In order to encourage a European dialogue amongst think tanks and academic institutions on the Western Balkans and their European perspective, the CIFE, CFA, IAI and IFRI, together with other institutions, launched in 2015 an initiative that culminated with the organisation of a “reflection forum” on the Western Balkans in May 2016 in Paris. The reflection forum took place in the run-up to the conference on the Western Balkans hosted by President François Hollande on 4 July 2016. It created an open platform of exchange for more than 80 key experts coming from all over Europe. This first reflection forum addressed some of the topical challenges the EU and Western Balkan countries face, from socio-economic convergence or migration security to democratisation or geopolitics. In the weeks following the event, an expert report was elaborated in cooperation with the EUISS and transmitted to French authorities before the Paris Conference of July 2016. In the following months, a series of outreach events (panel discussions) were organised throughout the Western Balkans in order to nourish the reflection initiated in Paris on the European politics and EU enlargement.
This process of reflection and think tank mobilisation will be continued throughout 2017. On 5th April, a high-level reflection conference, organised under the patronage of the Italian MFA, will kick off the process leading to the second edition of the reflection forum, organised on 26- 27th June 2017, in the run-up to the next intergovernmental conference on the Western Balkans hosted by Italy in July 2017. Contacts have been established in that sense, particularly with Amb. Michele Giacomelli, who is responsible the organisation of the Italy-Western Balkan Summit.
The second reflection forum, once again, will convene the community of European experts working on EU integration and the Western Balkans to reflect on the challenges bedevilling the EU’s enlargement policy –once deemed the EU’s most successful foreign policy- and the contribution research can make to address these. Again, the reflection forum, while creating links to the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum initiative, will provide a platform fostering the exchange of perspectives between experts working in national and European administrations and institutions and researchers affiliated to European think-tanks and universities in the EU and the Western Balkans.
This second reflection forum, dedicated this year to regional cooperation, will contribute to broadening the reflection about enlargement and the Western Balkans among the policy community, the media and the general public. Three areas of reflection have been delineated: the resurgence of bilateral and regional tensions, the gap between regional cooperation in repressive and enabling security matters and the pitfalls of gendered models of economic development. Speakers at the forum will not deliver their presentations ex cathedra but participate interactively in debates moderated by experienced experts. The reflection forum and reflection conference will set the basis for the elaboration of reflection papers, disseminated across the policy community. They will be followed up by a new series of outreach events (panel discussions), to be organised throughout the Western Balkans as well as in the Berlin Process countries in autumn and spring 2017-2018.
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June 26 – 27, 2017
- Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome; Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Nice/Berlin/Istanbul; Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (CFA), Vienna
- French Institute for International Relations (Ifri), Paris; Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Berlin; Austrian Institute for International Politics (Oiip), Vienna; European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Paris; Centre for European Perspective (CEP), Ljubljana; Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory (BiEPAG), Graz; Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso (OBC), Rovereto
- WORKING LANGUAGE