Global Peace Rank – Balkans & Black Sea

June 14, 2009

The results of the Global Peace Index for 2009 suggest that the world has become slightly less peaceful in the past year, which appears to reflect the intensification of violent conflict in some countries and the effects of both the rapidly rising food and fuel prices early in 2008 and the dramatic global economic downturn in the final quarter of the year. Total 144 countries was analysed in 2009.

 

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is implemented by organization called Vision of Humanity, which groups together a number of interrelated initiatives focused on global peace.  As its mission Visions of Humanity Org.brings a strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peacefulness to humanity’s survival in the 21st century.

Indicators

Twenty-three indicators of the existence or absence of peace were chosen by the panel of experts, which are divided into three broad categories: measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization. Measures of ongoing conflicts include e.g. number of external and internal conflicts, estimated number of deaths from organized conflict (external/internal), level of organized conflict (internal) and relations with neighbouring countries.

Some reservations:

  • Vision of humanity, its expert panel and GPI are representing mainly western methodology, approach and values
  • GPI is based to data available of different indicators and as such a compromise

With these reservations I however find GPI both interesting and useful and anyway I haven’t seen  any better global survey.

The Rank

To the table below I have collected the GPI rankings for the Balkans and Black Sea region countries analysed in 2009.  In addition I have included to table also top-3 and worst-3 countries, the BRIC countries and USA. Rankings for the mentioned countries analysed in 2007 are also included for comparison. Countries most at peace are ranked first. A lower score indicates a more peaceful country. 

Country

Rank

Score

2009

2007

2009

2007

New Zealand

1

2

1.202

1.363

Denmark

2

3

1.217

1.377

Norway

2

1

1.217

1.357

Slovenia

9

15

1.322

1.539

Romania

31

26

1.591

1.682

Croatia

49

67

1.741

2.030

Bosnia and Herzegovina

50

75

1.755

2.089

Bulgaria

56

54

1.775

1.936

Greece

57

44

1.778

1.791

China

74

60

1.921

1.980

Albania

75

NA

1.925

NA

Moldova

75

72

1.925

2.059

Serbia

78

84

1.951

2.181

Ukraine

82

80

2.010

2.150

United States of America

83

96

2.015

2.317

Brazil

85

83

2.022

2.173

Macedonia

88

82

2.039

2.170

Montenegro

91

NA

2.046

NA

Azerbaijan

114

101

2.327

2.448

Turkey

121

92

2.389

2.272

India

122

109

2.422

2.530

Georgia

134

NA

2.736

NA

Russia

136

118

2.750

2.903

Somalia

142

NA

3.257

NA

Afghanistan

143

NA

3.285

NA

Iraq

144

121

3.341

3.437


Some developments in Balkans and Black Sea region

If compared the developments between 2007 and 2009 few highlights could be mentioned:

  • Slovenia is rising also in this research to global top-level – from place 15 to place 9 close to traditionally peaceful Nordic countries and outstriping most of sc “Western democracies” and the rest of world
  • Croatia has improved its index from 67 to 49, amasing 18 places
  • It seems that the civilicised border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia doesn’t have any effect in GPI ranking
  • The rise of Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the bigest in GPI and is partly explained via UNCHR statistics about improved situation of displaced persons.  The other sources – as recent U.S. Intelligence report – are not so optimistic and also I have earlier been worrying e.g. about rising radical Islam in BiH
  • Moldova and Ukraine have a bit too high ranking (75 and 82) from my point of view if compared to e.g. Georgia (134).  While conflict in Transdnistria still stays in frozen stage the events during last election are sign about latent tensions.  Ethnic tensions and coming Presidential elections are already making situation in Ukraine unstabil.

Peaceful Societies?

