The European Fund for the Balkans and its Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) together with Riko are organizing the session “Western Balkans: Lost Years or New Hope?” on September 11th, the second day of this year’s Bled Strategic Forum. The Executive Director of the Fund Hedvig Morvai will be one of the speakers together with the Srdjan Majstorovic, BiEPAG Member and Chairman of the Governing Board of Serbia’s European Policy Center. They will also be joined by Gent Cakaj (Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania), Srdjan Darmanovic (Minster of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro), Enver Hoxhaj ( Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo), Terens Spenser Nikolaos Quick (Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece), Momcilo Radulovic (President of the European Movement in Montenegro), Charlotte Ruhe (Managing Director, Central and South Eastern Europe), Andrej Zhernovski (Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Macedonia). Adnan Cerimagic (Analyst at ESI) will open the session as a keynote speaker, and Tim Judah(Balkans correspondent at The Economist ) will be the moderator.
The main thematic focus will be the EU enlargement process, which has always been a political. Despite the technical benchmarks, monitoring missions, evaluations and progress reports, it took only one sentence from the President of the European Commission five years ago to raise doubt and fear about belief in the enlargement policy and the Western Balkans. After several years of uncertainty, it again took only one sentence from the same President to revive hope and enthusiasm in the region, which in the past was much more concerned about having a positive external appearance than internal reforms. This hope was translated into concrete language with a new strategy on enlargement; new tasks have been divided among the countries of the region, and uncertainty has been replaced by actual dates for enlargement.
But why will things be different this time? How will the lost years of slow progress be replaced by the swift and successful transformation of a society ready to embrace the norms, standards and values of the EU? Are the political elites ready to embark on this road, which in the end might cost them their privileges and functions? Is civil society ready to act as a watchdog and catalyst for changes?
The possible answers and scenarios will be discussed during the session which is scheduled on the Bled Strategic Forum programme for today at 16.00- 17.30, and it will be broadcasted live on the following link: