7 December 2010
ESI discussing the enlargement of the Western Balkans
Bosnia. Photo: flickr/Kevin Botto
Axel Wallden – Kristian Vigenin – Jelica Minic – Alexandra Stiglmayer

On 7 December 2010, Alexandra Stiglmayer was one of the speakers at a conference on the Western Balkans organised by the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity in Brussels. She argued in favour of a more dynamic enlargement process, which would put the focus on accession negotiations and not on the preparatory stages that precede negotiations.

Alexandra said that there was no alternative to enlargement of the Western Balkans if long-term stability is the goal, and that a lot has been achieved since the days of war in the 1990s. She also made the point that EU accession countries make rapid progress when accession negotiations begin since this focuses minds and leads to restructuring and transformation of the administration. The conclusion was, she said, to reach the negotiations stage as soon as possible as then real and thorough reforms will begin. "If negotiations started now with any Western Balkan country, they would take a very long time," she said. "They might also be bumpy. But they would yield more results than the current situation."

The other speakers during the morning session were Axel Wallden, Head of Unit for Enlargement Strategy at the European Commission; Kristian Vigenin, MEP and Chair of the Western Balkans Task Force of the Party of European Socialists (PES); and Jelica Minic, Deputy Secretary-General of the Regional Cooperation Council.

The European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity is a platform for co-operation between currently 20 social democratic parties and 12 political foundations. It aims to contribute to the development of (social-) democracy in Eastern & South Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

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