Project: Organizational development grant from the Think Tank Fund

EU's Internal Crisis as Serious Obstacle to Western Balkans's Eurointegration

The sixth Belgrade Security Forum was organized by the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, European Movement in Serbia and Belgrade Center for Security Policy and took place at Hyatt Regency Belgrade last week. It covered a wide range of security topics from different contexts and perspectives. It gathered a number of speakers and participants proving once again to be one of the most influential regional forums. 

The panel which hosted discussion on the future of relations between Serbia and Albania recieved the greatest attention; its key speakers were Aleksandar Vucic and Edi Rama. Initiative to boost the dialogue between Serbia and Albania was positively rated. Readiness of the politicians to meet and discuss regional cooperation was welcomed. However, regardless of high expectations, the speakers sticked to daily political issues such as Kosovo, Trepca, and their commitment to the EU missing the opportunity to address sustainable modes of cooperations. 

Furthermore, panels on European security and Serbia-NATO cooperation demonstrated that Serbia must re-consider its security policy, particularly on the way to the EU membership. This way may be long and covered by various obstacles. The obstacles are two-fold: internal countries inefficiencies and extertnal. The latter is due to inefficient EU solutions to economic issues, refugee crisis, and terrorism as participants at the Western Balkan perspectives to EU after Brexit and Paris Summit panel discussed.

Ongoing migrant crisis figured as top issue that both, the EU and Serbia, face. A series of panels were organized around this issue and provided opportunity to grasp it from different perspectives (e.g. human rights violations, securitization of the crisis, etc). In this sense, majority of the speakers took anthropocentric position and primarily focused on economic risks, radicalization, rise of right-wing groups across Europe, and mass human rights violations. On the other side, efforts of countries such as Bulgaria and Hungary which built walls and fences aiming at the protection of national borders did not find approval. In concluding remarks at panels, the main reason of the European crisis is European inability to successfully address the ongoing crisis rather than greater influx of migrants. 

Stability in the Southeastern Europe has been undermined by weak and corrupted institutions as well as by economic and political cleaveges stemming from the international order; all together are depicted as relevant security challenges. Additionally, gender dimension of peace-keeping operations, correlation between democracy and security, cyber security were recognized by the Belgrade Security Forum organizers as noteworthy ones to comprehend the future of democracy under current circumstances. 

The Belgrade Security Forum offered once again the opportunity to young researchers to actively participate, exchange their ideas and experiences. By doing so, the organizers recognized the importance of social sciences, in particular international relations, security studies and sociology in assessing the security topics as well in creating public policies. 

The lack of the panels appeared to be time limitation and unsystematic approach of panelists. While many topics stayed untackled, already known facts were repeatedly emphasized. Underdeveloped culture of dialogue which dominates the Western Balkans aggravates the process of substantial deepening and maintaing the level of conversation. Although the Forum itself did not provide concrete solutions for aforementioned security issues, the Forum was largerely attended and proved that disucssion even in this form is of great importance. 

After a large number of participants and a variety of panels, it is very difficult to summarize all the conclusions. However, one can be singled out as the most important - promotion of the cooperation and dialogue between different stakeholders is the key to the realization of peace and stability in the world affected by the crisis.