29 November 2011
ESI in The Hague: Discussing Macedonia and Turkey
The Hague. Photo: flickr/Andrew Griffith
The Hague. Photo: flickr/Andrew Griffith

ESI deputy chairman Kristof Bender attended a conference in The Hague organised by the Clingendael Institute: "Beyond the deadlock? Perspectives on future EU enlargement." He spoke on a panel on Turkey and Macedonia, chaired by former MEP Jan Marinus Wiersma, together with Joost Lagendijk, Senior adviser at the Istanbul Policy Center and former MEP, and the ambassadors of Turkey and Macedonia, Ugur Dogan and Nikola Dimitrov.

Besides taking stock of the accession process of these two countries, Kristof presented ESI's proposal to resolve Macedonia's name dispute with Greece and argued why a constructive way forward in the relations between the EU and Turkey would be a "visa road map" for Turkey, following the model applied to the Western Balkan countries (see: ESI's Schengen White List Project). A visa roadmap would represent a politically attractive agenda for reform. It would play to the shared interest of both the EU and Turkey – to improve cooperation in the fight against organised crime and illegal migration. Although very demanding in terms of the reforms they necessitate, the conditions of the roadmap are also relatively precise. In the case of the Balkans the visa roadmap process has proven to be EU conditionality at its best: strict but fair. Most importantly, the roadmaps have managed to deliver what they promised and – thanks to the increased cultural exchange triggered by visa-free travel – sustained the pro-European dynamic in the region.

An article by Kristof entitled "Blocked forever? Two proposals on how Macedonia and Turkey could move forward on their way to the EU" was enclosed in the Clingendael Institute's publication "Beyond the deadlock? Perspectives on Future EU Enlargement" (see pp. 19-21).

In The Hague, Kristof also had meetings with Jaap Werner, Director for Europe at the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and members of his team working on the Balkans.