Freedom 2010 in Balkans and Eastwards

May 1, 2010

“Freedom of the press, freedom of association, the inviolability of domicile, and all the rest of the rights of man are respected so long as no one tries to use them against the privileged class. On the day they are launched against the privileged they are overthrown.” (Prince Peter Kropotkin)

diagram by David Nolan

diagram by David Nolan

Different aspects of freedom are globally fundamental value of human rights, civil liberties or human development in general. Human development has been described in UNDP as “a process of enlarging people’s choices”. This in turn requires the freedom of people to make their choices and the opportunities to realize them. Rankings or ratings are one kind of (process) benchmarking in which organizations or in this case states evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice.

In this article I make a short update about political rights and civil liberties, freedom of press and some economical aspects in mostly Balkans and Black Sea regions. As sources (described next paragraph) I have used last reports available. Besides regions mentioned I have included to table also top and worst scores, U.S. as old superpower and BRIC countries as rising superpowers.

Sources of this story:

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is is the UN’s global development network. Since 1990, annual Human Development Reports have explored challenges including poverty, gender, democracy, human rights, cultural liberty, globalization, water scarcity and climate change. The Human Development Index (HDI)Table HDR 2009 measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. More: UNDP http://hdr.undp.org/en/

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world. Freedom House supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights. Founded in 1941 by prominent Americans organization’s viewpoint is mostly Anglo-American. Freedom House has been publishing its Freedom in the World reports since 1972 and it publishes also Freedom in the Press report since 1980. More: Freedom House

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Together with The Wall Street Journal they publish e.g. “Economic freedom index”. More: The Heritage Foundation.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent, international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation. WEF believes that economic progress without social development is not sustainable, while social development without economic progress is not feasible. WEF aims to be: the foremost organization which builds and energizes leading global communities; the creative force shaping global, regional and industry strategies; the catalyst of choice for its communities when undertaking global initiatives to improve the state of the world. WEF defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. World Economic Forum has published “The Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010” which gives an other viewpoint to economic freedom.

Reporters Without Borders is registered in France as a non-profit organisation and has consultant status at the United Nations. Reporters Without Borders is present in all five continents through its national branches. Reporters Without Borders: defends journalists and media assistants imprisoned or persecuted for doing their job, fights against censorship, gives financial aid to journalists in difficulty and works to improve the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones. Reporters Without Borders has fought for press freedom on a daily basis since it was founded in 1985.

Summary table of Freedom in Balkans, Black Sea and some comparison data

(Note: the order below is made according UNDP’s “Human development index”, in other categories order can be checked from ranks)

Human development index

(UNDP)

Freedom Status

(Freedom House) Political Rights/ Civil Liberties

Economic Freedom (WSJ/THF) & Competitiveness (WEB) Press Freedom (Reporters w. borders/Freedom House)
Rank

(↑..↓

2006)

Country ///

Name & Score

P R C L Status HF/WSJ Rank/Scr

WEB Rank/

Trend

RWB

Rank/ Score

FH Rank
1. Norway (0.971) 1 1 Free 37./69.4 14 +

1./0,00

1
13. ↓ U.S.A. (0.956) 1 1 Free 8./78.0 2 – 20./4.00 24
25. Greece (0.942) 1 2 Free 73./62.7 71 — 35./ 9,00 29
29. Slovenia (0.929) 1 1 Free 61./64.7 37 ++ 37./ 9,50 25
45. Croatia (0.871) 1 2 Free 92./59.2 72 — 78./ 17,17 85
61. ↓ Bulgaria (0.840) 2 2 Free 75./62.3 76 68./15,61 76
63. ↑ Romania (0.837) 2 2 Free 63./64.2 64 + 50./12,50 88
65. Montenegro (0.834) 3 2 Free 68./ 63.6 62 + 77./17,00 80
67. Serbia (0.826) 2 2 Free 104./56.9 93 — 62./ 15,50 78
70. Albania (0.818) 3 3 Partly Free 53./66.0 96 + 82./21,75 102
71. ↑ Russia (0.817) 6 5 Not Free 143./50.3 63 – 153./60,88 175
72. Macedonia FYR (0.817) 3 3 Partly Free 56./65.7 84 + 34./ 8,75 94
75. Brazil (0.813) 2 2 Free 113./ 55.6 56 ++ 71./15,88 88
76. Bosnia-Herzegovina (0.812) 4 3 Partly Free 110./56.2 109 – 39./ 10,50 97
79. ↓ Turkey (0.806) 3 3 Partly Free 67./63.8 61 + 122./ 38,25 106
NA Kosovo (under UN 1244) 5 4 Partly Free NA NA 75./ 16,58 108
84. ↑ Armenia (0.798) 6 4 Partly Free 38./69.2 97 111./31,13 146
85. ↓ Ukraine (0.796) 3 2 Free 162./46.4 82 — 89./ 22,00 108
86. ↑ Azerbaijan (0.787) 6 5 Not Free 96./58.8 51 + 146./53,50 172
88. ↓ Iran (0.782) 6 6 Not Free 168./43.4 NA 172./104,14 187
89. ↑ Georgia (0.778) 4 4 Partly Free 26./70.4 90 81./18,83 126
92. ↑ China (0.772) 7 6 Not Free 140./51.0 29 + 168./84,50 181
117. Moldova (0.720) 3 4 Partly Free 125./53.7 NA 114./33,75 144
134. India (0.612) 2 3 Free 124./53.8 49 + 105./29,33 72
182. Niger (0.340) 5 4 Partly Free 129./52.9 NA 139./ 48,50 151

Full reports and country analysis from each category can be found from related organizations – see sources above.

