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Balkans Backwards and Forwards: 25 Years After Dayton

A quarter of a century ago – in the oddly sterile setting of the Dayton air force base, Ohio – the worst of the wars of Yugoslav secession was finally shut down. By late 1995 over three years of war in Bosnia had killed over 100,000 people; unleashed campaigns of mass rape and genocide; and destroyed a vibrant multi-cultural society. A better future finally beckoned for the Balkans.

Late 2020 seems high time to take stock of how that future actually unfolded. The Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews is therefore proud to host an ambitious month-long series of online discussions. These will gather together a unique cast of leading Balkan experts to discuss the challenges for the region: past, present and future.

1995 represented a high noon for western liberal triumphalism. 25 years on, though, the mood is distinctly darker. As western democracies themselves begin to look more polarised and dysfunctional, the lessons to be learnt from the fate of the Balkans only grow in importance. ‘Balkans Backwards and Forwards’ represents a timely set of discussions: and a necessary one.


Panel members from the Democratization Policy Council and Eurothink came together to create the report Sell Out, Tune Out, Get Out, or Freak Out? on understanding corruption, state capture, radicalization, pacification, resilience, and emigration in Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia. 

Allan Little Keynote Address

BBC Journalist Allan Little delivers the Keynote Address to the Balkans Backwards and Forwards events series hosted by Handa CSTPV and the University of St Andrews.

Dr Tomasz Kamusella

Reader, School of History, University of St Andrews: Todor Zhivkov’s Ethnic cleansing of Bulgaria’s Turks and Muslims – Lessons and Implications in the Neighbourhood

Sonja Biserko

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia: Muscle Memory of Non-alignment and the Persistence of the Greater Serbia Project

Peter Lippman

Author of Surviving the Peace: The Struggle for Postwar Recovery in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Grassroots Human Rights Campaigns in Bosnia-Herzegovina—Pushing the boundaries of institutionalized obstruction.

Dr Kurt Bassuener

CSTPV and Senior Associate, Democratisation Policy Council, Peace and Cartels – How Power-Sharing Peace Deals Enabled Perpetual Oligarchy in Bosnia and North Macedonia.

Dr Senada Šelo Šabić

University of Zagreb/Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO): A View from the Field – and a Proposal: Municipalities as the Elementary Building Blocks of Democracy in BiH and Beyond.

Jeta Krasniqi

Project Manager, Kosova Democratic Institute: Western Balkans: A transatlantic unfinished business?

Dr Tena Prelec

Research Fellow, Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford: Beyond the ‘geopolitical chessboard’ paradigm – self-serving narratives & corrosive capital in the Balkans.

Ljupcho Petkovski

Director, Stellar Research, Skopje: External Illiberals and the Lure of Reactionary Values

Bodo Weber

Senior Associate, Democratization Policy Council, Berlin: The Belgrade-Prishtina Dialogue – a case study in transatlantic policy malpractice.

Welcome Back to Geopolitics in the Balkans – Q&A

Dr. Ivan Stefanovski

Eurothink, Skopje: What happened to the “Balkan Spring?” Lessons from social movements’ failures and breakthroughs.

Dobrica Veselinović

Ne Davimo Beograd movement, Serbia: Constructing functioning civic governance in Serbia from the local.

Dr Valery Perry

author/editor of Extremism and Violent Extremism in Serbia: 21st Century Manifestations of a Historical Challenge (Columbia/Ibidem, 2019): Institutionalized corruption, malgovernance and injustice as drivers of radicalization and extremism – The Good, the bad, and the ugly.

Where Can We Go – Q&A and Closing Remarks