Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Posts Tagged ‘CEE’

Nothing to return to‘: Serbia is losing one town every year through population decline

Posted by hkarner - 9. Februar 2020

Date: 08‑02‑2020

Source: Euronews

Uros Trainovic remembers when his mining village in eastern Serbia was a vibrant home to 200 families, had a school of its own, a doctor and a shop.

Sixty years later, what remains is a ghost village with only eight residents.

“It is such a pity and so sad that everybody left,“ the 71‑year‑old recalls. „Now there are only few of us and there are no young people any more.”

The decline of Blagojev Kamen is not unique in a country that experienced years of war and sanctions in the 1990s following the break‑up of Yugoslavia.

Near‑empty villages with abandoned, crumbling houses can be seen all over Serbia — a symptom of a shrinking population that is raising serious questions over the economic well‑being of the country.

One town every year

The numbers look stark. According to the World Bank, Serbia’s population of just below 7 million is projected to fall to 5.8 million by 2050. That would represent a 25% fall since 1990.

The Serbian government says the Balkan country is effectively losing a town each year, and that as many as 18 municipalities have fewer than 10,000 people.

The decline is happening so fast that the United Nations has stepped in to help.

The U.N. Development Program and the U.N. Population Fund have assembled a group of seven international experts of different backgrounds and specialities for a fact‑finding mission. They visited Serbia last month.

Wolfgang Lutz, a demographics expert at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), said that the main problem is related to the make‑up of those leaving Serbia rather than the overall population decline.

He told the Associated Press that „it tends to be the better‑educated, the more highly skilled, the more highly motivated mobile people who are leaving, and that is certainly a drain of the human capital.”

Nothing to return to Serbia for

Reflecting the decades of crisis are villages like Blagojev Kamen. It had flourished when a nearby gold mine kept the area alive before and after World War II, but its fortunes have sunk as the mine closed down in the mid‑1990s.

Trainovic said there are still gold and other minerals in the mine but that it needs investment and hard work.

“One of my sons is in Germany and the other one is in Austria,” he said. “They visit often but they have nothing to return to.”

Serbia’s government has tried to buck the trend, offering financial benefits for couples with multiple children, state‑backed IVF, the renovation of schools and daycare centres, aid to families in rural areas or backing for businesses in villages.

Ruth Finkelstein, an assistant professor from Columbia University who is an expert on ageing and its social implications, said Serbia should also strive to find a role for its growing elderly population.

“Room after room, people focus only on the young people,” she said.

Balkan population decline

Serbia is not the only eastern European country worried by its population decline.

Its EU member neighbour, Croatia, has made the issue of „demographic challenges” a priority. Croatia’s rural areas have been emptying at an alarming rate while more than 15% of Croatia’s 4.2 million people are living and working abroad. Bulgaria and Ukraine are two others enduring population declines.

Stjepan Sterc, a prominent Croatian demography expert, thinks the efforts to deal with the problems so far across the Balkans are not enough and that the tax system has to be more focused on reversing the trends.

“Demography should be recognized as the essence of economic development so that the most important encouragement tool is directed toward it,” he said.

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EU Reluctance Unsettles Western Balkans’ Search for Secure Future

Posted by hkarner - 7. Februar 2020

Date: 05‑02‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Postponement of long‑awaited accession talks leaves North Macedonia and Albania in limbo

SKOPJE, North Macedonia—At town entrances along the highway winding up

the snow‑topped mountains northwest of here, oversize Albanian flags flutter beside shrines to fallen ethnic Albanian insurgents. Tey reflect the legacy of a war that ended in 2001, one of several that ravaged the Balkans in the preceding decade.

North Macedonia and the rest of this region, where the implosion of former Yugoslavia in 1991 unleashed Europe’s worst atrocities since World War II, have been remarkably peaceful of late. That is largely thanks to the prospect of one day joining the European Union’s club of wealthy democracies—a taming of ancient quarrels that shows just how much soft power the EU, despite all its troubles, can exert in its immediate neighborhood. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A love affair with liberal democracy that soured

Posted by hkarner - 13. Januar 2020

Date: 09‑01‑2020

Source: The Economist Books and arts

“The Light that Failed” explores how, in eastern Europe, disillusionment set in

The Light that Failed. By Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes. Pegasus Books; 256 pages; $26.95. Allen Lane; £20.

