On Tuesday, 5 June the Bled Strategic Forum and the Centre for European Perspective were honoured to host the discussion with H. E. Dr Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, President of the Republic of Kosovo and Mr Vojko Volk, State Secretary from the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia.
The event, held at Jable castle, titled ‘Western Balkans: Where do we go from here?’ focused on the discussions around the EU enlargement process with H. E. Dr Osmani pointing out that the EU now “finally, after decades, looks at enlargement as a geostrategic concept, rather as a bureaucratic process”.
While it can be discussed if this outlook has changed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine or in spite of it, the fact that Ukraine and Moldova were given candidate status shortly after submitting membership applications, did trigger a debate on whether the EU wants at all to admit the remaining Western Balkan countries to full membership. And since 19 years have passed since the adoption of the Thessaloniki agenda for the Western Balkans, other than the promises about the European perspective of the respective countries, no such concrete steps have happened with respect to their membership in the EU.
The visit of Dr Osmani to Slovenia reinforced Slovenian support for the enlargement process, with Mr Volk voicing the support for the continuation at Tuesday’s discussion, stating: “This region [Western Balkans] is our courtyard and it should all become [a part of] the EU. The sooner, the better.” A similar opinion was voiced earlier in the week by Slovenian President Pahor, who welcomed President Osmani-Sadriu on Monday with both agreeing that a strong declaration should be adopted at this year’s Brdo Brijuni Process summit (taking place this year on 12 Septembre in Brdo pri Kranju), which will give the EU a clear signal about the geopolitical importance of the enlargement process.
The lively discussion, helped in part by the active involvement of an online audience with questions, moderated by BSF Secretary General, Peter Grk, also touched upon the current situation in the Western Balkans and the public’s opinion on the enlargement process, Kosovo’s future perspective, Russian influence and the scope of disinformation from third actors in the region.
You can watch the video of the discussion here