Total Pageviews

Friday 25 May 2018

Bosnia and Herzegovina: What’s happening now… and what’s next?

On 23 May 2018, SEESOX hosted Valentin Inzko (High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina). Discussants were Richard Caplan (Linacre College) and Jessie Hronesova (Aktis Strategy Ltd), with David Madden (St Antony’s College) chairing.

Inzko discussed the past and the future of the country, focusing on the role of international actors in Bosnia, their past achievements and future potential, and the pervasive role of corruption, captured institutions, civil society, the poor economy and the rise of extremism in the country.

Aiming to draw lessons for other contexts, Inzko reviewed the main obstacles international actors have dealt with in Bosnia both during his time in office (since 2009) and before, stressing particularly the lack of political will among the incumbent political elites to implement reforms, and the state of the rule of law, of reconciliation and of the economy. He stressed the unprecedented progress made in the first post-war years and the achievements of the office under Paddy Ashdown, implementing most of the state-building reforms by 2006 (e.g. one army, judiciary, tax system, flag&anthem). Despite the limitations of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which created a very complex and cumbersome state, the first ten years provided hope. However, the following period had only demonstrated the extent of the frozen conflict in the country and how ”local ownership” in Bosnia had mutated into state capture. Despite the vast amount of external support and funding, the peace that exists in Bosnia is far from secure and entrenched – instead, Bosnia remains a socially fractured state where the achievement of long-term societal peace may take generations. 

Monday 7 May 2018

6th Annual Ambassadors’ Forum

On 3 May, SEESOX hosted its annual Ambassadors’ Forum at St Antony’s College, Oxford. This was the sixth in the series: in the well-established tradition of inviting to Oxford and presenting its work to all the diplomatic missions from the region of South East Europe in London. This year the working lunch was attended by nine Heads of Mission, two Deputy Heads of Mission and one First Secretary and the SEESOX group.

SEESOX briefed on the main themes which it addressed during the academic year 2017-2018, concentrating in particular on EU integration and the European Commission’s new strategy for the Western Balkans, the region’s geo-political challenges, the Berlin Process and the political economy of the region, including the impact of Brexit and other macro-economic challenges. The Bulgarian Ambassador briefed on the priorities for the Presidency and the Sofia Summit on 16/17 May, with the focus on the Western Balkans, and the themes of connectivity, regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations. There was general round table discussion of these issues, and on the forthcoming summit meetings in July (Berlin Process in London, and NATO in Brussels). Our Forum discussed the future of the Berlin Process, the meaning of the London Summit and what messages this gives now that the UK is leaving the EU, especially regarding a range of security concerns. 

Friday 4 May 2018

Greek-Turkish tensions: Impending Conflict?

On Monday 30 April 2018, a panel discussion on ‘Greek-Turkish tensions: Impending Conflict?’ took place in the European Studies Centre. The panellists talked about the present tense climate in Greek-Turkish relations, potential risks for escalation, and related wider geopolitical considerations in the region. David Madden (SEESOX) chaired the session, Ezgi Basaran (SEESOX) began with an overview of recent developments in Greek-Turkish relations, Othon Anastasakis (SEESOX) talked about the Greek context, Mehmet Karli (SEESOX) presented the Turkish perspective, Katerina Dalacoura (LSE) spoke about relevant developments in the Middle East, Yaprak Gürsoy (Aston University) focused on the role of NATO and the US, and Kalypso Nicolaidis (SEESOX) ended with some final comments on the probabilities of conflict.

Basaran spoke about the Greek-Turkish tensions that began on 15 July 2016, with the eight Turkish soldiers who landed at the Alexandroupolis airport the day after the attempted coup in Turkey, asking for asylum from Greece. Turkey sought their extradition, which the Greek Supreme Court denied. On 7t December 2017, the first official visit by a Turkish president to Greece in six decades took place. However, in 2018 relations between the two countries worsened, with numerous incidents in the Aegean, and further escalated with the imprisonment of two Greek soldiers after they got lost and crossed into Turkish territory. She stressed the point that tensions with Greece are not high on the public discourse agenda and although it is hard to guess how things will turn out, Erdogan would not gain very much in domestic politics if there were an escalation in the crisis. She added that in Greece a considerable number of Golden Visas are given to Turks.