09 October , 2014

Roundtable discussion in Washington D.C. – “The Unfulfilled Promise: Completing the EU Enlargement to the Balkans”

Roundtable discussion in Washington D.C. – “The Unfulfilled Promise: Completing the EU Enlargement to the Balkans”

In her opening address, Hedvig Morvai, Executive director European Fund for the Balkans , emphasized that it is important to keep the Balkans committed to the EU agenda. Morvai explained that the report was an effort to begin thinking about unfinished endeavors in the Balkans and provide new solutions. Igor Bandović, Senior Programme Manager European Fund for the Balkans, concluded the opening address noting that the report innovatively incorporated perspectives from both the EU and Balkan countries.

Florian Bieber, Director, Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz and Coordinator of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BIEPAG), gave his view on why Croatia is the only Balkan aspirant that entered the EU. Bieber discussed the phenomenon of “enlargement fatigue”, in terms of lack of motivation for further expansion within the EU and possible obstacles to the European integration of the Balkans, such as the reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, tensions between Macedonia and Greece, and relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

Marko Kmezi discussed the four scenarios presented in the report.Scenario 1 – Business as Usualenvisages a slow approach to EU membership,Scenario 2 – Following Turkey’s Path: Alienation from the EUsuggests a two-tier approach, inScenario 3 – Abandoning Enlargement and New Unpredictability in the Western Balkansenlargement grinds to a standstill, and finallyScenario 4: The Balkans Big Bangenvisages the offer of a single entry date for all countries of the Balkans. Kmezić concluded that commitment to integration is necessary, but that quick membership in the EU is unlikely.

Vedran Džihić, Professor University of Vienna, Austria, BIEPAG, expressed his belief that “Business as Usual“ will be the strategy for the next few years, that people will be saturated and that there will be a lack of support for integration, but he also keeps a positive attitude that these issues can be solved.

The event provided an opportunity to discuss the perspectives of the Balkans’ EU integration in further detail. It was attended by about 70 members of the government, of the diplomatic, academic, NGO, and think-tank communities, with Voice of America’s Macedonian service recording the event for all of the Balkans services .

The event was also live-tweeted with the hashtag#GMFBalkansand promoted on theBTD Facebook page.