17 Feb 2017, Munich
Europe is surrounded by unstable neighbors: The conflict in Ukraine, authoritarian developments in Turkey, and extreme corruption and increasingly illiberal tendencies in the Western Balkans are proof of an unsettling trend at Europe’s borders. At a time when the EU is struggling to prevent its further fragmentation, the accession prospects of the countries in Southeast Europe are receding, exacerbating brain drain, political apathy and reform bottlenecks in Europe’s neighborhood. Not surprisingly, the approval rates of the EU are declining dramatically in these countries. Powers like China, Russia and (in the case of majority Muslim societies such as Bosnia and Herzegovina) Saudi Arabia are stepping into the growing political vacuum in Southeast Europe, potentially threatening to undermine EU security interests. This would become even more obvious were the US to withdraw from the European theatre.
At the same time, the EU is still considered the main driver for reform and democratization by local civil societies who want to put more pressure on governments to enhance the rule of law and civil liberties. How can Europe take greater responsibility and help its neighbors to stabilize their societies? What lessons can we learn from the reforms in Georgia, and how could these be applied in Ukraine and other countries? In light of the EU’s apparent reluctance to speed up accession processes in Southeast Europe, should the Balkan countries continue to wait for the EU or rather develop a self-driven reform with visible results for their citizens?
The discussion focuses on lessons learned from unsuccessful attempts to establish governance structures in former civil war regions and reflects on what can and must be done to rebuild failed states like Libya or Syria. What strategies are needed to promote the rule of law? What are the limits to the concept of shared responsibility? What are the priorities for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals?
The conference language is English.
The Economist, London
Georgian Institute for
Strategic Studies, Tbilisi
Co-Chair, European Council
on Foreign Relations,
Regional Cooperation Council,