Some remarks

UNDP’s methodology includes besides data collection a serial of background seminars and regional and thematic events. Due heavy preparation process the report 2009 is based to oldest data mostly from years 2006-2008. The UNDP 2010 report will launch around the world this autumn and will have three parts. First, a systematic assessment of progress and setbacks in human development since the 1970s, in which we discuss what has been achieved, what seems to work, and what are the key gaps and constraints. The second part will revisit the concept of human development – and its measurement (including the Human Development Index) – and propose the enhancements needed to help policy-makers ensure that people are at the centre of development. In this light, the third and final part would highlight concrete implications for policy and development strategies, and outline recommendations for a new development agenda.

Freedom House’s report “Freedom in the World 2010” reflects developments that took place in the calendar year 2009. The full survey, including the individual country reports, will be available in late spring 2010. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions and 15 civil liberties questions. The political rights questions are grouped into three subcategories: Electoral Process (3 questions), Political Pluralism and Participation (4), and Functioning of Government (3). The civil liberties questions are grouped into four subcategories: Freedom of Expression and Belief (4 questions), Associational and Organizational Rights (3), Rule of Law (4), and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights (4).

Related to some disputed regions Freedom House ranks status of Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh as Partly Free, but South Ossetia and Transdnistria as Not Free.

WEF defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. The level of productivity, in turn, sets the sustainable level of prosperity that can be earned by an economy. In other words, more-competitive economies tend to be able to produce higher levels of income for their citizens. The productivity level also determines the rates of return obtained by investments in an economy.

Freedom House’s examination of the level of press freedom in each country currently comprises 23 methodology questions and 109 indicators divided into three broad categories: the legal environment, the political environment, and the economic environment. The 2010 report did note some changes in the region that includes Western Balkan countries. Improvements were noted in several countries, including Bulgaria and Ukraine, primarily due to fewer cases of physical attacks and harassment, as well as greater editorial and ownership diversity. Meanwhile, Armenia and Moldova both saw numerical gains as a result of reduced censorship and restrictions on news coverage. The score improvement for Serbia in 2009 reflected the fact that Kosovo was scored separately for the first time in this edition of the survey. Croatia’s score “fell from 38 to 40 due to the removal of and legal action against journalists covering war crimes, organized crime, and corruption. There was also less diversity due to rising concentration of private media ownership.”

Because freedom is so highly valued factor, there is constant debate over exactly what the word means. Disputes are often politically charged, and they are not likely ever to be completely resolved. James P.Young summarizes following:

Analysis of the idea is also complicated because it is impossible to consider freedom without taking into account related concepts such as democracy and constitutionalism, problems such as majority rule and minority rights, and the tension between liberty and equality. The American Declaration of Independence represents one of the climactic moments in the long development of the idea of freedom and arguably achieves universality, despite having grown out of the specific revolutionary situation in the colonies. Yet throughout their history, Americans have argued about how the principles found in the Declaration should be applied. For example, does the right to life rule out the death penalty?

(More e.g. in “A Short Historical Sketch on the Idea of Freedom” by James P. Young)

The bottom line

Democracy is a form of government that cannot long survive, for as soon as the people learn that they have a voice in the fiscal policies of the government, they will move to vote for themselves all the money in the treasury, and bankrupt the nation.”(Karl Marx)

While comparing different data it seems that there is some conflict between economic freedom and especially competitiveness and other political rights, civil liberties and press freedom. It remains to be seen whether present global and regional financial turmoil and environmental challenges will change the balance one way or the other.

We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure.”(Sir Karl Popper)

Related articles:

Balkans and Failed States Index (Jan. 2009/failed state index based on social, economical and political inducators)

Competitiveness of Balkans (Oct. 2008)

Freedom in Balkans (Jan. 2009/political rights and civil liberties. Democracy, economy, poverty, movement)


The Nabucco-South Stream race intensifies

November 15, 2009

The race between the two EU’s eastern gas pipelines is going on while next winter can again show some supply problems via Ukraine. South Stream got latest boost on 11th November 2009 as Russia’s Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Slovenian Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik signed an agreement on the passage of the South Stream gas pipeline across Slovenian territory. Same time shareholders in the Nabucco have started talks with two European top lenders over borrowing almost €1.5 billion for the pipeline’s construction; a €5.6 billion loan is needed for the construction first stage of the project and the shareholders have also started talks with two credit insurers. Besides loan Nabucco still desperately is searching gas for its planned pipe.

With South Stream Russia is looking a more reliable route for its gas exports to Europe as it bypasses Ukraine and Belarus, where price disputes have in the past led to gas shortages. EU Commission tries with Nabucco provide a supply of gas not subject to Russian control.


The competition


The competition over gas is coming harder. In my article “New Player in Caspian Sea Power Corridor” I described how China has came to game to take big share of Turkmenistan gas.

