ESI conference in Berlin - Communicating Europe

22 February 2008
Group photo at Checkpoint Charlie
Group photo at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin Mitte

As part of ESI's new project – Communicating Europe – senior West Balkans officials working on issues of European integration met in Berlin from 21 to 22 February to discuss German Perspectives on Enlargement. This conference was organised with support of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and was the second in a series of four, following a conference in Vienna and preceding events to be held in Paris and Rome. The purpose of the Communicating Europe project is to familiarise the participants with the national debates on Europe and the future of enlargement.

The participants of the Berlin conference were leading figures from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Macedonia. Speakers from politics, media and civil society presented a picture of Germany's perspective on the West Balkans and the future of enlargement.

The conference started on Thursday afternoon with talks by representatives of the Bundestag, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as influential think tanks. This was followed by a working dinner at the British Embassy, attended by the ambassadors of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro. On Friday, reporters from German television as well as print media sought to convey an impression of the coverage West Balkan countries receive. The conference ended with a final dinner, providing a further opportunity for frank discussion.

Participants included, among others, Osman Topčagić (Director of the Directorate for European Integration, Bosnia-Herzegovina), Albert Gajo (Deputy Minister of European Integration, Albania), Igor Davidović (EU SAA Chief Negotiator, Bosnia-Herzegovina), Boris Vujčić (Deputy Chief EU negotiator, Croatia) Darija Ramljak (Assistant Director of the Directorate for European Integration, BiH) Arben Kashahu (Secretary General of the Ministry of European Integration, Albania) and Tanja Misčević (Director of the European Integration Office, Serbia).

Speakers included, among others, Gunther Krichbaum (German Bundestag, Head of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union, CDU),  Johannes Jung (German Bundestag, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, SPD), Gerhard Almer (Head of the EU-External Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Andrea Böhm (Journalist, Die Zeit), Caroline Fetscher (Editor, Tagesspiegel), Ulrike Guérot (Head of the Berlin Office of ECFR),  Sandra Breka (Head of the Berlin Office of the Robert Bosch Stiftung), Thomas Morawski (reporter/editor at Bayerischer Rundfunk), Rainer Stinner (Member of the Defence Committee and a Deputy Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, FDP), and Michael Weichert (Programme Manager for South East Europe, FES).