This pandemic might be a chance to implement more profound economic reforms that are much needed for the country, and for which the crisis could be a great opportunity.
In the first edition of "Tales from the Region" we addressed the various challenges that countries in the region faced in the first few months of the pandemic. We read seven "tales" through which we learned how neighboring countries and their health systems were affected by the initial wave of COVID-19.
More importantly, we have seen that many countries in the region are in the "same mess". Politicians and political parties place their own political interests above those of the citizens. In some countries, the number of new positive cases of COVID-19 not only did not decrease, but experienced "peaks" in the summer months, when the virus was expected to subside. Meanwhile, the citizens of these countries for the most part were undisciplined in following the recommended measures for protection and prevention.
After the first few months, we witnessed large public gatherings (concerts, sports competitions, celebrations, etc.) without any respect for safeguards. However, these gatherings were not only left unsactioned, but in some cases even supported by the government.
Meanwhile, the economy has slowly succumbed to the virus. How? We find out through the "tales" of our collaborators from Croatia (Prlija), Kosovo (Sbunker), Serbia (Не давимо Београд), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Анализирај.ба), Montenegro (PCNEN) and Bulgaria (Sega.bg). They show where things went wrong in the past few months, but also point out what needs to be done in the future.
In anticipation of the expected second wave, we seek an answer to the following question: how to avoid a complete lockdown of the economy again, while ensuring maximum protection for citizens?
We find out in the second edition of "Tales from the Region".
The "Tales from the Region" initiative is implemented by the Institute for Communication Studies within the project "Connecting the Dots: Improved Policies through Civic Engagement" implemented by the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS), with the support of the British Embassy Skopje.
Citizens and the economy are the victims of political wars in Kosovo.
Inadequate measures of the Government of Montenegro led to a 138 million euro decrease in deposits in the period from February to April, mostly affecting private companies, whose liquidity was put on the line, and it also led to another 5,000 people joining the unemployment line in April alone.
It appears that the country is coping well with the pandemic, the reality, however, is much scarier.
It’s time for drastic changes.
Less than a month after the easing of restrictive measures, Kosovo is facing a sharp increase in the incidence of coronavirus cases, which is no obstacle for political opponents to deal less with the health and well-being of citizens, and more with the continuation of political skirmishes.
Alban Dafa, Redion Qirjazi
COVID-19 was met with a quick response by the Albanian government, yet, it presented opportunities for the Executive to expand its power by sidelining criticism, dominating public perception, disrupting institutional checks and balances, and ignoring due democratic process.
Serbia's state leadership, including a group of MDs who are in the forefront in the fight against the spread of the corona virus, to say the least, ignored the deterioration of the situation until the voting was over.
How did Bosnia and Herzegovina cope and how is it still coping with the crisis caused by the pandemic? Why didn't we have a singular state-level crisis headquarters? How were the scandals produced, caused by irregularities and abuse of the system thanks to shortened procedures during the state of emergency? What caused our greatest fears? Will the November elections bring about change, at least at the local level?
On June 2nd, Montenegro declared the end of the epidemic. Coming out of the first wave, the country’s balance was the following: 324 infected and 9 deceased. Now Montenegro is facing economic challenges and there is great uncertainty regarding the tourist season. Initial estimates clearly show that revenues from tourism will be reduced by 70 percent!
The trend of putting up walls between states and the shaky confidence in the multilateral order suggests that the pandemic, instead of being resolved as a global crisis, will continue to be resolved as a national crisis in each country of the world. Taking all this into account, COVID-19 is also the biggest test of how much and how successfully Macedonia can act as an independent state in the world that is ever so rapidly changing.
This website was developed within the project "Connect the Dots: Improved Policies Through Civic Participation", which is implemented by the Institute of Communication Studies. The project is funded by the Government of the United Kingdom, with the support of the British Embassy in Skopje. The views and opinions expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the position or the opinions of the UK Government. All content is Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) and is free for redistribution by following certain guidelines.