How to ignite the belief in an European future?

Đorđe Popović

08. March 2016

How to ignite the belief in an European future?

The parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in the Bundestag has prepared a paper, urging the federal government to pursue three main objectives concerning the EU integration of the Western Balkan region: lend new momentum to the accession process, improve the economic development and strengthen the civil society and democracy. This document, presented at our workshop noted that in 2015, the Western Balkans continued to face major challenges such as corruption, nepotism, unresolved relations between states, non-transparent political decision-making and the precarious economic situation.

The workshop „Consolidating the European Idea in the Western Balkans“, which BFPE organized in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert foundation, was introduced by Josip Juratović, MP in the German Bundestag. He was greeted by President of the BFPE, Sonja Licht with following words:

In these moments, when we are worried that we (South East Europe/Western Balkans) will be pushed to the periphery, it is good that there are people like Josip Juratović. #ConsolidateEUIdea

Then Juratović said:

My generation was told to wait for some more time to pass. In the meantime, many had left #ConsolidateEUIdea

Juratović: #EU is still a society of European values, not only economic interest. #ConsolidateEUIdea

Juratović: Nobody is questioning that there are many smart people in this region, however few of them have the skills economy needs #ConsolidateEUIdea

A discussion ensued, to which German Ambassador Axel Dittmann, (Chief of Serbia’s Negotiating Team) Tanja Miščević and Hedvig Morvai (directing the European Fund for the Balkans) contributed:

Amb. Dittmann: Youth exchange is very important, we are hopeful that the Regional Youth Office will begin working, it would be an accomplishment  #BerlinProcess #ConsolidateEUIdea

Morvai: Regional cooperation has reached all levels of Balkan societies @Balkan_Fund

Miščević: #WB points of view need to be taken into consideration more; parliamentary cooperation needs to be intensified; absolute priority given to chapters #23i24#ConsolidateEUIdea

This was followed by the second panel, which was opened by Dane Taleski, Saša Magazinović, while Karolina Leaković and Remzi Lani took the floor.

Magazinović: why don’t we give candidate status to all, open toughest chapters #23i24 and then see just how honest the elites are #ConsolidatingEUIdea

Taleski: Dynamic civil society, social movements – not enough to promote, need to be fin. supported as donors shift to other regions

Leakovic: We see the narrative re:EU affected by interpretations of the #migrantcrisis

Rising threats to democracy in #WB according to R. Lani: religious extremism and populism in many forms. But why s-ties accept this?

Finally, workshop reached its conclusions:

Licht closing #ConsolidatingEUIdea We have shown to Europe what disintegration means. Are we to go against that comprehension?

One of the q’s that remains #ConsolidatingEUIdea how to rouse anew the belief in an European future?

(Tweets translated to English by BFPE)