Profile cover photo
Profile photo
European Stability Initative (ESI)
Europe stability EU enlargement Balkans Turkey Caucasus documentaries debates intervention
Europe stability EU enlargement Balkans Turkey Caucasus documentaries debates intervention


Post has attachment
NEW newsletter: Accession revolution in Brussels – a new flagship – Usain Bolt and the quality of statistics (9 November 2015)

This week on Tuesday the first edition of a new generation of EU accession reports will be published. If developed further in coming years, this may be the beginning of a revolution in accession methodology.
2 Photos - View album
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
ESI policy proposal: The Merkel Plan – A proposal for the Syrian refugee crisis

This paper outlines how an agreement between Germany and Turkey could have an immediate and dramatic impact on the Syrian refugee crisis. It would restore control over Europe's south-eastern border without sacrificing compassion for the refugees. But with the far right resurgent across Europe, the window of opportunity for decisive action is closing fast.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
NEW newsletter: Refugees as a means to an end – The EU's most dangerous man

While EU institutions and governments discuss how to deal with the consequences of this refugee crisis (how to register, allocate and accommodate tens of thousands) or dwell on steps which have at best an impact in the very long-term (diplomacy or limited interventions in Syria) one leader stands out for his ability to use the refugees as a mean to a very different agenda: Viktor Orban. So far, he has been astonishingly successfully.

It is urgent, however, for mainstream leaders across Europe to discuss serious and not fake proposals on how to both respect the right to asylum and control the EU's borders. It is the weakness of the mainstream that allows extreme positions like Orban's to look strong.
4 Photos - View album
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
The European Stability Initiative, in cooperation with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the Economic Development Foundation (IKV), is inviting to: 


The road to visa-free travel for Turkish nationals:
problems and prospects

Ankara, Monday 4 May 2015, 10.00 – 12.30 hours

In December 2013, Turkey and the EU launched a visa liberalisation process. Based on a "visa roadmap", Turkey is undertaking reforms in the fields of passports, border management and asylum, illegal migration, the fight against organised crime and human rights to qualify for visa-free travel with the Schengen zone. The declared goal of the Turkish government is the abolition of the visa requirement by 2017.

How far has Turkey come? Where is progress and where are more efforts needed? Is 2017 still a realistic target date? These and other questions will be discussed by a panel comprising:

Gerald Knaus, ESI Chairman 

Kasia Lach, in charge of the visa process at the EU Delegation to Turkey

Melih Özsöz, IKV Deputy Secretary General and Director of Research 

A representative of TOBB and Çiğdem Nas, IKV's Secretary General, will welcome the participants. The panellists will take questions from the audience. The discussion will be moderated by Alexandra Stiglmayer, ESI Senior Analyst.

The event will be conducted in both English and Turkish with simultaneous interpretation. It will be held under Chatham House rules. Journalists can speak on the record with Gerald Knaus and Melih Özsöz after the briefing. 

Monday, 4 May 2015
10.00 – 12.30 hours
Location: TOBB Social Facilities, MNOP Twin Towers, meeting room "Şefik Tokat", Dumlupinar Boulevard No: 252 (Eskişehir Highway 9 km), 06530 Ankara

Please register with early since places are limited with Ahmet Ceran, tel. 0212/270-9300,
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
ESI newsletter on Azerbaijan: Formula One and human rights – Vaclav and Rasul – Iwinski and the Garden Party

Exciting news from the world of sport: Formula One has embraced the cause of human rights.

"Formula One, heavily criticised by campaigners over the years, this week quietly published a statement of respect for human rights in which it agreed to carry out due diligence on future hosts. Asked whether he would now 'check out the human rights record in Baku', Ecclestone responded: 'We have. I think everybody seems to be happy. Doesn't seem to be any big problem there.'"

Before anyone rushes to judgement and begrudges Baku its first Formula One race next year – or its upcoming European Olympics – let us admit that Bernie Ecclestone has a point.

There is no reason to expect sports organisations to condemn a regime for human rights abuses that is praised by the leading clubs of European democracies: the Council of Europe and the European Union. The time when Formula One cares more about human rights than these bodies has not yet arrived, though it might soon, the way things are going.
6 Photos - View album
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
When: Tuesday 21 April 2015, 13:00 – 14:00
Where: Strasbourg, Council of Europe, Palais de l'Europe, room 5
Hosts: Norwegian Helsinki Committee, European Stability Initiative, International Federation for Human Rights, Forum 18
Sponsor: Tiny Kox (The Netherlands)

Join us for a discussion of the role of the Council of Europe (CoE) in addressing Azerbaijan's grave violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. We will update you on latest developments in the country and present suggestions for action. You will also meet Dinara Yunus whose parents Levla and Arif Yunus, prominent members of Azerbaijani civil society, have been kept in prison since last August.

During its CoE Chairmanship in 2014, Azerbaijan imprisoned and sentenced to long prison terms the county's leading human rights defenders and dissidents. Many of them have been valued interlocutors for PACE and other Council of Europe institutions. Credible estimates put the number of political prisoners in Azerbaijan currently at more than 90. Among them are also representatives of religious communities. Azerbaijan also tightened NGO legislation, making any independent work impossible.

Just last Friday, leading human rights defender Rasul Jafarov was convicted to 6.5 years of imprisonment on politically motivated charges. He ran the "Sing for Democracy campaign" before the Eurovision contest in Baku in 2012 and last year initiated a similar campaign – "Sports for Rights" – to raise awareness of the repression of civil society in Azerbaijan ahead of the European Games in June 2015.