Peaceful societies are characterized as countries with the Following:

Social Structures

  • Well functioning governments
  • Good relations with regional neighbors
  • Low levels of corruption
  • High enrolment rates in primary education
  • Freedom of the pressRespect for human rights

Social Attitudes

  • Do not see their cultures as superior to others
  • Place a high value on tolerance
  • Believe in free speech and respect human rights
  • Believe military action should be limited and internationally sanctioned

The Drivers of Peace and Violence

As separate analysis a further statistical analysis was conducted to understand better the structure of peace. As causes of peace the rechearcers studied some 40 different potential factors – or “drivers” of peace and some notable findings were following:

Drivers of Peace:

  • Functioning of government
  • Freedom of the press
  • Extent of regional integration
  • Primary school enrolment ratio
  • Life expectancy
  • Women in parliament

Drivers of Violence:

  • Importance of religion in national life
  • GPD per capita
  • Hostility to foreigners /private property
  • Electoral process

Statistical approach shows some suprising phenomen such as free and fair elections can increase the likelihood of violence.  The researchers explain this to be possible if a well functioning government is lacking and the drivers of peace are absent.

Second surprise to me at least was a finding that for some nations a high GPD income provides the state with the tools of conflict such as weapons, large security apparatuses and military forces. However if the economic indicators of nation’s wealth are relatively evenly distributed, e.g. through educations and health, the society will be more peaceful.

More about peace/violence drivers in GPI DiscussionPaper.

Peace and global challenge

Global challenges, such as clima change, decreasing biodiversity, lack of fresh water and overpopulation, call for global solutions and these solutions will require co-operation on a global scale unparalleled in history. Peace is the essential prerequisite because without it the level of needed co-operation, inclusiveness and social equity necessary to solve these challenges will not be achieved.



Will EP elections bring a Hamas phenomenon inside EU?

June 5, 2009

EU is the largest single market in the world and the biggest donor in humanitarian aid, providing 56 percent of assistance to developing countries worldwide.   With this background it’s sad that the foreign affairs – CFSP, ESDP – is presumably the ‘weakest link’ of the EU.  Earlier I have criticized EU too much following agenda of U.S. foreign policy interests.  In addition  blocs such as Africa Group, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Arab Group, Non-Aligned Movement, have shown to be more united in the UN than the EU.

Inside EU the weakest link is the European Parliament.  In principle it can only slow common development policy designed in Commission and Council of Ministers.  The power still lies with national governments and the Europeans, public, is showing no will to place it anywhere else.

In going elections trend is a turning inward, a renationalisation of European politics, and a shift to protectionism.  While the turnout will probably be even lower than before my forecast about the result will be following:

  • those who have strong opinions are motivated for voting,
  • the share of those with strong opinions will be in EP bigger than in national parliaments
  • strong opinions in EU election are mostly channelled via euro-sceptics, nationalists, populist and right-wing parties
  • if UK Conservatives are leaving the biggest group in EP new coalitions new combination of ad hoc coalitions are possible
  • euroscepticism, previously a British and, to a lesser extent, a Scandinavian characteristic, is spreading even into the historical heartland of the EU, such as the Netherlands
  • also new left can gain support from mainstream social democrats

The bottom line will be more extremist politics and bye bye Lisbon Treaty, EU enlargement and cohesion.

Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, urged the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) “to launch an investigation into the financing and promotion campaigns of MEPs who will be elected this week to the new European Parliament and who espouse anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Roma, homophobic or other discriminatory platforms.

It totally possible that apathy towards political élites, low turnout and success of anti-Europeans, extremists etc will bring Hamas phenomenon inside EU.  Democratic election went wrong at least from pro-European perspective.  The gap between parliament and other EU institutions will be wider so what’s the response – maybe blockade of EP.

My forecast does not set great hopes on some nice ideas of common Europe.  Maybe this is not big loss anyway as diversity probably is one of rare European core values.


Balkans: Stop Mastermind – give Change to Locals

June 4, 2009

In March, Mrs. Clinton – FM/USA – commented in Brussels that the Obama administration was “determined to listen, advise (European Union countries) and through agreement arrive at wise solution to common challenges.” Among the “common challenges” was that the “Balkans is in danger of becoming part of the forgotten past.” She added the ominous view that “it will not be allowed for unfinished business to remain there.”

The US vice president’s trip in Balkans on May was again evidence of a lack of European leadership. Biden’s visit to Serbia, Kosovo, and, most especially, Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), was necessary due the reason that Europe is still not up to resolving its own security problems. Brussels has lost – if it sometimes had – its vision on Balkans, is divided with Kosovo case and lacks a viable policy toward BiH, leaving Washington to lobby most consistently for the steps that would bring the country into the EU.

