The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, a joint project of the European Centre for the Balkans and the Centre for Southeast European Studies, launched the policy paper ‘The Unfulfilled Promise: Completing the Balkan Enlargement’ in Sarajevo on 15th and 16th of May 2014. The launch included a press conference, a special episode of the talk show “Vicinities” on the main findings of BiEPAG and a round table debate during EFC AGA 2014, the annual conference of the European Foundation Centre.
The press conference which was held in Hotel Bristol (Sarajevo, 15th of May) was an opportunity to present the policy paper and its 4 scenarios about the future of the EU Enlargement of the Western Balkans in front of the journalists and the public. According to the Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, Ms. Hedvig Morvai this analysis can be interpreted from different angles.
– We have established this initiative as a response to the current situation of the process of the EU integration of our region, since 11 years after the Thessaloniki agreement we cannot witness any significant changes in regard of some of the Balkan countries process of EU accession. We will support all the external and internal factors that can bring progress in this regard through the work of the BiEPAG – said Ms.Morvai.
Goran Svilanovic, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), openly send his message to the EU and Western Balkan countries to seriously address the issues of the rule of law as one of the crucial recommendations for speeding up the process of EU Integration.
– The process of EU Integration will mostly depend on whether the citizens of EU will consider us (from the Balkans) similar to them and in that regard it is very important to create a better picture about the whole Balkan, which will be based on the authentic fight against corruption and the rule of law- said Svilanovic, underlining the Regional Cooperation Council support of this important policy paper and the future work of BiEPAG.
Florian Bieber, Director of the Center for Southeast European Studies – University of Graz, who was the leader of the team of researchers, who produced the final policy paper, shared his conviction that that the present day path towards EU of the countries of the region is too slow. According to him the EU member countries are slowing down the process because of their specific interests and that EU Institutions are no longer in control.
-EU needs a new strategy which implies to a bigger engagement in the process, so it is understandable that a new commissioner for enlargement is needed. There is no solution that can resolve all the problems, but we are assured that the current EU policy towards the Balkans is not enough and that significant changes should be made- said Bieber.
Besides the press conference, the session ‘From Euromaidan to Tuzla: Development scenarios for the Balkans in Europe’ in the frames of the European Foundation Center AGA Conference was also a good chance to present the provocative analysis of the Balkans, its status, trends, and possible development scenarios based on the research findings and policy report of the European Fund for the Balkans and Center for Southeast European Studies initiative – ‘Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG)’.
During the panel discussion which was moderated by Nenad Sebek (CDRSEE) the members of the BiEPAG group Florian Bieber, Dejan Jovic, Leon Malazogu together with Ivan Vejvoda (German Marshall Fund of the United States) tried to answer the crucial current questions – What about the “region” in the new European context? Where do the countries of the Balkans stand in terms of carrying out democratic and economic reforms? How to cope with growing social dissatisfaction? Where do interethnic relations continue to be tense and risk political (ab)use? How to sell further enlargement in the EU member states?
‘Vicinities’ – the only regional talk-show which is shown in prime-time on the national TV-stations in the countries of the region was also dedicated to the special episode which presented the findings of the BiEPAG group and policy document. Once again the members of the BiEPAG group Florian Biber and Vedran Dzihic were joined by Ms.Sonja Licht (Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence) and Ms. Mirna Vlasic Feketija (Advisor to the Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs) to discuss the 4 possible scenarios for the Balkan countries EU Integration.
The policy paper “The Unfulfilled Promise: Completing the Balkan Enlargement” and the briefs with clear recommendations for the EU Commission and the Accession states, which are result of six months of consultations and discussion among the researchers and policy analysts from the Balkans and the EU on how to complete the EU enlargement in the Western Balkan are available bellow.