“The EU is still failing to address the issue of state capture in the Balkans and, by choosing stability over democracy in the region, has been undermining its own credibility and values. But now it must take strong actions in view of the 2025 admission perspective, writes Shpend Ahmeti.

Shpend Ahmeti is the mayor of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. He was the leader of the New Spirit Party which merged in 2011 with the Movement for Self-Determination, where Ahmeti served as vice chairman before leaving the party in 2018. Ahmeti lectured on public policy at the American University in Kosovo and also worked for the World Bank for a number of years.

‘Today, the Western Balkans countries show clear elements of state capture.’ With this sentence from its new enlargement strategy adopted on 6 February 6, the European Commission eventually took the courage to put a name on the main problem facing our countries. But it also threw the cat among the pigeons as exceptional situations require exceptional solutions.

According to the World Bank, ‘state capture occurs when the ruling elite and/or powerful businessmen manipulate policy formation and influence the emerging rules of the game to their own advantage.’ State capture is a form of grand corruption characterised by high levels of secrecy, which takes two forms: corporate state capture in which public power is exercised primarily for private gain and party state capture in which parties politicise the state in pursuit of political monopoly.

For years, progressive forces in the Balkans have been ringing the alarm bell that state capture is impeding progress on European integration and threatening the future of the region.

Kosovo and Serbia, in particular, have become showcase examples of captured political systems. Kosovo has long been a captured state in the hands of a ruling elite which has reigned over the country almost without interruption since the first government was established in 2002.” (Full Article at Euractiv)