Since 1999 ESI has sought to establish itself as a respected and influential voice on South Eastern Europe. Here is what policy makers say about our analysis …

Olli Rehn
"I appreciate ESI's outstanding analysis of the Balkans and Turkey, finding it timely, relevant and consistently challenging." (November 2008)
"Thank you for your very good work in the region. I read most of your papers and I can say that you are an important initiator of ideas – according to your name, European Stability Initiative." (October 2009)

Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement

Carl Bildt
"The ESI is the nucleus of what Europe really needs in order to be able to develop a true foreign policy, crisis prevention and peace building capability - painstakingly independent and thorough analysis of truly difficult issues. Others might have been better than ESI in capturing the headlines, but no one has been better than the ESI in engaging the brains."

Carl Bildt, former Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the UN to the Balkans, 2003

Michael Steiner
"'Lessons Learned' has become a bit of a buzzword. That doesn't mean everyone understands how to do it effectively. The Lessons Learned Unit in the EU pillar of UNMIK offers an effective model. Being attached to the mission gives it access to information it needs. Being based on an NGO, the European Stability Initiative, gives it a critical degree of independence."

Michael Steiner, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General in Kosovo, January 2003

George Soros
"I am also supporting a proposal put forward by the European Stability Initiative to prevent the countries from the Western Balkans from being left out on the margins of the new and integrated Europe. ESI argues that the existing policy instruments for the Balkans should be reformed to promote social and economic cohesion. […] I am therefore supporting their call to make cohesion an explicit objective in the Western Balkans and to sustain assistance levels at such levels that the gap between the present EU candidate countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, and the countries of the Western Balkans, does not widen further."

George Soros to OSCE ambassadors, April 2003

EIU
"The study (Assistance, Cohesion And The New Boundaries Of Europe) appears to have hit a nerve and has been the subject of several high-level meetings, including with the EU's high representative for foreign policy, Javier Solana. […] The ESI report represents in many ways a departure from the conventional approach. It provides a critique of the existing mode of external involvement in the Balkans – a model that is highly intrusive, crusading, non-economist."

The Economist Intelligence Unit 2003, Country Forecast March 2003

Martti Ahtisaari
"Among the people whom I have so far met on the Balkans circuit they have the clearest view of what needs to be done… their approach is to spend enough time thoroughly researching and analysing their topics to be able to present recommendations that they feel they can stand behind also in the longer term."

Martti Ahtisaari, former Finnish president and Kosovo mediator, 2000

Joseph Ingram
ESI, through its excellent analytical work, over the past three years has on several occasions facilitated our understanding of the country and helped us in the preparation of our own assistance strategy. Its staff has also participated in several national conferences co-organised by the World Bank and BIH's government authorities, enriching the debate and deepening our understanding of the country's problems.

Joseph K. Ingram, Director, Country office Bosnia and Herzegovina, The World Bank Group, May 29th 2003

Wolfgang Petritsch
"In the short period since it has been established, ESI has quickly proven itself to be at the vanguard of providing much needed analysis for policy makers on South Eastern Europe and Bosnia Herzegovina in particular."

Wolfgang Petritsch, former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Die Welt
Die Mission des ESI: Die internationalen Organisationen auf dem Balkan aus ihrer bürokratischen Trägheit zu rütteln, dem bisweilen karitativen Übereifer der Wiederaufbauhilfe pragmatische Analysen der politischen, wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Situation des Landes entgegenzusetzen. Analysen, nicht geschrieben im Elfenbeinturm, sondern aus der Lebenswirklichkeit der von Krieg und Nationalismus verwüsteten Region.

Das ESI arbeitet - anders als viele andere Think Tanks - ohne bürokratischen Wasserkopf, effizient und handlungsorientiert. Die ESI-Mitglieder, die verstreut in ganz Europa leben und über das Internet kommunizieren, haben eines gemeinsam: Sie sind jung, sie drängen darauf, die Politik auf dem Balkan zu verändern, sie alle haben eine Zeitlang in der Region gearbeitet oder tun dies noch - bei der EU, der UNO, der OSZE oder anderen Organisationen, im diplomatischen Dienst oder als Korrespondenten von Zeitungen.

"Wir wollen eine kritische Masse in Bewegung setzen, die über das Thema Balkan diskutiert", sagt Dieter Wolkewitz. Dabei helfen erfahrene Politiker: Im Beirat des ESI sitzen unter anderen Christian Schwarz-Schilling, der internationale Vermittler für Bosnien-Herzegowina, sowie Erhard Busek, früherer österreichischer Vizekanzler und Koordinator einer weltweiten Südosteuropa-Initiative.