For contest between EU’s Nabucco and Russia’s South Stream China’s actions favor later. Today’s arrangements are securing gas for South Stream while Nabucco still is searching supply. It is more clear that Nabucco should be filled with Iraqi and/or Iranian gas and political aspects related to this may delay finding(private) investors and the implementation of project as whole. In bottom line while Russia is taking its part from old gas fields and China from old and new gas fields the Nabucco pipe still is more than half empty.

More about this comparison one may find from my post “EU’s big choice – Nabucco or South Stream?“.

Bulgaria?

From 2015 South Stream is scheduled to take gas into the EU via Bulgaria. A northern branch ends up in Italy via Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and eventually Austria. A southern route takes the gas through Greece and under the Adriatic Sea to Italy. With Slovenia Russia has all the necessary European partners for us to be able to complete its project. During Summer 2009 there was discussions if South Stream could pass Bulgaria. Russia however agreed on 6th August 2009 with Turkey about energy cooperation with South Stream and also development of Blue Stream pipeline between Russia and Turkey under Black Sea so South Stream has secured also an alternative route. After that the discussions between Bulgaria and Russia got a new boost.


Austria?

 

Austria has officially backed Nabucco even some of Austrian companies are also partners in South Stream. On 11th Nov. 2009 Russia and Austria had meeting. PM Putin said after talks with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann that they agreed to draft an agreement on cooperation in South Stream. Faymann said South Stream is in Austria’s interests and that Austria’s government had given a mandate to start negotiations two weeks ago. He said Nabucco and South Stream shouldn’t be viewed seen as competitors: “We believe that this is diversification as well as a chance to make the energy supply more secure,” Faymann said. More in CNBC news.

Bottom line


Russia made already on May 2009 a proposal including the South Stream gas pipeline to pump natural gas from Russia to the Balkans and onto Europe in a list of EU priority projects. The U.S./EU backed Nabucco project had been included in the list, but South Stream not yet. From my point of view I would like to see EU to change priority status from Nabucco to South Stream. Nabucco could still be kept alive in case to wait stabilisation in the Middle-East.

 


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.


Balkans and Failed States Rank

January 25, 2009

Different aspects of freedom, wider human rights and civil liberties, democracy, economical, social and other kind of development are hard to implement if the state is failing or already failed. If an outstanding problem occurs, such as food crisis or a devastating hurricane, the world’s weakest states are the most exposed when crisis strikes. In the Failed States Index, FOREIGN POLICY and The Fund for Peace rank the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away.

Founded in 1970 and now published by the Slate Group, a division of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC, in Washington, D.C., FOREIGN POLICY is the premier, award-winning magazine of global politics, economics, and ideas. Their challenging “mission is to explain how the world works—in particular, how the process of globalization is reshaping nations, institutions, cultures, and, more fundamentally, our daily lives.” (More here)

Failing State?

Failing state is defined by authors of index as follows:

A state that is failing has several attributes. One of the most common is the loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Other attributes of state failure include the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services, and the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.

The 12 indicators (used in Index/AR) cover a wide range of elements of the risk of state failure, such as extensive corruption and criminal behaviour, inability to collect taxes or otherwise draw on citizen support, large-scale involuntary dislocation of the population, sharp economic decline, group-based inequality, institutionalized persecution or discrimination, severe demographic pressures, brain drain, and environmental decay. States can fail at varying rates through explosion, implosion, erosion, or invasion over different time periods.

The twelve Indicators

The rank order of the states is based on the total scores of the 12 indicators. For each indicator, the ratings are placed on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest intensity (most stable) and 10 being the highest intensity (least stable). The total score is the sum of the 12 indicators and is on a scale of 0–120. Countries that have scores lower than 30 are categorized as Most Stable, countries that have scores more than 90 are considered as Critical, the scores between them indicates that a state is In Danger, Borderline or Stable.
The 12 indicators are divided into three groups and are following:

Social Indicators
1. Mounting Demographic Pressures
2. Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating
Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
3. Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia
4. Chronic and Sustained Human Flight

Economic Indicators
5. Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines
6. Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline

Political Indicators
7. Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State
8. Progressive Deterioration of Public Services
9. Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread
Violation of Human Rights
10. Security Apparatus Operates as a “State Within a State”
11. Rise of Factionalized Elites
12. Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors

The numbers above are correlating with columns in Failing State Index table below.

The Index

From original Failed State Index (more in original story ) I have selected following countries to my modified table:

  • Balkan states
  • Top 3 and Worst 3 in the world
  • U.S. as old superpower
  • BRIC countries as rising superpowers

An finally here is the Index:

Rank

State

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Total

177

Nor- way

2.0

1.6

1.0

1.1

2.0

1.8

1.0

1.3

1.5

1.0

1.0

1.5

16.8

176

Fin- land

2.6

1.6

1.0

2.1

1.9

2.0

0.9

1.2

1.5

0.9

0.7

2.0

18.4

175

Swe- den

3.2

3.0

1.3

2.0

2.1

1.2

1.0

1.2

1.4

0.9

1.0

1.5

19.8

161

U.S.A.

3.5

4.0

3.2

1.0

5.5

2.3

3.0

1.8

4.2

1.3

2.0

1.0

32.8

156

Slove- nia

4.0

1.7

3.4

3.5

5.2

3.0

3.2

3.5

3.5

3.0

1.1

2.0

37.1

135

Monte- negro

5.4

4.1

6.1

2.5

4.3

4.0

4.3

3.6

5.6

4.6

6.0

5.3

55.8

131

Bulga- ria

5.1

4.1

4.0

5.7

6.0

4.3

5.4

4.6

4.7

5.2

3.9

5.5

58.5

129

Croa- tia

5.1

6.3

5.7

5.0

5.5

5.3

4.4

4.1

4.5

3.9

3.9

5.7

59.4

128

Roma- nia

5.3

3.5

5.2

5.2

6.1

5.2

5.9

5.2

4.8

3.4

4.7

5.4

59.9

117

Brazil

6.3

3.3

6.1

5.0

8.8

3.7

6.2

6.0

5.6

7.1

4.9

4.6

67.6

112

Alba- nia

6.2

2.7

5.4

7.5

6.1

6.3

7.2

5.9

5.4

5.5

5.7

5.8

69.7

108

India

8.0

3.2

7.0

6.9

8.9

4.6

4.8

6.7

6.0

6.6

6.0

4.2

72.9

95

Mace- donia

5.4

4.6

7.4

7.0

7.4

6.0

7.6

5.1

5.3

5.8

6.6

6.4

74.6

72

Russia

7.0

5.4

7.5

6.5

7.9

3.7

7.9

5.9

8.7

7.0

8.0

4.2

79.7

70

Serbia

6.0

7.3

7.9

5.5

7.5

6.5

7.4

5.0

6.1

6.3

8.0

6.6

80.1

68

China

8.8

5.1

7.8

6.3

9.0

4.0

8.3

6.6

8.9

5.2

7.0

3.3

80.3

54

Bosnia

6.1

8.0

8.5

6.0

7.2

5.5

7.9

5.4

5.3

7.3

8.6

8.5

84.3

3

Zim- babwe

9.7

9.0

9.5

10.0

9.6

10.0

9.5

9.6

9.8

9.5

9.3

7.0

112.5

2

Sudan

9.0

9.6

10.0

8.8

9.3

7.3

10.0

9.5

9.9

9.8

9.9

9.9

113.0

1

Soma- lia

9.8

9.8

9.5

8.3

7.5

9.4

10.0

10.0

9.9

10.0

10.0

10.0

114.2

Final notice

This article – and statistics behind it – and my earlier article “Freedom in Balkans” are complementary to each other – same problems are viewed from different perspectives. However in general all rankings which I have quoted are representing more or less anglo-american point of view – its values and research methods. If rankings were made e.g. by some byzantine institute the results could be differ – the viewpoint and tradition for example regarding democracy are not one to one with western views. If these limitations are noted so I anyway think that discussion about findings in different countries could be valuable material for further development.


Freedom in Balkans

January 18, 2009

Different aspects of freedom are fundamental value of human rights in Balkans as well globally. While starting of a year it’s good time to check the near past and make some benchmarking. Rankings or ratings are one kind of (process) benchmarking in which organizations or in this case states evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice.

In 1st part of my “Freedom in Balkans” serial I make a short update about political rights and civil liberties.

Part 1 – Political Rights and Civil liberties

In my article “Freedom in Balkans” On September 2008 I wrote about the freedom ratings with political rights, civil liberties, religious and press freedom in Balkans. Now Freedom House released the findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World 2009, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties.The ratings reflect an overall judgment based on survey results and global events from Jan. 1st through Dec. 31st 2008.  In my earlier article I had one year older survey.  

The survey a year ago showed that only Kosovo province (as UN protectorate) fell to category not free;Albania, Macedonia (FRY), Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro were partly free category and Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Slovenia were in the best free category.

The situation remained the same during year 2008 so no state changed category.Inside the category occurred following two changes:

  • Bulgaria’s political rights rating declined from 1 to 2 (1 represents the most free and 7 the least free rating) due to backsliding in the government’s efforts to combat corruption and organized crime, which prompted the European Union to suspend substantial aid payments in July.
  • Macedonia had a downward trend –without number decline – due to increased harassment of and violence against political party members during the country’s June parliamentary elections, which domestic and international observers deemed the worst since independence.

So nothing radical happened during last year. The only peculiarity still is the result of Kosovo which is ranked as ‘not free’ and received scores the same as Sudan, Chad and Egypt in terms of political rights and civil liberties despite the fact that international community has been building democratic standards and human rights in its protectorate now over eight years.  If the result is this I hope that new EULEX mission will apply some lessons learned in this case.

More about methodology and global results from web sites of Freedom House.

Part 2 – Democracy

World Audit Org has been conducting sc. Democracy Audit since 1997.Their survey is concerned only with the criteria of democracy – which they hold to be Human Rights; Political Rights; Free Speech and Absence of Corruption. 150 nations, all those with populations in excess of one million are included.  Related to 1st part of my article serial Freedom in Balkans Democracy Audit gives an other point of view to the same topic.

