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The Window of Opportunity for the Western Balkans

Published: April 26, 2018; 20:05 · (Vindobona)

Will the Western Balkan countries be able to take advantage of the moment and will it bring the year 2018 closer to the European Union? In February 2018, a new Enlargement Strategy was presented in Strasbourg by the EU Commission. Bulgaria, currently having the Presidency of the Council of the EU, will organize a major Balkan’s Summit in May. Austria, for a long time one of the most prominent promoters of the EU Enlargement for the Western Balkans and a country deeply intertwined with the region, will assume the EU presidency in the second half of 2018. This year represents one of the crucial moments for enlargement as major steps need to be undertaken to reach the goal of making the enlargement perspective realistic for 2025.

2018: Window of Opportunity for the Western Balkans? / Picture: © Google Maps 2018

For this reason, the Karl Renner Institute, the International Institute for Peace (IIP), the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP) and the European Parliament are organizing a panel discussion entitled "Thinking and Shaping New Balkans in 2018: Navigating the ship between old challenges and new paradigms for the future".

About the panel discussion: "Thinking and Shaping New Balkans in 2018: Navigating the ship between old challenges and new paradigms for the future"

Only a few years after the European Council in Thessaloniki in 2003 had strongly confirmed the perspective of EU integration for the Western Balkans, the EU enlargement process entered a phase of fatigue and political stalemate. Even though the technical process was kept on track and the EU Commission made large efforts to speed up the EU integration of the region, the new Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker underlined in 2014 that no enlargement would happen within the next five years. However, pressured by the looming democratic and economic crisis in the Western Balkans as well as the return of the geopolitical power struggle to the region, it was obvious that a new momentum for enlargement would have to be created in order to fill the EU perspective for the region with life.



WOLFGANG BOGENSBERGER, Deputy Head of the European Commission Representation in Austria
HANNES SWOBODA, President of the International Institute for Peace (IIP), MEP ret.
GERHARD MARCHL, Karl-Renner-Institut, Department for European Politics


MICHAEL KARNITSCHNIG, Chief of Cabinet of Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations


ADI CERIMAGIC, European Stability Initiative
RICHARD GRIEVESON, Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw)
MICHAEL KARNITSCHNIG, Chief of Cabinet of Commissioner Hahn
THOMAS MÜHLMANN, Federal Mistry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, Deputy Director, South Eastern Europe and EU Enlargement
VUK VELEBIT, Faculty of Political Sciences, Belgrade
ALIDA VRACIC, Populari, Sarajevo

VEDRAN DZIHIC, Senior Researcher at the oiip and Lecturer at the University of Vienna

18:30 Coffee Break


SAMIR BEHARIC, oiip, Global Studies, Global History Program, University Vienna
MIRZA BULJUBASIC, Socialist Youth Austria Lower Austria
DONA KOSTURANOVA, Youth Educational Form, Skopje
MARIO MAZIC, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Zagreb
DAFINA PECI, National Youth Congress, Tirana
SENADA SELO-SABIC, Institute for Development and International Relations, Zagreb

HANNES SWOBODA, President of the International Institute for Peace (IIP), MEP ret.

21:00 End

Event Details:

Organized by: Karl Renner Institute, the International Institute for Peace (IIP), the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP) and the European Parliament
Title: Thinking and Shaping New Balkans in 2018: Navigating the ship between old challenges and new paradigms for the future
Time: May 3, 2018
Haus der Europäischen Union / House of the European Union
Wipplingerstraße 35
1010 Vienna
Gabriele Walla
T: 01-804 65 01-28

Event Link:

About the Organizers

Karl Renner Institute

The Karl Renner Institute is the political academy of the Austrian Social Democratic movement. In this capacity, it foremostly aims at

> involving experts from various fields in the development and realization of new political positions by establishing a discourse between experts from various fields and the Austrian Social Democratic Party;
> generating a forum for political discussion and thus helping to introduce social democratic positions into public discussion;
> training representatives of the Austrian Social Democratic Party so that they are optimally prepared for their present and future tasks;
> fostering the organizational development of the Austrian Social Democratic Party in order to open up and modernize party structures.

In order to fulfill these tasks as well as possible, the Karl Renner Institute and its nine regional offices (one in each of Austria's federal provinces) try to orient and modify their individual programmes according to their customers' demands, needs and wishes. A broad variety of publications, debate evenings, seminars and lectures appeal at a politically interested public while special conventions and seminars aim to invite experts, teachers and educators.Besides this, the Karl Renner Institute is involved in educational work on an international level. Together with its foreign sister organizations, it especially tries to support the young Central and Eastern European democracies and to help their integration into the mainstream of European political life. Moreover, the Karl Renner Institute organizes workshops and individual consultations for functionaries, parliamentary representatives and employees of the Austrian Social Democratic Party in order to support local political work, to sound and discuss various positions on controversial political topics and to impart background information relevant to recent political questions and developments.

International Institute for Peace (IIP)

The International Institute for Peace (IIP) is an international and non-governmental organisation (NGO and INGO), with consultative status at ECOSOC and UNESCO.
The IIP pursues the objective of contributing to the maintenance and strengthening of peace through its research activities and as a platform to promote non-violent conflict resolution in different areas of the world and to a wide range of people.

Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP)

The oiip – Austrian Institute for International Affairs is an independent research institute founded in 1978 and committed to fundamental research in the field of international politics. The oiip is Austria’s leading institute on international politics and positions itself at the juncture between academic and policy oriented research. Besides international academic publishing, the Institute’s researchers are engaged in teaching, policy consultancy and public awareness raising. The oiip is part of various international research networks and collaborations.

European Parliament in Austria

The European Parliament has an Information office in every Member State. Their role is to raise awareness of the European Parliament and the European Union and to encourage people to vote in European parliamentary elections. What does that mean in practice?

The information offices
> answer questions from the public about the European Parliament and EU policies; provide citizens with information and materials and organise presentations and debates on European topics
> organise press briefings and keep the media informed of news from the Parliament
> work closely with teachers and academic organisations and provide educational resources
> develop links with professional groups, companies, non-governmental organisations and anyone else who has an interest in European affairs and the role of the European Parliament.