Western Balkans: Lost Years or New Hope?

Arnold I HallArnold II HallHotel Rikli Balance  

In partnership with Riko and European Fund for the Balkans.

The EU enlargement process has always been a political process. Despite the technical benchmarks, monitoring missions, evaluations and progress reports, it took only one sentence from the President of the European Commission five years ago to raise doubt and fear about belief in the enlargement policy and the Western Balkans. After several years of uncertainty, it again took only one sentence from the same President to revive hope and enthusiasm in the region, which in the past was much more concerned about having a positive external appearance than internal reforms. This hope was translated into concrete language with a new strategy on enlargement; new tasks have been divided among the countries of the region, and uncertainty has been replaced by actual dates for enlargement.

But why will things be different this time? How will the lost years of slow progress be replaced by the swift and successful transformation of a society ready to embrace the norms, standards and values of the EU? Are the political elites ready to embark on this road, which in the end might cost them their privileges and functions? Is civil society ready to act as a watchdog and catalyst for changes?


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