Kosovo

A recent panel discussion on the Balkans presented by the Lord Byron Foundation at Toronto’s Royal Canadian Military Institute (RCMI), brought together experts on the subject. The panellists agreed that recent moves indicate “reinvigoration” of the former Clinton policies, whereby then-secretary of state Madeleine Albright worked assiduously to go to war on behalf of Kosovo. That was arguably, one of the greatest errors and miscalculations of the Clinton regime. The justification was that Serbs were intent on genocide of Kosovo Albanians when, in fact, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) provoked Serbian reaction, and fabricated massacres.

Since the war al-Qaida and Muslim extremists have flooded into the Balkans: Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia. The dreaded spectre of militant Islam in the heart of Europe has become a reality, enhanced by U.S. policy and now apparently revived by Obama.

Now Europeans realize they were hoodwinked into recognizing Kosovo’s independence on the pretence it would resolve problems and bring peace. Kosovo case was not unique, like it was introduced into playgrounds of international politics, it was a precedent to numerous separatist movement on globe that violence is the right mean to achieve political aims instead of international law.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia- Herzegovina (BiH) is a country whose chronic ethnic divisions have defied one of the most intensive, multilateral nation-building efforts ever attempted. Last year, for the first time since the war ended, there was anxious worry in Sarajevo about renewed conflict. Even if the parties never pick up arms again, BiH risks permanent stagnation, a quite plausible scenario that would put the substantial American investment — and continuing American interests — in BiH at risk. Instead of an inevitable EU member, Bosnia is more likely to remain an unwelcome, dysfunctional and divided country, with an aggrieved Bosniak (Muslim) plurality, a frustrated, increasingly defensive Serb entity, and an anxious, existentially threatened Croat population.  More in my article “BosniaCollapsing”.

Mujahedeen batallion in Bosnia War

Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the stage of transition from an international protectorate to one responsible for its own reform dynamics. Scepticism is growing about the EU’s capacity to facilitate such reform, when the reinforced EU Special representative (EUSR) should replace the Office of the High Representative (OHR).

Leaders of the three strongest national – Serb, Croat, Bosnian Muslim – parties, met on late 2008, after alarming negative EU reports, with the aim of reaching an agreement over several highly disputed issues that are crucial for country’s EU membership, as well as the closure of the Office of the High Representative, OHR. In only two hours, they reached a general agreement on a process of future constitutional changes, questions that would be covered in 2011 census, as well as regulation of the status of the Brcko district and state property. More here.

Deepening talks have continued after this sc Prud Agreement, which will strengthen federation elements while weakening central state power. The Agreement states that Bosnia-Herzegovina is a decentralized country with four—as opposed to the current three—territorial units, while the changes to the Constitution would be discussed in more detail at their future meetings.

The US Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit to Balkans on May 2009 represents the end of the “Dayton phase” of BiH and the beginning of the new phase of upgrading the Dayton Agreement or entering into a new agreement for BiH.

“Do Something…Anything”

Presidend Obama is now in a bit similar situation in Balkans than President Clinton during 90s. Quote from Time: Do Something…Anything, May 3rd, 1993:

All the new options, Clinton acknowledged, “have pluses and minuses,” and “all have supporters and opponents in Congress.” That is a large part of the President’s problem. He is getting plenty of advice, but it is not consistent. He is being pulled and tugged in several directions at once in a * field — foreign affairs — for which he does not have his own fingertip instinctiveness. He is being asked to lead where his allies in Europe are reluctant to follow. Clinton feels the strength of the moral argument for action echoing around Washington but is unwilling to start something without knowing how he will end it.

Selection of Mr. Obama brought hope to see some change with US Foreign policy in Balkan too. However when he selected Biden as his vice I went to deep doubts about his judgment. Selecting a man on the record for stating that “all Serbs should be placed in Nazi-style concentration camps” during Senatorial deliberations in 1999 over NATO aggression on Serbia, and that United States ought to conduct a fascist, “Japanese-German style occupation” of Serbia. If Mr. Obama needs help of this kind of redneck so bay bay change.

