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Moving forward: How can the Croatian and German EU presidencies make 2020 a successful year for the EU’s Western Balkans policy?

20. November 2019, 12:00 - 14:00


The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Brussels and the Western Balkans Strategy Group to the following expert discussion:

Moving forward: How can the Croatian and German EU presidencies make 2020 a successful year for theEU’s Western Balkans policy?

Date                Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Venue             Leopold Hotel, Room Eleonore, Rue du Luxembourg 35, 1050 Brussels

Time               12:15 – 2:00 p.m.

Croatia and Germany will hold the EU Council Presidency in 2020. Both states have aspecial responsibility towards the Western Balkans: after Slovenia, Croatia is the second former Yugoslav state that joined the EU. Germany is perceived in the region as the leading power in the EU and, at the same time, the most important advocate for the further stabilisation of the region through EUintegration. This seems all the more urgent in view of recent setbacks – the rejection of Northern Macedonia and Albania by the European Council. However, the forthcoming presidencies are not only associated with positive expectations, but also with fears: in Croatia, positions reminiscent of the nationalist agendas of the 1990s are being adopted up to the highest government circles. How can agovernment that is allying itself with Croatian nationalists in its immediate neighbour, Bosnia-Herzegovina, become an advocate of peaceful, democratic development in its neighbouring countries as part of the EU integration process?

Germany continues to enjoy a high reputation, but is regarded as too weak or too indecisive to implement a proactive, reform-friendly Balkan policy within the EU. There are also frequent accusations that Berlin, too, is focusing more on stability through partnership with authoritarian heads of government than on democratic reform based on the rule of law.

Despite these fears, how can the Croatian and German EU presidencies make 2020 a successful year for the EU’s Western Balkans policy? What are the priorities, what are the mistakes to be avoided from the point of view of civil society actors from the Western Balkan states?


12:15 – 12:30             Registration

12:30 –12:35             Welcome by Eva van de Rakt, Head of Office, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Brussels

12:35 – 14:00

Expert discussion with:

·        Lejla Gačanica, Independent consultant and Researcher (Sarajevo) on Croatia’sEU presidency: A particular challenge and responsibility

·        Fisnik Korenica, Group forLegal and Political Studies (Pristina) on Serbia andKosovo: Realistic steps towards normalisation instead of quick fixes

·        Petar Todorov, Institute ofNational History (Skopje) on NorthMacedonia and Albania: How to keep momentum

Comment by Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament, The Greens/EFA, (tbc)

The expert discussion will be moderated by Walter Kaufmann, Head of East & Southeast EuropeDivision, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Berlin

Thisinvitation is personal and the eventwill be held under the Chatham HouseRule*. We hope you will be able to join us and kindlyask you to register until November 15.


20. November 2019
12:00 - 14:00


Leopold Hotel, Room Eleonore
Rue du Luxembourg 35
Brussels, 1050