In order to bring the EU enlargement process closer to citizens and discuss the benefits it brings to them, the European Movement in Serbia organized a debate in Prijepolje to present the process of European integration from the perspective of citizens of Montenegro, which is like Serbia on its path to the EU membership.

“People in the Western Balkans countries are not sufficiently informed about the EU accession process, and on the other hand, people in the EU Member States take this membership for granted and do not have too much empathy for the countries that are yet to enter, that many things are not harmonized, that it is necessary to add balance to the system”, says Radoje Mijušković of the partner organization “Alfa Centar” from Nikšić, adding that this primarily refers to economic and political criteria, as well as the significant role of the media in process of informing the public.

Isidora Martinenko of the European Movement in Serbia says that the aim of the debate is to contribute to the citizens’ understanding of the process and to open a discussion on the EU at the local level. Some of the questions that are being debated are what is good about the process, what are the advantages and disadvantages of joining the European Union.

Montenegro has gone the farthest among the countries in the region on its European path and out of 33 Chapters, it has only one unopened. As much as the opening of the Chapters is important in the EU accession process, fulfilling the required conditions and complying with regulations and practices in the countries of the European Union play a much more important role.

The biggest problem that may arise is that a country is unprepared to enter the European Union. It may happen that administratively, a country enters the finals of accession negotiations without the institutions of the system being sufficiently built, without enough educational staff. We have such examples in the neighborhood, such as Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria… After all, the enlargement decision is purely political and if it is in the EU’s interest to have a country join it, it will be done even if the criteria is not properly fulfilled, which is a disservice, Mijušković explained.

Organising debates is just one of the activities carried out by the European Movement within the EnlargEUrope project.

“We have activities like Facelook, when we take celebrities to cities across Serbia to talk about their experience and opinions on the European Union, which is very interesting to the audience. On the other hand, we have this type of expert discussions and also the European classes, where we give high school students training on the process of European integration so that they can make rational decisions about whether they are in favor or against the process”, Martinenko says.

The event was organized within the framework of the EnlargEUrope project, which is realized with the aim of contributing to a better understanding and promotion of the importance of the EU enlargement process and accession of the Western Balkan countries. The project is being implemented by the European Movement in Serbia with the support of the European Commission. Besides the partners from Montenegro, organizations from Croatia, Lithuania, Romania and Poland are also involved in the project.