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Delphi Forum on Western Balkans

Safe and Secure Western Balkans an Imperative for European Stability - 2018 Delphi economic Forum

The European road of the Western Balkans and the obstacles

After several years, the West is again turning its eyes to the countries of the Western Balkans, knowing that the stabilization of the region is crucial to prosperity in Europe. They agreed to the "Geopolitics of the European Borderlands: The Western Balkans" speakers .

The moderator of the discussion, Jovac Kovacic, President of East West bridge and President of the Serbian National Group of the Trilateral Commission, started making a summary of the fragile balance in the region and stressed that "the stabilization of the border is of great importance for the whole of Europe."

CSR Vice-President for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic, Heather Conley , analyzed the American view of the Middle East countries' history, as well as a historical review of how the United States viewed the countries of the Mediterranean Basin before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Referring to the countries of the Western Balkans, he said the United States knows how to help the region. He added that their interest was revived, due to Russia and China, which also showed keen interest.

Deputy Foreign Minister George Katrougalos made a brief analysis of Europe and how the European countries face the Balkans, stressing that there are different approaches to some issues, especially in terms of European enlargement. However, he stressed that Greece has bilateral co-operation agreements with all the countries of the Western Balkans, as it wants to play an important role in the region. He even noted that with Albania, Greece is too close to resolving all issues.

New Democracy Foreign Minister George Koumoutsakos recalled the wars of the region and stressed that "the period of the 90s taught us that we must keep the Balkan" ghosts "in sleep." He expressed the conviction, his own and the main opposition party, that the future of the Balkans is a European affair, considering that enlargement should be done without disturbing the balance within the EU. or NATO. That is why, he said, bilateral issues between countries must first be settled. "The future of the Balkans will either be European or will be traumatic," he concluded.

Britain's interest in the region of the Western Balkans was confirmed by Kate Smith , Ambassador of Greece to Greece . It enumerated the problems that need to be solved within countries, such as extreme voices, great crime, media interventions and much more. All this makes the countries vulnerable to the external factor, said Ms. Smith, underlining the concern in London of the growing influence of Moscow and Beijing in the Western Balkans.

Dr. Ivo Josipovic, a former Croatian president and a professor at the University of Zagreb , made a historic review of the positions of the Western Balkan countries during the World Wars, stressing that tensions between the countries in the region have been going on for decades. Referring to Croatia, he estimated that the country was going better and better by 2013, but since then things are backward. By listing the obstacles to joining the common European future of the countries in the region, he spoke of low democratic standards, low living standards, tensions between countries, corruption and increasing nationalism. While among the problems, he put the issue of the name of FYROM.

The problems of the countries of the Western Balkans were also held by George Ciamba , Foreign Minister for Romania's bilateral and strategic affairs , despite the fact that his country managed to achieve very strong growth rates by undertaking a series of reforms. The Minister urged Europeans to act together to pursue reform efforts in the Balkans and tackle various issues such as crime, security and extremism.

"Jihadism" is the number one security problem in the Western Balkans, said Spyridon Litsas, assistant professor of International Relations at the University of Macedonia , stressing that Salavism has been there for centuries. Mr. Litsas analyzed the roots of jihadism, considering it to be a dominant trend. He stressed the difficulties in his approach, as well as the fact that it is a huge problem for the security of the countries.

The West has lost interest in the Western Balkans in recent years, said Constantina Botsiou, Director of the Institute of Democracy, Konstantinos Karamanlis , but added that this interest has been re-emerging lately. Ms. Botsyu, also referred to the issue of Russia and China, but he also put in the frame and Turkey trying to confirm its validity. Concerning the name issue of FYROM, he stressed that "mutual respect for identities is the basis for the settlement of disputes".

Dr. Lars Hansel, Head of the Europe-North America Department of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung University in Germany , highlighted China's ambiguous role in the region, saying its contribution to the stabilization of the Western Balkans is important for the European Union.

The annual conference is organized under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos from the non-profit corporation Delphi Economic Forum. The event is organized with the support of the Region of Central Greece and the Municipality of Delphi.