World Audit brings together statistics and reports from respected agencies such as Freedom House, Transparency International, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and The International Commission of Jurists. From their work and data WorldAudit.Org present and update the World Democracy Audit.

With this background it is understandable that the results are quite comparable with those in my earlier articles – Part 1 and its earlier more comprehensive version .

As source I have used latest Democracy Audit of WorldAudit.Org.  From there I have selected following countries:

  • Balkan states
  • Top 3 and Worst 3 in the world
  • U.S. as old superpower
  • BRIC countries as rising superpowers

And here is the table (more compact version here)

Country/

Rank

Democracy

Press Freedom

Corruption

Overall Category

Denmark

1

2

1

1

Sweden

2

4

1

1

Finland

3

1

5

1

United States

15

14

15

1

Slovenia

19

28

21

1

Bulgaria

36

45

56

2

Croatia

45

47

47

3

India

48

46

67

3

Serbia

50

50

67

3

Romania

52

59

54

3

Brazil

53

56

62

3

Macedonia

59

65

56

3

Albania

64

70

67

3

Bosnia and Herzegovina

81

62

73

4

China

120

138

56

4

Russia

133

127

117

4

Uzbekistan

147

144

136

4

Turkmenistan

149

148

136

4

Myanmar

150

149

147

4

In Balkans Slovenia is again on its own top class, Bosnia-Herzegovina is in the last shake of the bag – alone because disputed territories such as Kosovo were not included. The rest of the Balkan countries are between them. Of course one should remember limitations like overvaluation of western perspective with these kind of surveys but anyway from my point of view these survyes are good tools for benchmarking, future planning and debate.

Part 3: Economy

Economic freedom is highly valued element especially in U.S. society and its imitators.Conservative politics claims that greater economic freedom generates opportunities for people, creates wealth and respect for human rights.In Nordic countries the approach is different and the economic freedom of one individual – human or company – can be limited if it limits other peoples freedom.However this study is based to traditional American conservative formula and everybody can value the output against that background.

The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute – a think tank – whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defence.For over a decade this Washington’s preeminent think tank has tracked economic freedom around the world with its main publication The Index of Economic Freedom.

The Heritage Foundation defines economic freedom as follows:

The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realized freedoms of movement for labour, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself. In other words, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, and that freedom is both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state.

The 2009 Index of Economic Freedom covers 183 countries and measures 10 separate components of economic freedom.To table below I have picked the Balkan countries and their scores with each of those measures and the picture is following:

Name

World Rank

O-   ver- all  Sco-   re

Busi- ness Free- dom

Tra-   de Free- dom

Fis-  cal Free- dom

Go- vern- ment Size

Mone- tary Free- dom

In-   vest- ment Free- dom

Fi-    nan-  cial Free- dom

Pro- perty Ri-    ghts

Free- dom From Cor-  rup- tion

La-   bour Free- dom

Albania

62

63.7

67.0

75.8

92.8

75.6

79.6

70.0

70.0

30.0

29.0

47.2

Bosnia -Herze-govina

134

53.1

59.9

77.2

71.8

37.6

79.0

50.0

60.0

10.0

33.0

52.2

Bulgaria

56

64.6

73.5

85.8

86.2

58.7

72.8

60.0

60.0

30.0

41.0

78.4

Croatia

116

55.1

59.9

87.6

68.7

31.7

79.0

50.0

60.0

30.0

41.0

43.4

Greece

81

60.8

78.7

80.8

66.5

46.3

78.8

50.0

50.0

50.0

46.0

61.2

Macedo- nia FRY

78

61.2

58.2

81.6

89.4

65.1

85.4

50.0

60.0

30.0

33.0

59.8

Monte- negro

94

58.2

68.7

80.2

89.1

45.3

78.9

40.0

50.0

40.0

33.0

57.2

Romania

65

63.2

74.9

85.8

87.0

70.0

75.0

60.0

50.0

35.0

37.0

57.1

Serbia

109

56.6

56.0

78.0

85.9

46.3

65.8

40.0

50.0

40.0

34.0

70.0

Slovenia

68

62.9

84.4

85.8

62.9

38.4

78.6

60.0

50.0

60.0

66.0

42.8

If the Overall score were 100-80 the country was defined to be Free, countries with score 79.9-70 were Mostly free, countries with score 69.9-60 Moderately free, countries with score 59.9-50 Mostly unfree and countries with score between 49.9-0 were defined as Repressed.So according The 2009 Index of Economic FreedomAlbania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia were Moderately free and the rest of Balkan countries were Mostly unfree.

Last autumn I wrote about competitiveness of Balkans referring “ Global Economic Competitiveness Report 2008-2009” of The World Economic Forum, which approaches economic freedom a bit wider angle. Their measures include e.g. health, education, public and private institutions, infrastructure and innovations so perspective is a bit more social than that of hard line conservatives. Anyway in report mentioned Slovenia was ranked as the most competitive economy in the Balkans with rank 42 out of 134 countries polled followed Croatia (61), Greece (67), Romania (68), Bulgaria (76), Serbia (85), Macedonia (89), Bosnia-Herzegovina (107) and Albania (108).

If compared the order between economic freedom and competitiveness the biggest difference are ranks of Croatia and Albania – almost opposite positions – so one could say that free economy does not necessary create high competitiveness and mostly unfree economy can sometimes be very competitive.

