4 February 2005
ESI Brussels Brainstorming hosted by George Soros and Martti Ahtisaari

Policy-makers, officials and experts dealing with the Western Balkans participated in a discussion lead by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and George Soros (Open Society Institute). The aim of the meeting was to explore how Europeanisation and reforms that have taken place in Central Europe, the Eastern Balkans and Turkey can be extended to the Western Balkans.

There is a risk that Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia and Montenegro will fall even further behind their neighbours in their social and economic development. The widening of a development gap could jeopardise democratisation and regional stability.

ESI President Gerald Knaus and Senior Fellow Minna Järvenpää outlined ESI's main proposals in their presentations:

  • either to encourage all countries of the region, which have not yet done so, to submit an official EU membership application (as Turkey did in 1987 and Romania in 1995) - with the objective that on the 1st January 2007 all countries of the Western Balkans are also official candidates.
  • or to change the existing draft EU commisssion "Proposal for a Council Regulation Establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)" by making all five components of EU assistance in 2007 - 2013 (including regional development, human resources development and rural development) available to both candidate and potential candidate countries.

In essence this would mean that the European Commission would become the lead international actor in Belgrade, Pristina, Sarajevo, and Tirana. NDPs (National Development Plans) would be required from all countries; and the factual difference between candidates and potential candidates would largely disappear.

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