Valerie Hopkins is the South-East Europe correspondent for the Financial Times, covering Hungary, Romania, Albania and the former Yugoslavia. Before joining the FT, she worked as a freelancer as well as with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. She has a Master of Arts in Political Journalism from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and a B.A. in International Relations (focus on Russian and Post-Soviet Studies) from the College of William and Mary.
Opening the EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia while many European countries remained in lockdown exhibited positive messaging on two fronts: it appeased the effected countries and demonstrated to the world that the EU did not pause completely, even during unprecedented times of adversity. The crisis underlined the region’s vulnerability to influence from other global powers and exposed the fragility of regional political systems. For Ukraine, which has been resisting military aggression from the Russian Federation (including the occupation of Crimea) while simultaneously enduring difficult a domestic transformation, the threat of the novel coronavirus has proven extremely challenging. Could this crisis be used by the Ukrainian national government to regain citizens’ trust, or will it further deepen political polarization? How can the EU contribute to strengthening the region’s resilience, and what regional measures are necessary in order to meet the EU halfway?