The future of NATO and EU integration of the Western Balkans: Is there still a role for the US?

Emerging Democracies Institute, 25.11.2013.

Emerging-Democracies-Institute

On Monday, November 25, 2013, the Emerging Democracies Institute organized a panel discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC titled “The future of NATO and EU integration of the Western Balkans: Is there still a role for the US?”.

The Western Balkans has come a long way since the end of the wars of the 1990s. Peace and stability have endured for over a decade in great part due to a very active engagement of the United States. However, with many positive signs evident across the region, the United States seems to have stepped back recently and the European Union is taking the leading role in addressing some of the region’s lingering problems. This approach has many supporters, largely due to the promising signs of progress in some of the Western Balkan countries. Croatia is a member of NATO and the EU. Albania has just held a successful election and is poised to move forward on its EU integration quest. Close to being a NATO member, Montenegro may be the next in line for EU membership. Having negotiated an agreement with Kosovo, Serbia is readying to open its membership talks in January.

However, the region is still burdened with many unresolved issues. The Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia does not fundamentally solve the issue of Kosovo’s recognition and its implementation has recently hit a snag. Macedonia’s EU and NATO accession continues to be stalled by the Greek veto while the country faces a host of domestic problems. And the EU leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina has not managed to find a solution to prevent the country from plunging into the deepest political crisis since the US-brokered Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in 1995.

This panel focused on the future of the NATO and EU integration processes in the Western Balkans, and the role the US is poised to play in it.

The panelists included:
Jonathan Moore, Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs at the Department of State
Haki Abazi, Program Director for the Western Balkans at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Kurt Bassuener, co-founder of the Democratization Policy Council

The discussion was moderated by EDI president Reuf Bajrovic.

You can watch the video of the entire event here.