Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




The Balkans on Tenterhooks

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Please join the Harriman Institute for a roundtable discussion on current events in the Balkans, moderated by professor Tanya Domi (SIPA/Harriman Institute).

This discussion is situated at a momentous time of political strife that cuts across the Western Balkans region against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Front burner issues include a precarious Bosnia and Herzegovina that manages to muddle through one crisis to another without improving conditions in politics, while fending off encroachments from Zagreb and Moscow, and corrosive acts by the Serbian leadership. Not to be outdone, the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue has spiked into hostilities over license plates at the Serbia-Kosovo border. EU Enlargement has been frozen for the time being for North Macedonia and Albania but they should “be brought closer to the EU,” said Angela Merkel during her farewell tour of the region. Brain drain and corruption has afflicted every state of the former Yugoslavia, including Croatia, the newest EU member state. No politician seems to have a plan for how to keep the skilled and educated class of Balkan citizens employed at home. The rise of Russia and China looms large in the region, neither advancing democracy, and both have played outsized roles in Montenegro’s internal affairs. Turkey’s interesting relationship with both Serbia and Bosnia cuts in multiple ways politically. One thing is for sure: the illiberal set of Balkan politicians talk the same language— “let’s stay in power.” Tune in to hear our roundtable of experts address these issues and more.



Kurt Bassuener, co-founder and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council
Nikola Burazer, programme director, Centre for Contemporary Politics in Belgrade
Akri Çipa, foreign policy expert and consultant in Tirana, Albania
Ljubomir Filipović, political scientist and activist from Montenegro
Leon Hartwell, Acting Director of the Transatlantic Leadership Program, Center for European Policy Analysis
Ivana Jordanovska, former advisor to the Prime Minister of North Macedonia; PhD student at the University of Southern California
Besa Luci, co-founder and chief editor, Kosovo 2.0
Tena Prelec
, Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), University of Oxford
Ivana Stradner, Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

Moderator: Tanya Domi, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia SIPA; Harriman Institute Associated Faculty



Kurt Bassuener is co-founder and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council, a Berlin-based think-tank. He received his PhD from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland for his dissertation “Peace Cartels: Internationally Brokered Power-Sharing and Perpetual Oligarchy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia.”


Nikola Burazer is the programme director at the Belgrade-based Centre for Contemporary Politics and the executive editor at European Western Balkans. He holds an MA in Nationalism Studies from the Central European University and a BA in Political Science from the University of Belgrade.



Akri Çipa is a foreign policy expert and consultant in Tirana, Albania. His areas of interests include regional cooperation in the Balkans, EU enlargement, security issues, and democratization processes. Çipa holds a Master of Science in Conflict Resolution from Columbia University in New York.His work and has been published in The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, Balkan Insight, Euractiv, Brussels Times, and more.



Ljubomir Filipović is a political scientist and activist from Montenegro. He works as a consultant and analyst for different governmental, non-governmental and private institutions. He is the leader of the “May 21st” Civic Initiative in Montenegro and previously served as a Deputy and Acting Mayor of Budva and Political Advisor to Members.



Leon Hartwell is the Acting Director of the Transatlantic Leadership Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). His research interests include conflict resolution, genocide, transitional justice, diplomacy, democracy, and the Western Balkans.



Ivana Jordanovska is pursuing her PhD in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California, where she focuses on the interplay of surveillance, democratization and foreign policy. She previously worked as an advisor to the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy; and as a Fulbrighter she earned her MA in International Relations from New York University in 2020.


Besa Luci is co-founder and chief editor of Kosovo 2.0. As a multilingual magazine publishing in Albanian, English and B/C/S, since 2010 K2.0 has created a space for a different and necessary discussion full of political, social and cultural commentary and reportage.



Tena Prelec is a Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, where she works on money and reputation laundering. Her foremost geographic focus is on the Western Balkan region, including as a Fellow of CAS SEE, University of Rijeka, a Region Head at Oxford Analytica, a Research Associate at LSEE-Research on South Eastern Europe (LSE), and a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group.


Ivana Stradner is a Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where her research broadly focuses cybersecurity and Russian hybrid warfare. Before joining AEI, Dr. Stradner worked as a visiting scholar at Harvard University and a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt School of Law.





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