Civil society organizations have become critical protagonists in the fight against organized crime and corruption. However, less than 1% out of all 100,000 registered CSOs in the Western Balkans deal with these topics. The current policy brief highlights the challenges that CSOs’ engaged in anti-corruption face, such as pressure from governments, dismissive attitude towards their policy recommendations, and even concerns for their experts’ safety. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also affected CSOs’ financial viability since donors are revising their budgets toward new geopolitical areas and topics.
The analysis also notes that the Western Balkans represent one of the most vulnerable regions in Europe to foreign malign influence. Foreign authoritarian states, primarily Russia and China, have intensified their sharp power influence in derailing faith in liberal democracy and presenting authoritarianism as a more viable political alternative. This has been particularly evident in the process of capturing Balkan media. Kremlin has been able to gain a foothold in the Balkan media space, intimidating journalistic independence and disseminating its preferred narratives.