29 March 2004
Slovenia-CSIS-ESI West Balkans Conference, Washington D.C.

ESI, in cooperation with The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, co-organized the high-level conference: "From Security to Development in the West Balkans” on 29th March. Marcus Cox and Gerald Knaus presented ESI research and served as chair and speaker. The policy recommendations evolving from that conference, with concrete suggestions, will soon be available on this website. (Please click here for the CSIS press-release)

The violence in Kosovo is a reminder that the Western Balkans are not stable yet, and that the role of the international community there is far from being complete. Regional security and stability are no longer threatened by inter-state conflict, but rather by perpetual economic stagnation, shortage of self-sustainable structures, and no clear perspective for the future. While Romania and Bulgaria are well on their way towards EU accession, and a decision on Turkey due in December, parts of the Western Balkans are falling miserably behind.

While regional policies committed to the process of democratic, legal and economic reforms are not negotiable and must continue, at the same time, the international community needs a strategy -- a roadmap with timelines -- to move the Western Balkans from a security zone dependent on external military and police presence, to a self-sustainable region with a clear Euro-Atlantic perspective. However, looking at 2007 when Bulgaria and Romania are scheduled to enter the EU, fresh ideas and renewed political momentum are necessary.

In order to achieve a successful transition from security to self-sustainable stability, five major issues need urgent address:

  • The nature of international presence in the region
  • The outstanding status issues
  • The quality of democracy in the region
  • The level of economic progress
  • The EU perspective

Given that EU enlargement policy is under serious strain from enlargement fatigue, a flexible approach for the Western Balkans is necessary. Above all, this approach must reward progress where significant reform has been achieved -- notably in the case of Croatia -- but also, drive political commitment to reforms where one is lacking.

About us
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com