February, the party in which he had served as the vice-chairman. Mr Limaj himself had stated the political nature of the cases brought against him and had the support of other officials including one parliamentarian from the self-determination movement Vetevendosje, who stated in an interview that Limaj was the victim of the ‘elimination of the Prime Minister’s political opponents’. Joining Mr Limaj was sitting chairman of the assembly Jakup Krasniqi, whose claims of tyrannical party dealings within PDK had driven him out. Together Limaj and Krasniqi formed the Initiative for Kosovo (or NISMA), taking with them six members of the assembly and roughly five percent of the popular vote, and bolting themselves to PDK’s opposition.

Without a PDK voting majority, the assembly was unable to agree on the issue of a national defence force, resulting in the call for a snap election in early June. Unable to form a coalition out of this election, PDK remains just a plurality, while its opposition, comprised of vastly differing parties remains unable to form a coalition of its own on conflicted ideological grounds. The Kosovo Assembly is at an impasse. Consequently, the current dysfunction in the Government of Kosovo highlights the inability of democracy to naturally exist in the political atmosphere that has been fostered. Years of uncouth dealings, shielded and legitimised by the international community, has resulted in the rift in the controlling party, while it was the neo-patrimonial, semi-tribal allegiances to ex-KLA commanders and their public impunity that magnified this rift.

It is undeniable that in its current state Kosovo continues to require the presence of the international community. Having never possessed a sufficient economy, it remains dependent upon its neighbours for imports, while it likewise remains dependent upon such Western European firms as Raiffeisen, BNP Paribas, and Sigal to form its financial sector. The presence of KFOR remains a necessity to deter any resurgence of ethnic violence such as the one it suppressed in 2004, and the more recent bout this year targeting the barricade in Mitrovica. Robust international presence in public administration and reform, however, must be scaled back to allow strengthening of local-ownership of institutions. The EU already has in place Instruments for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPAs), which aim to strengthen rule of law capacity through twinning – embedded training, consultation, and advising in local institutions. This model of international development must be allowed to expand broadly as EULEX is reduced over its next two-year mandate, and be allowed to expand into other fields including national governance and international relations. Deprived of the ability to function without international scaffolding propping it, Kosovo as a state and its government cannot be globally accepted as legitimate.

Christopher Jackson is a Graduate Assistant at the European Union Centre at the University of Illinois, USA.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

European Union Center at the University of Illinois Awarded Renewal of EU Center of Excellence Grant

Champaign, IL, August 22, 2014—A newly funded initiative at the University of Illinois will examine the potential effects of a transatlantic free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the European Union and United States, take Illinois students to the Arctic circle to learn about the impacts of climate change, and foster research collaborations on comparative studies of race and education in Europe and the U.S. These are just a few of the innovative projects that will be made possible through a new grant to UI.

The Delegation of the European Union to the United States has awarded the University of Illinois’ European Union Center (http://www.euc.illinois.edu) a renewal of the prestigious EU Center of Excellence research and teaching grant for academic year 2014-2015. Led by Drs. Anna Stenport, Matt Rosenstein and Sebnem Ozkan, the EU Center (EUC) coordinates an interdisciplinary network of University of Illinois faculty and research centers to expand research, outreach and course development related to EU Studies across the Illinois campus, with regional and global partners, and through a comprehensive digital media presence.

The Delegation of the European Union to the United States periodically holds an open competition in which universities compete for a financial award intended to enhance European Union studies. Centers must demonstrate high quality teaching, research, and regional outreach programs on EU and EU-U.S. topics, and propose novel and ambitious enhancements to existing programs. The EUC has held the Center of Excellence designation since 2011.

In 2014-2015, the EU Center at UI will use the 95,000 euro (approximately $130,000) grant to build on its already substantial profile by developing new research and teaching initiatives in three thematic areas seeking to address global challenges by drawing on world-renowned Illinois expertise. “EU Responses to Environmental Challenges,” led by professors Jody Endres (Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences), Allison Anders (Geology), Mark Safstrom (Scandinavian Studies and Germanic Languages and Literatures) and Sara Bartumeus (Architecture), approaches environmental policy challenges from a variety of perspectives. “Adapting to Change in the EU and in EU-US Relations: Integration, Culture, and Identities,” led by professors Helaine Silverman (Anthropology), Adrienne Dixson (Education Policy, Organization and Leadership), George Gasyna (Slavic Languages and Literatures), and Ben Lough (Social Work), seeks to understand educational, humanitarian, and cultural issues of the EU. Finally, “Transatlantic and EU Politics, Policy, and Security,” led by professors David Bullock (Agricultural and Consumer Economics), Barry Pittendrigh (Entomology), Kostas Kourtikakis (Political Science), Stefanos Katsikas (Linguistics and Modern Greek Studies), Joseph Clougherty (Business), and Verity Winship (Law), explores the nuances of politics, policy and the agricultural trade and business environments within the context of the evolving EU. These projects advance EU and transatlantic studies in signature Illinois ways: interdisciplinarily, innovatively, and inclusively. The total project cost is 221,957 euros (approximately $300,000) and will be further supported by an institutional match from UI.

To maximize the impact of the proposed research, teaching, and outreach endeavors, the EUC and partnering faculty will organize four-speaker series addressing topics related to the three thematic areas. In addition, the EUC will organize five signature outreach events, including its marquee event EU Day, a summer study tour to Brussels, the Transatlantic Educators Dialogue for K-12 teachers in the US and EU, and the Euro Challenge competition for high school students. The EUC will issue competitive campus-wide calls for research and travel grants for both students and faculty, complementing other supported research projects by visiting Scholars-in-Residence from Europe and Regional EU Scholars Sara Hall and Petia Kostadinova from UI Chicago, Joyce Mushaben from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and James Van der Laan at Illinois State University. Curricular projects will see to the development of five new courses, an EU studies undergraduate minor, a combined BA/MA program in an EU language with EU studies, and, at Illinois State University, an undergraduate degree in European Studies.


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