Tatsächlich haben vor allem die jüngsten Berichte des ESI über die Bereiche Elektrizität und Telekommunikation in Bosnien dazu beigetragen, dass die internationalen Gemeinschaft ihre Strategie neu justiert: Das ESI hatte nahe gelegt, den Ausbau von Telekom und Elektrizität nur dann finanziell zu unterstützen, wenn statt drei einzelner, von den ethnischen Gruppen kontrollierte Verwaltungen gemeinsame Institutionen von Moslems, Kroaten und Serben geschaffen würden. Weltbank und US-Wirtschaftsvertreter griffen diese Idee auf - und zitierten das ESI in ihren Planungspapieren.

Katja Ridderbusch, Die Welt, June 26th 2000

FAZ
"In der internationalen Diskussion über Bosnien-Hercegovina mehren sich indessen die Rufe nach einer grundsätzlichen Änderung der Hilfsstrategie. Eine Zukunftsperspektive gebe es nur, wenn die EU die wirtschaftliche und soziale Kohäsion in den Mittelpunkt ihrer Hilfe stelle und Bosnien in ihr sogenanntes "Vorbeitrittsprogramm" aufnehme, schreibt beispielsweise die Berliner "European Stability Initiative" (ESI). Nur wenn solch brennende Probleme wie Beschäftigung, regionale und lokale Selbstverwaltung, regionale Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklungspartnerschaften sowie der Ausbau der Infrastruktur in einer kohärenten Form angesprochen würden, komme man in Bosnien-Hercegovina weiter, sagt ESI-Direktor Gerald Knaus."

Carola Kaps, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 22th 2003

Corriere della Sera
"Tutti questi Paesi hanno un problema fondamentale, che un Recente rapporto dell'European Stability Institute di Berlino definisce così: «Oggi questi Paesi stanno confrontandosi con una realtà che l'instabilità dell'ultima decade aveva oscurato: la profondità del loro declino economico». Gli esperti puntano pertanto su un programma vigoroso di stimolo alla crescita, considerando conclusa l'epoca dei grandi aiuti alla ricostruzione dati nella prima fase della transizione post comunista."

Luigi Passamonti, Corriere della Sera, May 5th 2003

Financial Times
"For some Balkan experts, the Commission has not gone far enough. "It is all very well saying these countries will at some stage be able to join", said Gerald Knaus, director of the independent European Stability Initiative. "The Commission is still being conservative in its attitude. It has refuses to introduce a pre-accession strategy that would precisely help these countries meet the Copenhagen criteria and the acquis communautaire." [The report, drawn up by Romano Prodi, Commission President, and Chris Patten, the external affairs commissioner] also falls short of what Greece wants as president of the EU's rotating presidency. Athens has put the Balkans at the top of its foreign policy agenda […]."

Judy Dempsey, Financial Times, March 26th 2003

European Voice
"A timely warning against this cutback has come from a Berlin-based organisation, the European Stability Initiative (ESI), headed by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. It has submitted a report, "Western Balkans 2004", to EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Javier Solana, saying that the Western Balkans is facing a looming crisis of social and economic dislocation which puts at risk some of the EU's most important interests in this strategic region. It should not be allowed to fall further behind the economic development of the new member states, the report argues, and should be included in the cohesion policies practised within the EU. […] There should be an institutionalised partnership between the Commission and national and sub-national authorities, the ESI argues, and effective multi-annual programming of development efforts. In the period between 2004 and 2006, the programmes could be financed - to the extent of some EUR400m per annum - from funds left over from pre-accession aid to the ten new members."

Dick Leonhard, European Voice, January 9th 2003

 
"It is no exaggeration to say that ESI is now regarded as the most effective group thinking in depth about the issues here, which none of us actually working in Bosnia have the time - perhaps also the skills - to analyse fully."

Graham Hand, British Ambassador to Bosnia, 2001

Robert Barry
"The ESI, through its activities and excellent publications, has positioned itself as one of the most significant think tanks contributing to the international efforts in implementing the Peace Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina."

Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission, Bosnia

 
"With many years of collective experience in observing the region, ESI provides a uniquely useful and readable analysis of the contemporary situation with broad implications for policy-makers, activists and scholars of the region."

Robert Donia, author of "Bosnia - a tradition betrayed"

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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