During the public panel discussion, participants agreed that the Russian war against Ukraine and the ‘Zeitenwende’ increased the strategic imperative of Western Balkan enlargement. However, there was doubt about how much a change in rhetoric will translate into a change in action. The implementation of the mobility agreements of the Berlin Process would be a welcome step in the right direction, but whether the ‘Zeitenwende’ aids in resolving long-standing sources of conflict between Kosovo and Serbia or in Bosnia and Hercegovina is uncertain.
The EU should further extend its cooperation in economic and energy policy and must ensure a credible and transparent enlargement perspective. At the same time, democratic change must be home-grown. Here, the EU should strengthen its democratic conditionality and make sure it supports actors that align with its own values.
The 6th Ideas go public lab of the WB2EU project took place on March 23, 2023 at the European Commission’s Representation Office in Berlin. The WB2EU project brings together IEP and 16 other think-tanks, do-tanks, higher education institutes and policy centers from the Western Balkan countries and those most decisive for the enlargement process to support locally-grown democratic momentum and reform in the Western Balkan countries.
The event took off with an expert roundtable, where Berlin-based experts and representatives of the WB2EU network discussed the Berlin Process and Germany’s role in the Western Balkans with Valeska Esch, Senior Advisor to the Special Representative for the Countries of the Western Balkans at the German Federal Foreign Office, and Dr Nedžma Dzananovic, Professor at the University of Sarajevo’s Faculty of Political Science. This was followed by a public panel discussion with Susanne Schütz, Director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, OSCE and the Council of Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, and Dr Senada Šelo Šabić, Senior Scientific Associate at the Institute for Development and International Relations in Zagreb.
The 6th WB2EU Ideas go public lab was supported by the European Commission’s Representation in Germany, Erasmus+ , and the Federal Foreign Office.