“The spirit of our endeavour is, To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield”
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, President
The futures of integration
Rome – 7-8 October 2014
The Balkans are an important region both for the EU and NATO, where the two institutions have traditionally worked hand in hand, achieving results that represent a success for the Berlin plus framework. The continuation of this collaboration is important for the strengthening of the European integration and for the transatlantic link alike.
This conference is an absolute first in EU presidencies, marking a new approach in public diplomacy namely a co-operation between NATO, through the well-known private NATO Defense College Foundation, and an important member state like Italy. The method consists in achieving useful synergies between the Balkan Trust for Democracy and the Foundation in order to enhance the culture of transatlantic relationship in a relevant European issue. The objective is to take a fresh look at the Western Balkans issue and to tackle the strategic options underpinning the different integration processes. The background of this project is complicated by the development of an arc of multiple crises that is embracing Europe and the Balkan region from South to East and by the repercussions of the last European elections against the setting of the global economic crisis.
Therefore the conference is structured into four panels with a circular structure opening with regional co-operation and logically closing with Bosnia-Herzegovina. The first panel analyses the evolution of regional co-operation vis-à-vis the perspective of the integration into the EU. The second uses the Serbia-Kosovo agreement as litmus test and case study to see how national political cultures are able to transform the scars of past wars into acceptable multi-cultural relationships.
In the third panel the speakers broach not only the nuts-and-bolts of the different accession paths, but also the fundamental issues affecting the quality and the strategic outcome of this new inclusion wave taking into account both the role of Turkey and the reverberations of the Ukrainian crisis. This background naturally influences in the short term also the reflection on Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose long-issue is the nationalistic manipulation of politics in order to escape necessary reform and social change. The European Union has a role that cannot be carried out just by default, but must be conceived in a practical and constructive way.