CIFE | Forum de réflexion | Perspectives pour l'intégration européenne des Balkans occidentaux
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A contribution to the Trieste Western Balkans Conference in July 2017

More than 80 researchers and policy analysts from think tanks and academia met in Trieste at the Central European Initiative. Participants from all EU member states and the six Western Balkans countries were invited.

The Reflection Forum was organised in an innovative manner allowing for an open and direct exchange around four key thematic areas related to the priorities of the process launched in Berlin 2014 and EU integration. It provided a platform fostering the exchange of perspectives in order to broaden the reflection about the regional developments among the policy community, the media and the general public.

Links have also been created to the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum also organised in view of the intergovernmental Conference of Trieste on 11-12 July 2017. As follow-on, in view of the next intergovernmental Conference, outreach events will be held with partners in the Western Balkans region during autumn/winter 2017/18. It is planned to convene another reflection forum during 2018.

The programme is available here.

Organised by Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome, the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Nice/Berlin and the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (CFA), Vienna.

In cooperation with French Institute for International Relations (Ifri), Prais, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Berlin, Austrian Institute for Politics (Oiip), Vienna, European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Paris, Centre for European Perspective (CEP), Ljubljana, Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory (BiEPAG), Graz, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso (OBC), Rovereto

With the support of Central European Initiative (CEI); Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France; Federal Ministry for European, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria; Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany; Friedrich-Ebert Foundation (FES), Berlin/Sarajevo.


Context and objectives

In 2014, in the wake of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, launched an intergovernmental process with the countries of the Western Balkans. Its aim is to improve cooperation throughout the region and thereby reinvigorate European integration. The first conference, organised in Berlin, was followed by one in Vienna in 2015 and one in Paris in 2016. A fourth conference will be convened by Italy in 2017.

A parallel series of conferences and meetings has been initiated by CIFE, CFA, IAI and IFRI, together with other institutions, in order to encourage a European dialogue amongst think tanks and academic institutes on the Western Balkans and their European perspective.

The “reflection forum” has created an open platform of exchange for more than 80 key experts from all over Europe to address some of the topical challenges the EU and Western Balkan countries face, from socio-economic convergence or migration security to democratisation or geopolitics.

The second reflection forum, organized in Trieste on 26-27th June 2017, is dedicated to regional cooperation and it will focus particularly on the resurgence of bilateral and regional tensions, the gap between regional cooperation in security matters and the pitfalls of gendered models of economic development. The Trieste reflection forum will also contribute to broadening the discussion about enlargement and the Western Balkans among the policy community, the media and the general public. Speakers at the forum will participate interactively in debates moderated by experienced experts and enrich thus a network between experts working in national and European administrations and institutions and researchers affiliated to European think-tanks and universities in the EU and the Western Balkans.

A series of outreach events as panel discussions throughout the Western Balkans will follow in 2017-2018 in order to nourish the dialogue initiated in the reflection fora on the European politics and EU enlargement.


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