On 28 January 2022, The European Movement in Serbia, together with the representatives of the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje (IDSCS) and Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW), attended the final event of the pilot phase of the Think Balkans project titled “Regional cooperation in the Western Balkan and EU accession” in Warsaw, Poland.

At the beginning of the event, Western Balkan experts presented the two papers – “European Union New Methodology and its long-term impact on accession negotiations” and “The Impact of Regional Organizations and Initiatives in the Western Balkans”.

The welcoming remarks were delivered by Mr Marko Troshanovski, President of IDSCS.

“The initial idea of this pilot phase of the project was to learn and  build upon the experience and success of Think Visegrad in order to  establish a similar mechanism between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs) and the think tank community in the Western Balkans”, said Troshanovski adding that this kind of regional cooperation is a novelty which needs to reach a certain point of trust between MFAs and the NGO sector.

Furthermore, Mr Zoran Nechev, Head of the Centre for European Integrations within IDSCS, presented the first paper titled “European Union New Methodology and its long-term impact on accession negotiations”. On this occasion, Nechev focused on the implementation aspect of the New Methodology and its impact in North Macedonia and Albania.

“The fourth revision of the EU accession methodology lays on four elements. The first and the most important element essential for success of the Methodology is the political commitment. And this document did not create it, instead the situation now is much worse than in 2019. Once again, the accession process is in stalemate”, said Nechev.

Ms Nedzma Dzananovic, Professor at the University of Sarajevo and Researcher at the Humanity in Action (HiA), presented the second paper titled “The Impact of Regional Organizations and Initiatives in the Western Balkans”. Ms Dzananovic discussed the challenges and the success stories in researching the current processes of regional cooperation in the WB.

“The policy paper on regional cooperation in the WB and its impact was one of the topics of interests of the MFAs. However, when we started our research, it turned out to be one of the hottest political issues in the region. This makes our contribution on this matter very timely presented”, stated Dzananovic.

In the second part of the panel, the co-authors of the papers actively participated in a discussion. Mr Vladimir Medjak, Vice-President of the European Movement in Serbia discussed the New Methodology from the Serbian perspective.

“The Methodology would improve the process if fully applied, which today is not the case. The progress is reduced to box ticking exercise instead of making a societal change as it was said in the Methodology itself. Without a thorough and adequate societal change, Serbia remains in an unfavorable position which needs to be addressed as soon as possible”, said Medjak.

Ms Donika Emini, Executive Director at CiviKos Platform focused on the challenges rising in establishing regional cooperation in the WB.

“The discussion on regional cooperation is becoming more complex. We already have overlapping regional initiatives and the paper shows all of the issues, reluctances and challenges in establishing effective cooperation in the WB”, said Emini.

Ms Alba Cela, Executive Director at the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) discussed the impact of the New Methodology over Albania.

“We tried to focus on how the the justice reforms in Albania are aligned with the New Methodology, however we have not seen the Methodology being implemented and that is accumulating disappointment in the enlargement process”, said Cela.

Finally, Mr Nikola Mumin, Executive Director at Politikon Network summarised the discussion points and reflected on the New Methodology impact in Montenegro.

“Even though the New Methodology doesn’t truly fully apply to Montenegro in its truest form, the implementation of its core principles can result in more nation-wide reforms”, noted Mumin.

The event was moderated by Ms Marta Szpala, Senior Fellow at the Central European Department at Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).

This project is financially supported by the International Visegrad Fund and implemented by IDSCS in coordination with the partners European Movement in Serbia (EMinS), Platforma CiviKos from Kosovo*, Politikon Network from Montenegro, Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) from Albania, Humanity in Action from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Centre for European Perspective (CEP) from Slovenia, Centre for Eastern Studies from Poland (OSW), Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade from Hungary (IFAT), the Research Centre of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (RC SFPA) from Slovakia, and EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy (EUROPEUM) from the Czech Republic.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.