Grand Opening Event: Sustainable Solutions for the Western Balkans
- What is your image of a prosperous Western Balkans?
- Where do you see the most pressing challenges? Do your countries’ policies take them into consideration?
- Skepticism surrounds the prospect of European integration; the eventual “date” of accession seems ever more distant, with yet another Commission expected to pass on enlargement to the next one. Are you aware of potential consequences, if there is no more tangible European perspective?
- What else North Macedonia has to do in order to start membership negotiations?
- Do you see a way out of political stalemate in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- There is a lot of talk of a “compromise” solution for the dispute over Kosovo, one that would not undermine region’s stability. What has changed in a year’s time? Do you see the necessary prerequisites of such a solution taking shape, alone being implemented?
The stage still seems set for enlargement. North Macedonia stands on the doorstep of NATO; Montenegro has opened last of 35 negotiating chapters (though closing all of them remains a challenge). Yet, in (some of) Balkans’ capitals there is a feeling that European perspective is no longer there. If the paradigm has really changed, and that change is for good, then the dynamics of peace building and intra-regional cooperation has to be affected. Looking at Kosovo-imposed tariffs, Serbia’s de-recognition campaign, and numerous bilateral issues which persist, aside from the one positive example offered by Prespa (which yet awaits full acknowledgment from EU capitals) there is little to show for in a year’s time. Analysts were right to single out rule of law as one critical challenge, sending a message that was understood by the European Commission last spring. All the exchange, trade, and investment – contributing to 3.8% GDP growth in 2018 – will mean little if there is no progress in these other areas.
Previous BSF sessions: