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Senior Program Manager, Latin America and the Caribbean

The transition from the 20th to the 21st century marked a pivotal moment in the Western Balkans. By the end of 2000, the three leaders—Franjo Tuđman of Croatia, Alija Izetbegović of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and Slobodan Milošević of Serbia—who had presided over the most destructive crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War were no longer on the political scene. Moreover, the electoral success of democratic coalitions in Croatia and Serbia, the progress toward democratic standards recognized in Albanian local elections, and electoral reforms introduced in BiH all aroused a sense of optimism for democratization in the region. Thirteen years later, where do these countries stand on the path toward democracy? Has their performance fulfilled expectations?

Mounting domestic pressure for democratic change in Eurasia was met with increasingly repressive policies by the region’s autocratic governments in 2012, according to the newly released edition of Nations in Transit, Freedom House’s annual analysis of democratic development from Central Europe to Central Asia. The year’s events show that the entrenchment of authoritarian rule has come at the cost of increased corruption, censorship of the media, suppression of civil society, and in some cases violence against the political opposition.

Negative developments in Hungary and Ukraine are at the forefront of an antidemocratic trend in Central and Eastern Europe that raises serious questions about the durability of the European Union’s young democracies,

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