Part 4 – Poverty

Poverty stricken Bosnian Muslims search a garbage dump near their village of Visca.  The extreme winter low temperatures force people who live in poverty to resort to desperate measures to scrape a living Poverty stricken Bosnian Muslims search a garbage dump near their village of Visca. The extreme winter low temperatures force people who live in poverty to resort to desperate measures to scrape a living.

One can dispute which level of economic freedom can increase or decrease common welfare for all population but the fact is that poverty sure limits individuals political and human rights as well use of civil liberties.”Poverty” defined as an economic condition of lacking both money and basic necessities needed to successfully live, such as food, water, education, health care or shelter.The table lists countries by the percentage of the population living below the national poverty line — the poverty line deemed appropriate for a country by its authorities.

While studying poverty in Balkans I have used as source UNDP report accessed on Feb. 3rd 2008 and CIA’s The World Factbook, updated on July 24th 2008.  From there I have picked Balkan countries and Kosovo province figures and the outcome is here:

Country

UNDP

CIA

Year

Other

Year

Albania 25.4 25 2004 est. 25 2002
Bosnia-Herzegovina 19.5 25 2004 est. 20 2002
Bulgaria 12.8 14.1 2003 est. 13 2001
Croatia N/A 11 2003 N/A N/A
Macedonia FRY 21.7 29.8 2006 29.4 2007
Montenegro N/A 7 2007 est. N/A N/A
Romania 21.5 25 2005 est. N/A N/A
Serbia N/A 6.5 2007 est. N/A N/A
Province of Kosovo N/A 37 2007 est. N/A N/A
Slovenia N/A 12.9 2004 N/A N/A

National estimates are based on population-weighted subgroup estimates from household surveys. Definitions of the poverty line may vary considerably among nations. Thus, the numbers are not strictly comparable among countries.  However one could size up that poverty is serious problem in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania and Kosovo province (UNSC 1244 protectorate).

World of powerty

Bigger image from link

Part 5: Movement

Freedom of movement including traveling abroad or in one’s own country and selecting locations to live has also its own limitations in Balkans. If we exclude such restrictive factors as money, handicaps or imprisonment I could find three main categories for limited freedom of movement in Balkans. They are

  • Restricted moving back to original dwelling place
  • Restricted moving out from place of residence
  • Traveling abroad

Refugees and IDPs

This theme is of paramount importance in Balkans. Beginning 1991, political upheavals – such as the breakup of Yugoslavia – displaced millions of people. Officially one part of these people are refugees meaning that they have escaped to other country, one part is “internally displaced persons” (IDPs) meaning that they have escaped from their home village/-town but still are in the same country than before.

Movements

This kind of restricted moving back to original dwelling place is still – 10-16 years after Balkan Wars – biggest problem in Serbia with 326,853 refugees and IDPs. Bosnia-Herzegovina has 146,586 mostly IDPs, Greece 30,799 (mostly asylum seekers), Montenegro 24,822, Bulgaria 5,848, Croatia 7,826, Slovenia 4,408 (mostly stateless persons), Macedonia (FYR) 2,397, Romania 2,180 and Albania 101 (situation 31st March 2008).(Source UNCHR statistics 3rd June 2008).

From this link you can have full-scale of figure above.

Restricted moving out from place of residence

Limited moving out from home in one’s own country is usually not restricted by law or regulations – the limitations are real or fancied fears in one’s head. In Balkans this problem occurs most in Kosovo province.Albanians in Kosovo’s middle and southern parts are not familiar to travel northern Kosovo, Serbs in their enclaves are afraid to go outside of their enclave.

Outside Kosovo this kind of fears are in smaller scale and they maybe occur only when ethnic tensions for some reasons are rising e.g. between Croats and Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, between Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia (FYROM) etc.

Travelling abroad

To travel from one country to other is a fundamental freedom restricted however more or less depending about which passport the traveller holds.Visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. This topic I treated already in my previous article “Visa rank and the western Balkans” and to that I do not have anything new to add now as I do not have any new data available.


Freedom in Balkans

December 9, 2008

Political freedom is usually described as the absence of interference with the sovereignty of an individual by the use of coercion or aggression.  Often word “Liberty” – the condition in which an individual has the ability to act according to his or her own will –  has been connected to freedom and social anarchists see negative and positive liberty as complementary concepts of freedom.

Freedom House is an independent nongovernmental organization based in USA that supports the expansion of freedom in the world. Freedom House’s definition of freedom is derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The Declaration includes freedom of religion, expression, and assembly; freedom from torture; and the right to take part in the government of his or her country.

With these limitations – US organisation and definition of freedom – the survey anyway tells something also about Balkans.

Global perspective

The Freedom in the World survey provides an annual evaluation of the state of global freedom as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom—the opportunity to act spontaneously in a variety of fields outside the control of the government according to two broad categories:

  • Political rights enable people to participate freely in the political process, including the right to vote freely for distinct alternatives in legitimate elections, compete for public office, join political parties and organizations, and elect representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are accountable to the electorate.
  • Civil liberties allow for the freedoms of expression and belief, associational and organizational rights, rule of law, and personal autonomy without interference from the state.

