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)


What’s up in West-Balkans 2009

February 10, 2009

This post was first published in TH!NK ABOUT IT site 9th February 2009.

A lot of interesting marches of progress will take or not take place in West Balkans during 2009. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of developments at least in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia (including Kosovo) where the most interesting events will occur, I suppose. The today’s topics are mostly related to historical past of the region, its different approaches towards EU, its role as playground of international politics and its various domestic tensions. Here I shortly describe few of these issues and their background.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Last year top level European politicians have awaken to reality concerning the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina, namely that this artificial creature made by Dayton agreement is starting to collapse. This in spite of hundreds of millions of euros which e.g. EU has thrown away to build some kind of multi-ethnical ideal.

Dayton Agreement was made 1995 after bloody war (1992-95) had almost finished ethnic cleansings/transfer of populations so that it was possible to draw administrative boundaries according ethnic groups. The agreement split Bosnia into two semi-independent entities – the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation and three ethnic groups – Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks – are trying to lead state together and separately. Entities are united by weak central institutions, administration is quite heavy loaded with some 170 ministers and whole system is supervised by international presence.

On June 16th 2008 Bosnia-Herzegovina made a significant step forward with EU by signing a key pre-membership deal called the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. The deal was a sign that progress can be achieved and crises overcome, when the political will exists. However, this consensus has since collapsed and reforms halted, nationalist rhetoric ahead of the October 2008 local elections was a factor in this deterioration. 5th November 2008 EU Commission published its “Progress report” about the road of western Balkan countries towards European integration/enlargement and was not very favorable to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The recent past of Bosnia-Herzegovina is violent and there was not only one brutal side – there was three of them. This past has its impact today and real truth behind successful propaganda about events of war 1992-95 is still unclear. This year I expect that the trial of war crime suspect Radovan Karadzic will clarify a bit of this bloody past when both prosecutor and defense are making their case.

The developments last year showed that it is not anymore dispute between Serbs and Bosniaks, there was also serious dissension between Bosniaks and Croats which may be related to rise of radical Islam in Balkans. Lack of national identity and multi-ethnic ideals and dispute between ethnic groups are main reason for possible collapse of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Can any country survive without some minimal mutual self-identification across its citizens as a whole? If the shared non-ethnic Bosnian identity is taking steps backwards does this not mean that this artificial western desk-drawer plan is doomed to fail? I am afraid so but maybe it is loss only for those top level designers not for local population.

Croatia

Croatia is now badly lagging behind its northern Slovene neighbour due to massive political corruption. The official aim is to lead country into the European Union by 2011. Instead Croatia is transforming itself into a mafia state; ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) have presided over a creeping authoritarian kleptocracy, bribery, kickbacks and cronyism are ubiquitous. Protesters took to the streets in December demanding early elections.

Government is also cracking down on the independent media. The regime controls state television and radio, suppressing dissent – especially, any investigations into high-level HDZ corruption – and also recently some journalists have been killed and physically assaulted.

One very alarming trend is (over)emphasizing Croatia’s Nazi past. During WWII Croatia was created and supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It thus adopted their racial and political doctrines as well practices. Jasenovac was Croatia’s largest concentration and extermination camp. From total 600,000 murdered ones some 25,000 were Gypsies, some 25,000 Jews and over half a million Serbs. From time to time some symptoms of this past are occurring also today ad even with support of government (More e.g. in my article “Nazi’s funeral shadows Croatians past )

Serbia

On Spring 2008 Serbia signed two strategic agreement. The one was a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with European Union and the second one was a preliminary energy deal with Russia. The first is since then suspended by Netherlands due the lack of arresting war crime fugitive Gen. Mladic but the second one got some flesh on the bones on Xmas-week when Serbia and Russia finalized the deal. Both deals are implementing Serbia’s European perspective although from different angels.

Serbia however started to implement SAA unilaterally, but the progress could have been better. According to the latest report from the European Integration Office adopted by the government, the ineffective work of the national parliament has meant that only a third of the laws in the European packet have been adopted, while the government has accomplished two-thirds of the necessary work.

