On June 2nd 2010, the Spanish Presidency of the European Union is hosting in Sarajevo a high-level summit dedicated to the relationship between European Union and the Western Balkans. The summit is supposed to underline the European Union’s commitment to the ‘European future’ of the Western Balkans. The summit is taking place ten years after the Zagreb summit and seven years after the Thessaloniki summit where the European integration of this part of Southeast Europe was clearly described as the shared goal of both the EU and the countries of the region. In preparations for the Sarajevo summit, the European Union, Institute for Security Studies from Paris and a Sarajevo-based Foreign Policy Initiative BH organised a two-day conference “The Western Balkans: the path to European integration”.
The conference brought together politicians, government and EU officials, NGOs, and scholars such as current High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina Valentin Inzko, the former High Representative and current Slovak foreign minister Miroslav Lajcak, the US ambassador in Bosnia-Herzegovina Charles L. English, the head of the EU delegation in Sarajevo and future director of DG Enlargement Dimitris Korkoulas, Hannes Swoboda and Zoran Thaler from the European Parliament, Srdjan Dizdarevic, the former head of the Helsinki Committee in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Veton Surroi, the founder of Pristina daily Koha Ditore, as well as specialists of Central and Eastern Europe such as Jacques Rupnik and Alina Mungiu Pippidi.
During the two days of the conference, the issues debated included, among other things, the passage from conflict management to European integration, the problems related to state-building, borders and ethnic conflict, the rule of law, democratic governance, civil society and citizenship as well as a European roadmap for the Western Balkans. CITSEE was also invited to present the results of our research and was represented in Sarajevo by CITSEE post-doctoral fellow Igor Stiks. The conference participants were especially interested in the role of the EU in ‘Europeanisation of citizenship’ in the post-Yugoslav states. Igor Stiks described EU’s influence or often a lack of influence on citizenship regimes in the Western Balkans. He also pointed out the consequences of ethnocentric citizenship legislation on the general political dynamic in the region but also the effects, attended and unattended, of the visa liberalisation process that could be seen as the most direct intervention of the EU in the citizenship regimes of new states in Southeast Europe. For further reading on this topic, we recommend Jo Shaw’s paper “The constitutional mosaic across the boundaries of the European Union: citizenship regimes in the new states of South Eastern Europe” as well as the description of the scope, goals and methodology of the CITSEE research on “The Europeanisation of Citizenship in the Successor States of the Former Yugoslavia” .