The Center for Religious Freedom was a division of Freedom House for 11 years. In December 2006, the Center moved to the Hudson Institute so data over this aspect will be found from there.  (http://www.hudson.org)

As an outcome of Freedom House’s survey is e.g. country reports, tables and charts and especially “Map of Freedom” which also can act as interactive tool to reach data collected.

Map of Freedom by Freedom House

Balkans

The results of last survey vary quite a lot by country.  Below I collected a table of results in Balkans from Freedom House’s 2008 publication adding to last column the score from religious survey 2007 of Hudson Institute.  Each pair of political rights and civil liberties ratings is averaged to determine an overall status of “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” Those whose ratings average 1.0 to 2.5 are considered Free, 3.0 to 5.0 Partly Free, and 5.5 to 7.0 Not Free.

Country Status Political Rights Civil Liberties Religious freedom
Kosovo (province under UNSC 1244) Not free

6

5

4

Albania Partly free

3

3

na

Macedonia (FRY) Partly free

3

3

4

Bosnia-Herzegovina Partly free

3

3

na

Montenegro Partly free

3

3

na

Serbia Free

3

2

4

Romania Free

2

2

3

Croatia Free

2

2

na

Bulgaria Free

1

2

3

Slovenia Free

1

1

na

Freedom of the Press in Balkans

A free press plays a key role in sustaining and monitoring a healthy democracy, as well as in contributing to greater accountability, good government, and economic development. Freedom House has been monitoring threats to media independence and their annual survey tracks trends in global press freedom and draws attention to countries or regions where such freedom is under threat.

I collected data related to Balkans from the 2008 edition of Freedom of the Press published by Freedom House and the situation is as follows (Rank among 194 countries):

Country Rating Rank
Slovenia 23 46
Bulgaria 33 76
Croatia 36 78
Montenegro 38 81
Serbia 39 84
Romania 44 94
Bosnia-Herzegovina 45 97
Macedonia (FRY) 47 100
Albania 50 105
Kosovo na na

The country status related freedom of press was in Slovenia free, all the others got status partly free.

Some conclusions

The Freedom House’s ratings are maybe giving too good picture about freedom in anglo-american-West European countries.  Despite there undoubtedly is wide formal freedom e.g. in media the business “laws” are guiding the mainstream media to uncritical approach so that profits and advertisement incomes are not in danger.

The freedom ratings with political rights, civil liberties, religious and press freedom were not so bad in Balkans especially against the turbulent background of modern history.  Naturally there is challenges ahead and work to do.  The only peculiarity was the result of Kosovo which is ranked as ‘not free’ and received scores the same as Sudan, Chad and Egypt in terms of political rights and civil liberties. Odd because UNMIK was send Kosovo to introduce democratic standards and human rights in its protectorate.  If the result is this so the mission must have failed disastrously and lessons learned should fast to be applied in future missions of crisis management.


Serbia jumped to top ranking of attractive emerging markets

October 27, 2008

Recently I wrote here an article named ”Competitiveness of Balkans” where I sited a comprehensive annual survey “Global Economic Competitiveness Report 2008-2009” published by the World Economic Forum (Article and report may be found from here.). The report has calculated sc. “Global Competitiveness Index Rankings” (GCI) 134 countries poled.  Now I was reading a report of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP about a ranking of attractive emerging markets, which approach some Balkan countries from different angle.

PricewaterhouseCoopers – one of the leading global companies on its field of activities – published now the second year of its  EM20 Index (‘the PwC EM20 Index’) generated by PwC’s innovative Risk & Reward Model.  The full report can be found from here.

PwC EM20

In order to be considered for inclusion in the PwC EM20 Index,  countries needed to meet certain criteria associated with emerging market status. These were as follows:

  • GDP per capita in 2007 less than $13,500 at market exchange rates;
  • population greater than 5m people in 2007; and
  • GDP at purchasing power parity in 2007 greater than $50m.

These criteria were set to identify countries with populations and resources of sufficient size to meet the needs of inward investors, while also having an appropriately low cost base. The criteria yielded a list of 50 countries.

Bulgaria and Serbia top three in Manufacturing index

The results for Bulgaria and Serbia – the second- and third-placed countries in the Manufacturing Index – illustrate the impact that significant changes in country riskpremia can have on index rankings.

The two countries are similar in terms of wealth, population size and location –both being physically close to Germany. However, Serbia was placed 25th in 2004 whereas Bulgaria held the top ranking. At the time, Bulgaria was a candidate for membership of the European Union (which it joined in January 2007), while Serbia was emerging from a period of conflict and economic isolation. Thus Serbia’s move up the rankings to third place this year essentially reflects the fact that its political risk – an element contained within the country risk premium applied in the model – has more than halved over the intervening years. Another point to note is that Serbia’s corporation tax is set at a low level of 10%. For comparison, the corporation tax rate in Bulgaria is 15%.

Serbia jumped up 7th in Services index

Serbia was ranked outside the top 20 in 2004, but achieved seventh place in 2008.  Its improvement largely reflects increasing GDP per capita, although its country risk premium remains relatively high. The country risk premium reduction reflects the improvements in political and economic stability as the country moves towards EU admission.