In a viral video for a song by Sergei Shnurov, a Russian rock star, a provincial young woman in a shabby Soviet‑era apartment vies for the attention of a Westernised businessman she has befriended over Skype. He invites her to an art exhibition. She duly waxes and squeezes herself into tight jeans, emulating a model in a glossy magazine, and paints the soles of her shoes in red nail varnish to mimic the expensive Western originals. Alas, as she answers the door, the jeans treacherously split, the shoes stick to the floor—and the Russian Cinderella falls flat on her face.

A scathing take on Russia’s abortive date with the West, the video’s popularity was due in part to its liberating message. Don’t bother aping others, it wittily enjoined; stick with what you’ve got. The pitfalls for ex‑communist countries of copying the (once) liberal West are the subject of “The Light that Failed”, a sharp, polemical and ideas‑packed book by Ivan Krastev, a Bulgarian‑born political scientist who has witnessed and participated in the remaking of central and eastern Europe, and Stephen Holmes, an expert on the history of liberalism at New York University.

Published for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, their book sets out to explain how the liberal transformation of eastern Europe turned into a defeat for the idea of liberalism itself; why, after making reforms that paved the way for Europe’s emancipation, Russia became a bitter enemy of the West; and why “the end of history”—as Francis Fukuyama once put it—gave way to the apparent cancellation of the sunlit future. Membership of nato made many ex‑communist countries more secure than ever. Accession to the European Union helped make them unprecedentedly rich. Yet disillusionment set in. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Erste-Chef Treichl zum Abschied selbstkritisch

Posted by hkarner - 2. Dezember 2019

Und: wer hat die faulen Kredite hereingenommen? Und lange nicht als solche deklariert. Als die EZB das Asset Quality Review machte: Welche der 129 Banken hatte den grössten Korrekturbedarf von allen bei den Non-Performing-Loans. und das um 37 % (in Worten: siebenunddreissig!!!!) Ja, die Bank des Feuerwehrmanns (T’schuldigung: des Brandsgiffters!) hfk
Wirtschaft

Seit 1997 hat der 67-jährige Andreas Treichl die Erste Group geführt, nun geht der Volkswirt in Pension – und gibt sich zum Abschied selbstkritisch. Als die Finanzkrise 2008 begann „hatten wir jede Menge fauler Kredite“, so Treichl im Interview mit dem „Standard“.

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France Moves to Slow European Union’s Balkan Expansion

Posted by hkarner - 25. November 2019

Date: 24-11-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Critics say French proposals could freeze out new members for a generation

BRUSSELS—A long-delayed European Union goal of expanding to include more countries in the western Balkans is slipping further out of reach following French moves to rework how new members join the bloc.

Talks to add Albania and countries from the former Yugoslavia have been stymied for years by wariness among current members over enlargement and slowness among candidates in implementing political and economic overhauls. Current political developments in the EU pose new threats to the vision.

Britain, an ardent proponent of enlargement, is almost out of the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also an enlargement supporter, is entering her swan song. Pushing back, France’s increasingly assertive president, Emmanuel Macron, is arguing that deepening integration among current EU members is more important than expanding the bloc. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Central and eastern Europeans are mostly happy with progress since 1989

Posted by hkarner - 4. November 2019

Date: 31-10-2019
Source: The Economist

The collapse of communism ended four decades of servitude

No empire in history has disintegrated as quickly or as bloodlessly as the Soviet one, in the remarkable year that saw the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. A period of carnage in Romania the following month was the only grisly counter-example. Yugoslavia, never a part of that empire, followed a tragically different path; but for the rest of central and eastern Europe, though clearly imperfect, the past 30 years have been a time of marvels.

Standards of living for most of the region’s peoples have vastly improved, and most of them know it. New polling by the Pew Research Centre shows that 81% of Poles, 78% of Czechs and 55% of Hungarians agree that this is the case. Only Bulgarians on balance take a gloomy view, with just 32% of them thinking that their standard of living has improved since 1989. Development has been patchy, but for every depopulating and ageing rustbelt in eastern Europe there is a booming industrial region, a tech cluster or a services centre desperate for more workers. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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At French insistence, the Macedonians are left out in the cold

Posted by hkarner - 27. Oktober 2019

Date: 26-10-2019
Source: The Economist

The Albanians too

Not even the bleariest-eyed of early-morning travellers can fail to notice the memorial at Sarajevo airport. It recalls eight French soldiers who died during the Bosnian war. When the war ended, in 1995, the American-designed peace deal was signed in Paris. Ever since then, European policy has been clear: to avoid the mistakes of the past, the western Balkan states must be anchored in the eu. But at a summit on October 18th, to the horror of Balkan leaders and most of his eu colleagues, Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, seemed to kick the legs out from under that policy.