Some background to U.S. Balkan politics during 90s see e.g.“Beyond Tragedy: NATO’s Intervention in The Former Yugoslavia/Virginia University

My view

It’s said that The Balkans are a graveyard for foreign ambitions. This could be the “lessons learned” to both USA and EU.

Some more sustainable solutions could also be implemented in Western Balkans. Withdrawal of Kosovo recognition can open real negotiations between local stakeholders with unpredicted but possible compromise can end one frozen conflict. Facilitating new Dayton could solve other crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. With these actions U.S.and Russia together can also restore the authority of UNSC as ultimate forum of international conflict prevention.

The key question from my point of view is whether western Balkans really needs outside advice or not. The other option could be that instead to be the mastermind of Balkan policy the EU and USA should be facilitators for regional initiatives.


Votes for Sale in EP election?

June 1, 2009

A common utterance “money talks” is sometimes used also related to elections.One could suppose that if voting matters the parties or candidates are investing more to win elections.Normal marketing is sometimes not guaranteeing enough votes so in many societies more crude means are used such as election fraud/rigging, non-transparent and illegal political campaign and party financing.A simple vote buying maybe tells most about importance of elections. I wonder if there exists in any EU member state a barometer showing current price level of votes in EP elections, not only the official campaign costs but the unofficial price per vote.

Buying a polling station or enough of them could be one possibility which from my opinion is complicated to implement in EP elections. I was quite surprised while reading from BNP pages that some party really thinks this to be possible.A quote:

All British National Party members and supporters have been urged to be on the lookout for polling station fraud committed by corrupt officials who may seek to cast ghost votes in the election on June 4th, party leader Nick Griffin has announced. “We have received information that certain corrupt officials at some polling stations have devised a plan whereby they intend to vote on other people’s behalf towards the end of polling day,” Mr Griffin said. “Apparently the plan is to wait until late on polling day, and then to start crossing off names of people on the electoral register who have not yet voted and then voting on their behalf,” Mr Griffin said.

If buying votes via election organisation is difficult there is always possibility to buy them directly from electorate.In Finland there is a tradition to transport free people in rural areas from their home to polling station and maybe give them a cup of coffee and expect that they may vote “right way”;otherwise these voters would maybe stay home. Of course one can select the persons to which give free transport but it does not guarantee the “right” vote. During this EP elections I have impression that free transport services are lower level than before indicating the unimportance of coming election.

More effective way is to bay vote with money. In Finland I have not heard this to been done but in Balkans situation is a bit different or what to think about following quote from Bulgaria April 2, 2009:

Bulgarian MPs have passed a new set of punishments for anyone found to be involved in ‘vote buying’ after the second reading of a new bill Thursday. Bulgarian MPs have passed a new set of punishments for anyone found to be involved in ‘vote buying’ after the second reading of a new bill on Thursday. Anyone found to be involved in vote rigging or buying will now receive a jail term of 1-3 years and a fine of between BGN 1 000 and BGN 10 000. This new law includes anyone found threatening or conning voters during local or national elections. For more serious offences judges will be able to give a jail term of up to 6 years and a fine of up to BGN 20 000. The bill was passed soon after Bulgaria’s Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, called on all political parties to slam vote buying practices. “Vote buying is nothing new but it has recently entered court-rooms,” Velchev stated. He expressed concerns that this practice may cast a shadow over the upcoming general and EP elections in the summer.

Modern technology helps to monitor that buyer gets what (s)he is paying for.E.g. the voter takes a picture with mobile phone about voting slip, shows it to payer and gets money. In Balkans I have heard the sum vary between 5 to 50 euro per vote;I wonder what’s the value during these EP elections.

Vote buying is one kind of political corruption – misuse of political power for private gain for preserving or strengthening power, for personal enrichment or both.A candidate can use also indirect means get power for benefits like cronyism, clientelism, nepotism, patronage, insider trading, speed money, embezzlement or abuse of public property.These indirect ways are hard to proof.

For me it would be interesting to get feedback about different variations of vote buying during this EP elections – variations which are outside normal marketing, legal, sometimes even transparent campaigns.Even in overall this EP elections seems to have low market value there maybe are candidates who want to collect their million from Brussels and are using unusual means to get it.Learning these bad practices could help to improve countermeasures for next next EP quality in future.