The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group
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28 Jun, 2019

Next week in Athens – Two EFB and BiEPAG policy events on July 1-2, 2019

The European Fund for the Balkans through its pillar programme Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group has recently presented the BiEPAG policy brief “The Western Balkans as a Geopolitical Chessboard? Myths, Realities and Policy Options” authored by Florian Bieber and Nikolaos Tzifakis at the policy event in Belgrade “Global Actors in the Western Balkans”.

This conference premiered the “myth busting” brief, which is supported by the findings of the academic background study “The Western Balkans in the World. Linkages and Relations with Non-Western Countries (Basingstoke: Routledge, 2020) having Florian Bieber and Nikolaos Tzifakis as editors, and BiEPAG members as contributors to the study.

The next stop for discussing the bief and the presented subjects of interest – foreign influences in the Western Balkans, as well as the Balkan versus EU is Athens. The two events scheduled for July 1 and 2 will mark this visit to Athens.

On July 1st, the Fund and BiEPAG are joining forces with the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy(ELIAMEP) and the OSF Policy Institute for organizing the open event and whole day conference “Buckle-up! The Western Balkans joining the EU in 2025? Or Not?.

According to the pre-registration more than a 100 people are expected to be present at the event, including Greek officials and former diplomats, around 20 Foreign Ambassadors or representatives of foreign embassies, journalists from prominent media, influential Greek opinion makers, university professors, students and the wider public.

The Executive Director of the Fund Aleksandra Tomanic will be joined by Thanos Dokos (Executive Director, ELIAMEP), Srdjan Cvijic (Senior Policy Analyst on EU external relations, Open Society European Policy Institute) and Ioannis Armakolas (Assistant Professor, University of Macedonia & Senior Research Fellow, ELIAMEP) for the opening remarks.

The event will include three topical panels, The Western Balkans after the Prespa Agreement: Conflicting trends, policy ambiguities, uncertain futures, Towards a new European Commission: What future for Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy?, Toughest nut to crack: Is Serbia – Kosovo deal within reach?, focused on the aftermath of the Prespa Agreement, Serbia- Kosovo relations and the uncertain Enlargement and Neighborhood policy after the EU Elections.

The extended list of panelists includes Ritsa Panagiotou (Senior Research Fellow, Centre of Planning and Economic Research – KEPE., Athens), Alexandra Voudouri (Diplomatic Affairs editor-Athina 9,84fm & Macropolis.gr), Florian Bieber (Professor of Southeast European History and Politics & Director, Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz and BiEPAG Coordinator), Simonida Kacarska (Director, European Policy Institute, Skopje), Remzi Lani(Director, Albanian Media Institute), Isabelle Ioannides (Senior Associate Researcher, “European Foreign and Security Policy” research cluster of the Institute for European Studies & Scholar in the Department of Political Science – POLI, Vrije Universiteit Brussel – VUB), Srdjan Cvijić (Senior Policy Analyst on EU external relations, Open Society European Policy Institute and BiEPAG Member), Marilena Koppa (Associate Professor, Panteion University), Kostas Ifantis (Associate Professor, Panteion University & Kadir Has University, Istanbul), Nikolaos Tzifakis (Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations of the University of the Peloponnese and BiEPAG Member), Donika Emini (Research Fellow, Kosovar Centre for Security Studies),Srdjan Majstorović (Chairman, Governing Board, European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade and BiEPAG Member), Dimitris Moschopoulos (Ambassador (ret.), former Head of the Greek Liaison office in Kosovo & former EU Mediator on Serbian Religious and Cultural Heritage in Kosovo), Maja Piscevic (Senior Fellow, EastWest Balkans) Vessela Tcherneva (Deputy Director, European Council on Foreign Relations – ECFR & Head, ECFR Sofia office).

The wrap-up will be a working dinner and a debate with selected Greek politicians lead by Dusan Reljic (Head, Brussels office, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik – SWP) who will give the impulse to the discussion Is the European Union strategy in the Balkans in trouble? And what to do about it?”

The second EFB and BiEPAG event “A New Geopolitical Game in the Western Balkans” will be held on July 2, 2019 at the European Parliament Information Office in Athens and it will present the latest BiEPAG policy brief in front of the Greek academia, journalists and policy makers, once more in cooperation with Eliamep and the Department for Political Science and International Relations of the University of Peloponnese.

After the intro of the EFB Executive Director Aleksandra Tomanic, the authors of the brief and BiEPAG Members Florian Bieber and Nikolaos Tzifakis will elaborate the detected myths and preconceptions that are common when it comes to the external factors that are intersected on the territory of the Western Balkans as it is explained in details in the brief “The Western Balkans as a Geopolitical Chessboard? Myths, Realities and Policy Options”.

The panel “The Role of the External Actors in the Balkans” will be chaired by Ioannis Armakolas, (Assistant Professor at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia and Senior Research Fellow ELIAMEP). The panelist Dusan Reljic (Head of the Brussels Office of Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Plamen Tonchev (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of International Economic Relations, Athens) and Vessela Tcherneva(Deputy Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Head of the Sofia Office) will respectively focus on the discussion having in mind the influence of Russia, China and Turkey. Srdjan Majstorovic (Chairman of European Policy Centre (CEP) Governing Board, Belgrade and BiEPAG Member) will moderate the event.

The main discussion points for these events will be available at the social media accounts of the Fund, BiEPAG, ELIAMEP and OSFPI.

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