While some countries in the region face the possibility of a fresh start, others are still dealing with headaches caused by legacies of the past in various ways.

Fresh Start

Week in Review: New Starts and Old Headaches

A woman walks past electoral posters on her way to a poling station in Arce, Pri Velenju, Slovenia, 24 April 2022. Slovenia holds its Parliamentary elections to name a new Government and Parliament for next four years. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO BAT

Almost a fortnight ago, Slovenia held Parliamentary elections in what was a decisive race to shape the country’s future. The last two years have been difficult across much of the world, but even more polarising and destructive under the rule of Slovenia’s long-present right-wing leader Janez Jansa.

The Parliamentary elections saw a vote for change. The new Freedom Movement led by Robert Golob, not a new face in Slovenian public life, won a clear victory and mandate to form the next government. In his opinion piece for BIRN, Alem Maksuti argues that the opportunity that this presents must not be squandered.

Read more: Slovenia Mustn’t Waste This Opportunity for Fresh Start (April 29, 2022)

Energy Headache

Week in Review: New Starts and Old Headaches

NIS Offices in Belgrade, Serbia. Photo: BIRN

As the EU imposes its sixth round of sanctions against Russia – targeting the oil sector in particular – Serbia is becoming ever more painfully aware of just how dependent its energy sector is on Russia and Russian companies.

At the intersection of this dependency is NIS, the country’s only oil refiner and oil and gas extractor. Bought by GazpromNeft in 2008, the company has come close to being crippled by EU sanctions. Increasingly, there is talk of GazpromNeft divesting itself of its stake in the company. But how realistic is this at present?

Read more: Russian-Owned Oil Company Becomes Headache for Serbia (May 3, 2022)

Still in the Game

Week in Review: New Starts and Old Headaches

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a press conference at the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy, 31 October 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI

Almost two decades since coming to power, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces plummeting support, a sinking economy and no end of quarrels at home and abroad. Many – within Turkey and outside – are forecasting his demise in elections next year, as support for the opposition rises.

With this in mind, BIRN interviewed Dimitar Bechev, the author of Turkey under Erdogan: How a Country Turned from Democracy and the West, in order to hear his reflections on the ebbs and flows of Erdogan’s rule in Turkey. As he charts the course of Erdogan’s rise and evolution of his rule, Bechev warns that it may be too early to write Erdogan off.

Read more: Turkish Autocrat’s ‘Downfall Far from Imminent’: Dimitar Bechev (May 4, 2022)

Hemmed In

Week in Review: New Starts and Old Headaches

Soldiers of the unrecognised state of Transnistria take part in a military parade during the Independence Day celebration in Tiraspol city, 78 km East from Chisinau, Moldova, 02 September 2013. The Transnistria, Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic celebrated 23 years of self-styled independence on 02 September 2013. EPA/STRINGER

Separatist authorities in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria have been trying hard to stay out of the war between Russia and Ukraine. No small feat for a disputed territory hemmed in between Ukraine and Moldova, with Russian ‘peacekeepers’ thrown in.

While this plan was going remarkably well to begin with, some mysterious incidents in the breakaway territory are threatening to jeopardise it. On April 25, grenade launchers were fired at the Transnistrian Ministry of Interior building. This was only the most serious of a string of recent incidents. In his opinion piece for BIRN, Keith Harrington tries to make sense of what is going on in Transnistria.

Read more: Ukraine War is Spreading To Moldova’s Breakaway Transnistria Region (April 29, 2022)

Failed Venture?

Week in Review: New Starts and Old Headaches

A view of a small beach near Himara, Albania, 14 August 2007, where people enjoy the summer. EPA/ARMANDO BABANI

Back in 2015, the Albanian Parliament adopted a much trumpeted law to attract major investment projects, with foreign investments particularly in focus. Seven years later, what has it achieved?

According to most experts, the special investment law has had very limited success. To begin with, it has mostly benefitted local businessmen, rather than attracting large foreign investment projects. Moreover, most of these projects have been about short-term profits rather than long-term dividends.

Read more: Albania Investment Law Branded Tool for Clientelism (April 29, 2022)

Underwater Discoveries

Week in Review: New Starts and Old Headaches

Lin 3 site. Photo: Courtesy of Albert Hafner.

Ever heard of ‘pile dwellings’? If, as is likely, readers have not, they may be surprised to hear that their discovery under the waters of Lake Ohrid by a team of Swiss and Albanian archaeologists has generated much excitement within the archaeological community.

Discoveries made by archaeologists under the lake’s waters over the last few years have revealed evidence of the first farming communities which inhabited the area as far back as 14,000 BC. What connects these settlements to others in Europe?

Read more: Lost World: Prehistoric Houses Found in Lake Ohrid Thrill Archeologists (May 5, 2022)

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