Nils Muiznieks, Commissioner for Human Rights
Tiny Kox, Member of PACE (The Netherlands)
Pieter Omtzigt, Member of PACE (The Netherlands)
Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH Honorary President, Laureate of the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe: Crackdown on human rights defenders intensifies as Baku Games approach
Alexandra Stiglmayer, European Stability Initiative, Senior Analyst: How the Council of Europe can restore its credibility
Dinara Yunus, daughter of political prisoners Leyla and Arif Yunus, Azerbaijan
John Kinahan, Forum 18: Behind the tolerance façade: Freedom of religion or belief restricted
Contact: Berit Lindeman, NHC,, mob. +47 90 933379
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
New ESI Newsletter: The good news from Greece - Letters from Prison 

"In 2010, a film was made about Boutaris by Greek director Dimitris Athiridis: One Step Ahead. It showed a determined man campaigning as an independent candidate against the "conservative status quo." Boutaris promised to clean up the city, in every sense. He challenged wasteful municipal spending. He promised to deal with the garbage problem. He provoked the establishment: if municipal television kept piling up losses, perhaps it should consider a porn channel to make some money, he quipped. His opponents, devoid of humour, struggled to respond. Boutaris defended his vision of an open city: he stated that it should be a pilgrimage destination for Jews throughout the world; an attraction for visitors from Turkey. "Our dream is to make our city extrovert and tolerant," he declared. Before he came to power, he later noted, the city had been "Turko-phobic, Jew-phobic, Slavo-phobic." He vowed to change this. Some attacked him as unpatriotic. Boutaris referred to the archbishop as someone acting like a "mujahid". The archbishop declared publicly that Boutaris "would never be mayor."

The film also links Boutaris' life story to his politics. It presented a recovered alcoholic, a husband who first lost his wife, then won her back, before losing her again to cancer. A man who went to a foreign clinic for help and returned with his addiction beaten. An individual open about his struggles and past defeats: "How better to help anybody else than by providing an example?", he told the director on camera. 

In 2010, the debt crisis and the pain of austerity ripped through Greek politics, discrediting the political establishment. The crisis helped propel Boutaris to a slender victory as mayor of Thessaloniki. Now armed with a democratic mandate, he set out to realise his vision of an open city."
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
ESI newsletter: End of Year – Pessimism and Protest in Bulgaria – Illusions in Bosnia – Books in Kosovo

2014 was a year of protests: from Ukraine to Bulgaria, from Bosnia to Macedonia. Some protests had dramatic consequences: in Ukraine, after snipers took aim at a crowd of demonstrators, the president fled the country and a new era began. Other protests triggered early elections, as in Bulgaria. And some protests, such as those in Bosnia, made headlines for only a moment, changing almost nothing.

We sincerely want to thank you, our readers. For reading, sharing and responding to our ideas and publications. We look forward to share more ideas with you in 2015 – in pursuit of the vision of one Europe, whole and free.
5 Photos - View album
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
We would like to invite you to an in-depth briefing this week about the EU-Turkey visa liberalisation process.

Gerald Knaus, head of the European Stability Initiative (ESI), and Francesco Luciani, European Commission official in charge of the visa liberalisation process for Turkey, will brief you and answer your questions about where this process stands today.

What has been achieved? What are the biggest challenges that remain? How realistic is it for visa to be lifted by the end of 2016?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
9.00 – 11.00 hours

At the Columbia Global Centers | Turkey
Sıraselviler Cad. No: 49 - Yeni hayat Apt.
2nd floor, apart. 5 - Beyoğlu, İstanbul

The briefing will be conducted in English under Chatham House rules. Please register, since places are limited, by writing to Christian Altfuldisch at:

We thank the Stiftung Mercator for supporting the event, and the Columbia Global Centers | Turkey for providing the facilities.

Kindest regards,

Gerald Knaus,                                    Alexandra Stiglmayer,
Chairperson of ESI                            ESI Senior Analyst


One year ago, on 16 December 2013, Turkey and the EU launched a visa liberalisation process. To qualify for visa-free travel, Turkey has to improve border management, establish an asylum system complying with international standards, respect human rights and effectively fight illegal migration. All requirements are outlined in a visa roadmap.

On 20 October 2014, the European Commission issued a first progress report. Based on it, ESI has produced a scorecard of progress, which shows where Turkey stands and what the big challenges are for the coming year (see below). As you can see, a lot remains to be done.

For more information, please visit ESI's website on the visa issue in Turkey at or in Turkish at

For more information on how a strict and fair accession process inspired by the visa roadmaps might revive EU-Turkey relations and the enlargement process please go here: Enlargement 2.0 – The ESI Roadmap Proposal (Belgrade presentation)

ESI on visa and the Erasmus generation: Türk Öğrenciler, Tecrit ve Erasmus Sorunsalı (24 Temmuz 2014)
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
ESI newsletter: The mercy of Commodus – The failure of Jagland

Recent months have been an extraordinary time for Azerbaijan's brave dissidents. While they are receiving global recognition, they remain in jail. Remarkably, most of them were arrested or sentenced whilst their country was holding the chairmanship, between May and November 2014, of what used to be the one of the most prestigious human rights institutions in the world: the Council of Europe. And so far the Council of Europe has barely reacted to the imprisonment of Azerbaijan's leading human rights activists.

The time to act is now. Business as usual is not an option any longer. 
4 Photos - View album
Add a comment...
Wait while more posts are being loaded