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At the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade, the eighth “Dr. Predrag Simić” award ceremony for 2023 was held, jointly awarded by the Simić family, the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade, the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Belgrade and the Center for Social Dialogue and Regional Initiatives.

The award is given to the author of the best student paper in the field of Serbian foreign policy and Balkan relations, those areas for which Professor Predrag Simić was a significant expert, analyst, author and inspiring professor.

The award ceremony was attended by the ambassador of the European Union in Serbia, H.E. Emanuele Žiofre, dispatcher at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Serbia, Monika Podsklanova Šuhajdova, and journalist and editor of the Serbian Radio and Television, Dr. Jasminka Simić.

Among this year’s winners of the “Dr. Predrag Simić” award was our colleague Radomir Aleksić, program assistant at the BFPE Foundation for Responsible Society, who won the first prize. The second prize went to Nikola Prepadović, and the third to Nenad Rakić.

The topic of Radomir’s work is “Will the Open Balkans project fully come to life and what are its potential consequences for the stability of the region?”. In his work, he presented the roots of the Open Balkans initiative, the perception of the initiative in Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, but also referred to the Berlin process itself and the decision of representatives of institutions in Pristina not to join the initiative.

When asked by a journalist what is the Open Balkans – competition with the Berlin Process, competition with the EU or a way to enter the EU faster, Radomir answers:

“The Open Balkans will contribute to further integration into the European Union because the European Union began to deal more significantly with the region with the Berlin Process, that is, the Berlin Process started gaining momentum in the region again. I believe that the ultimate goal will be achieved with a potential regional market, but it will be established through the Berlin process and not through the Open Balkans project. The open Balkans is not an eternal vestibule of the European Union, but a step towards the European Union”.

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