Mr Macron argued that the eu’s enlargement strategy was “bizarre”, and that the eu needed reform before enlargement. France blocked the opening of accession negotiations for North Macedonia; along with Denmark and the Netherlands, it did so for Albania, too. Overshadowed by Brexit, the veto was barely reported in France, but it sent shock-waves through the Balkans. Serbia and Montenegro are already negotiating membership, and Kosovo and Bosnia would like to start as well. Although Mr Macron says that eu enlargement is not dead, he is unclear about what should happen next. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Can the good run of central Europe’s economies last?

Posted by hkarner - 27. Oktober 2019

Date: 26-10-2019
Source: The Economist

The extremely open economies are vulnerable to external shocks

Fifteen years after they joined the eu, the four “Visegrad” states of central Europe (the v4) can be prouder of their economic achievements than of their patchy record on political reform. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have increased their levels of gdp per head dramatically, and are converging with their mighty neighbour Germany. The Czechs are the richest, with a gdp per head that is 73% of Germany’s, followed by Slovakia with 63% and Hungary and Poland with around 57% each—and the gap continues to close, as their growth outpaces that of the behemoth (see chart).

Four main external forces have driven the remarkable successes of the four extremely open v4 economies. The first is their access to generous subsidies from the eu, which make up a sizeable chunk of their respective national incomes. Second is the munificent flow of remittances from millions of expat v4 citizens who now live and work in the eu, especially in Germany, Austria or Britain. A benevolent recent economic environment has also helped, especially the success of the German economy, by far their most important trading partner and the biggest or second-biggest investor in each country. And lastly, the four all started from a low base, enabling them to serve as cheap workshops for more developed economies. The danger is that all four of these factors are now petering out. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How liberalism became ‘the god that failed’ in eastern Europe

Posted by hkarner - 25. Oktober 2019

Date: 24-10-2019
Source: The Guardian By Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes

After communism fell, the promises of western liberalism to transform central and eastern Europe were never fully realised – and now we are seeing the backlash.

In the spring of 1990, John Feffer, a 26-year-old American, spent several months criss-crossing eastern Europe in hope of unlocking the mystery of its post-communist future and writing a book about the historical transformation unfolding before his eyes. He was no expert, so instead of testing theories, he buttonholed as many people from as many walks of life as possible. The contradictions he encountered were fascinating and puzzling. East Europeans were optimistic but apprehensive. Many of those he interviewed at the time expected to be living like Viennese or Londoners within five years, 10 years at the most. But these hopes were mingled with anxiety and foreboding. As Hungarian sociologist Elemér Hankiss observed: “People realised suddenly that in the coming years, it would be decided who would be rich and who would be poor; who would have power and who would not; who would be marginalised and who would be at the centre. And who would be able to found dynasties and whose children would suffer.”

Feffer eventually published his book, but did not return to the countries that had briefly captured his imagination. Then, 25 years later, he decided to revisit the region and to seek out those with whom he had spoken in 1990. This time round, eastern Europe was richer but roiled by resentment. The capitalist future had arrived, but its benefits and burdens were unevenly, even crassly distributed. After reminding us that “For the World War II generation in eastern Europe, communism was the ‘god that failed’”, Feffer writes thatFor the current generation in the region, liberalism is the god that failed.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Survival of Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

Posted by hkarner - 21. Oktober 2019

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Following parliamentary elections in Poland and local elections in Hungary, populist autocrats in both countries remain in power, where they will continue to undermine democratic institutions. Even so, relative victories for opposition forces in both countries show that the region’s „illiberal democrats“ are not unbeatable.

WARSAW – Is populism in Central and Eastern Europe finally losing its momentum? In Poland, opposition parties won the Senate, and the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s share of the vote slipped to 43.7%, from 45.5% in European Parliament elections this past May. And in Hungary’s local elections, the opposition retook power in Budapest and won mayoral races in ten other cities.

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