Same time anti-European feeling is growing in Serbia and e.g. for the first time in a long time polls are showing that the number of those against cooperation with the Tribunal is on the rise again. While Serbia is not closing the door to the EU it is parallel with the idea of a European prospective searching a couple of other alternatives. Serbia’s FM Vuk Jeremić recently said that “At this point we have closer ties with Russia than with the U.S., since there is not a single open issue between us and Russia, while there is disagreement with Washington when it comes to the future status of Kosovo and Metohija.” (Source B 92 Feb. 8th 2009)

The bloody past will again be on table during 2009 when genocides and ethnic cleansing during 1990s Balkan Wars is going on tables of international courtrooms. Croatia made lawsuit against Serbia and Serbia’s countersuit will be heard in Haague. (More in my article “Croatia’s and Serbia’s ‘Genocide’ Case to Proceed”)

Kosovo province

The UN General Assembly is backing Serbia’s draft to request an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the legality of the unilaterally declared independence (Feb. 2009) of Kosovo. October 8th UNGA, by a recorded vote of 77 in favor to 6 against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 74 abstentions, adopted a resolution drafted by Serbia.

The Kosovo case is dividing international community – less than 60 countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence and 130 not – as well EU. EU started its huge rule & law mission late 2008 under UN umbrella. Besides UN/UNMIK and EU/EULEX there is also other players twisting arms who is leading the international protectorate. There is European Union High Representative who simultaneously leads International Community Office wondering his role, same time Nato-troops (KFOR) tries to keep ethnic tensions moderate, OSCE do not know its role nor length of its mission’s mandate in Kosovo, EU delegation office, few influential foreign liaison representatives and of course sc. Kosovo government based to local tribes.

It shows amazing creativity to establish this kind organizational nightmare in one tiny province and more amazing is that after nearly nine years of international administration and capacity building and squandered billions of Euros both the administration and the situation on the ground are beneath all criticism.

So in many levels Kosovo is some kind of test laboratory but its effect does not remain inside the borders of province. As hub of famous Balkan route Kosovo Albanian mafia is distributing majority of heroin sold in western and centre Europe and is now also testing cooperation with Columbian cartels to start distribution more cocaine as well. Earlier (Kosovo) Albanian mafia based its logistics to help of al-Qaida because the heroin is coming from Afghanistan.

The rest of W-Balkans

At present I do not have anything special in mind about special issues in rest of West Balkans. All countries have their more or less problems with organized crime, corruption and managing reflections of global financial crisis. One curiosity related to finances in West Balkans is that outside official euro-zone Montenegro and Kosovo province are already using Euro as their currency.

In Albania elections will be held in June 2009. At the end of November 2008 the Democratic Party (PD) and the Socialist Party (PS) agreed on amendments to the election law. In late 2008 Albanian parliament passed the law on lustration without the participation of the opposition, which was strongly condemned by the international community. Small parties have accused the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party of planning an election fraud Analysts have pointed to the possibility that the Democratic Party may prepare an election fraud at the forthcoming elections in Albania. At the last elections (2005) the election fraud planned by the Socialist Party was prevented. We shall see if and by who the next fraud is implemented.

Related to EU enlargement (FYR) Macedonia is trying to develop its modest performance. The name dispute with Greece will probably also be solved. In interior policy ethnic tensions between Albanians and Macedonians are bubbling under today’s stability and eruptions are possible.

Slovenia and Croatia have also small border dispute which solution should not create any problems. Slovenia will be the pioneer and enviable example for the rest of Balkans. One small detail to follow up in Slovenia is the claim if a Finnish arms factory Patria bribed previous Slovenian government to order their armed vehicles. It is ironical if the state-owned firm of Worlds most anti-corrupted state is bribing the top pupil of EU.

What ever – interesting year has again started in Balkans and what really happens will be seen.

This graph below shows the relations between the European nations in the Balkans before WWI;  now new great powers – EU, Nato, Russia – are again making new alliances.


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.