Surprising Serbia

PricewaterhouseCooper analyses the factors for Serbia’s success and concludes following:

One country that features prominently in this year’s PwC EM20 Index, both in the Manufacturing and Services Indices, is Serbia. This may be surprising given that the country is only starting to appear on many investors’ radars as it recovers from the conflicts of the 1990s. Nonetheless, GDP has grown by 5.5% on average since 2000 and FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) is growing as the government opens up the economy and international buyers overhaul recently privatised Communist-era manufacturing facilities. The level of annual FDI inflows has grown steadily in recent years.

PwC continues, that “one of the drivers behind Serbia’s growing potential attractiveness to foreign investors is the falling risk of investing in the country. Political risk is considerably lower than at the start of the decade, while improved legal and financial institutional frameworks make capital invested in Serbia more secure. As a result, investors are willing to accept lower returns on their capital, making viable greater numbers of potential Serbian investment opportunities. Of course, Serbia still experiences some underlying political uncertainty, its accession to the EU is not imminent and further investment in infrastructure is necessary, but many international investors show confidence in the market’s potential.

Different aspects of different reports

While reading different reports it is reasonable also think a little bit which are the motivations behind their statements. EU for example is making regularly their reports about development in western Balkan countries.  The point of view with these reports is, how non-member-states of EU are developing their institutions and practices towards better integration with EU practices.  So these political reports are same time reflecting the values, priorities, top level statements and ideals of EU.

Whit business orientated reports the angle is different.  Statements, ideals and other diplomatic small-talk is on background, the core of reports is the value for companies and potential investors.  When users of political reports are playing in their virtual sandbox the business is playing with their own hard currency and when making decisions they must rely so much as possible to real facts.

Regarding Serbia last year has showed increasing trust by investors to this country.  US Steel has put their money to metal processing, last Summer Fiat started to invest manufacturing of motor vehicles and Gazprom is investing oil and gas.  In service sector Telekom Austria is coming to telecommunications, Merrill Lynch real estate business and News Corporation to media sector.

Political development and events are catching many headlines but real progress can be found from the ground.  After many negative news and reports it is promising to see this development gaining speed in real world.



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Bulgaria wrestles for EU funds and credibility

July 23, 2008

The European Commission is set to withdraw the accreditation of two Bulgarian agencies and bar them for using EU funds after details of a European Commission report on Bulgaria’s fight against corruption and organised crime will be officially issued on July 23. Two agencies under the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works and the Finance Ministry will lose their permits to operate with EU funding under the bloc’s pre-accession programme PHARE. This could deprive Sofia of about €600 million. Two other agency/programme can meet the same procedure.

Some average reader could think that some clever crocks have put nice sum in their pockets because the report highlights corruption, organized crime and economical fraud activities in Bulgaria. Undoubtedly this kind of crimes has happened. However the question about administration of EU funds is more complex than simple crimes. I have worked some 15 years with EU projects and would like bring forward some other aspects from fieldlevel of project management.

EU has some 500-800 different programmes from where individual projects can have 10-100 % financing of their costs. There is some general guidelines, but nearly every programme has also individual regulations, practice and details. For administration it is huge task to manage, coordinate and implement this puzzle.

EU funding/payment can be delayed or revised e.g. if project manager has offered coffee to participants during training session in one programme when this is allowed with other EU programme. Also he can make mistake using real exchange course in payment claim when only monthly average course is allowed. Most projects need own or SME financial contribution but sometimes according one programme rules it comes from too big company, or company is wrong side of municipal border while implementing regional development project. In payment claim some costs can be in wrong budget line or project manager has forgot to ask amendment/revision decision from Management Authority to do so. Some times it is also difficult to interpret if part of project partners´administrative work is its normal development work (uneligible cost) or strictly project development work (eligible cost).

So there is different regulations which are eligible costs in each project depending from which programme main financing is coming. Many times while programme period changes even the EU officials do not know all details which to apply on the beginning of programme period – how then the project manager or province/state level managing authority could forecast them.

Before mentioned boring details can give picture about bad project management, when similar details occurs with most of the projects one can judge situation as bad programme/EU fund management. But one can also see, that this kind of details are far away from organized crime scene.

What is crime from my point of view is that most EU officials/Management Authorities are more interested about small financial details than the outcome of programme/projects. It is possible to keep budget lines, make a perfect financial report where every cent is in right place without any impact on the field. It is as well possible to implement project with excellent results, superb beneficiary feedback, with many spin-offs and follow-ups which following an insufficient financial report will be doomed as failure.

In accordance of my opinion EU should shift the emphasis of the activity from financial nitpicking to goal orientated approach and the first question from EU officials should be the results on the field. The priorities could be e.g. following:

  • Is there any sence in proposed Logical Framework of programme/project
  • What are the results, are they verified and real
  • How the results were achieved (not to estimate justification of costs but to find best practices for similar cases in other regions/fields)
  • How much were the costs (to compare relation of results to investment)

In case of Bulgaria I do not know how much the question is corruption, organized crime etc. and how much simply problems with applying  complex EU bureacracy  in new member state.  However as taxpayer I would like to see EU concentrating to big lines in real world instead detail hooning between specialists about topics those influence to average citizen are close to zero.