BalkanBlog

Freedom in Balkans

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.

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4 thoughts on “Freedom in Balkans

  1. Pingback: Visa rank and the Western Balkans « AriRusila’s BalkanBlog

  2. Pingback: AriRusila´s BalkanPerspective » Blog Archive » Freedom in Balkans – Part 1: Political rights and civil liberties

  3. Pingback: AriRusila´s BalkanPerspective » Blog Archive » Freedom in Balkans - Part 2: Democracy

  4. Pingback: Freedom in Balkans « AriRusila’s BalkanBlog

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