Press Releases Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung: Western-Balkan-Six Strategy Group: EU-Presidencies in 2020 need to pursue a proactive Western Balkan policy

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung: Western-Balkan-Six Strategy Group: EU-Presidencies in 2020 need to pursue a proactive Western Balkan policy


Western-Balkan-Six Strategy Group:
EU-Presidencies in 2020 need to pursue a proactive Western Balkan policy

With regards to Croatia’s role in Bosnia, the group expresses its concern about repeated and divisive efforts in favor of a third entity

Brussels/Sarajevo/Belgrade – A recently formed Western Balkan Strategy Group in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation expressed its deep concern about the situation in the region. After the October Council non-decision, the upcoming Croatian and German EU Council Presidencies have a particular responsibility in advancing the enlargement agenda. A proactive engagement by European actors promoting EU values is needed now to fill the current vacuum increasingly used by ethnonational political forces and destructive third actors. The Strategy Group highlighted rising tensions in Balkan countries, attempts to rewrite history and hazardous revanchist tendencies.

With regards to the upcoming Croatian and German presidencies in 2020, the Strategy Group formulated strong appeals towards Zagreb and Berlin to demonstrate responsibility and commitment to further boost the EU-integration process of the WB6-countries.

On Croatia’s role towards Bosnia and Hercegovina, the Strategy group expresses its concern about repeated, divisive efforts on behalf of Croatian authorities interfering in internal Bosnia and Herzegovinian politics and by doing so undermining the fragile peace and reconciliation process not only in Bosnia and Hercegovina but also in the region. The Strategy Group calls on Croatia to strongly advocate for EU integration of the region, discourage any attempts to return to politics based on ethno-national principles and work towards making the envisioned Zagreb 2020 summit a tangible step forward for all countries of the Western Balkans towards the EU.

In the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, realistic steps towards normalization should take precedent over quick fixes. A renewed dialogue should rule out a land swap scenario, support efforts in suspending punitive tariffs and bringing about an inclusive dialogue on socio-economic integration of the Serb community and other minorities in Kosovo. Political forces working in that direction deserve European support.

To keep momentum on the reform process in North Macedonia and Albania, the Strategy Group calls on the European Council to compromise on opening negotiations with both states as soon as possible and to focus on rule of law results as a leitmotiv for the enlargement process. In the current debate on enlargement methodology, time is short, a consensus among member states should be formed quickly and the overall enlargement process and goal should not be compromised in its essence.

A policy paper outlining the group’s recommendations will be published shortly on the websites of the Foundation’s Belgrade and Sarajevo offices.


The Strategy Group consists of legal, historical and political researches from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro and was established in spring 2019 in cooperation with Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. The Group met for a 3-day advocacy visit in Brussels.

In their exchanges with representatives of Brussels-based think-tanks, the European Parliament and Commission as well as diplomats from the permanent representations of Croatia and Germany, the group makes the case for effective and credible Council presidencies for the Western Balkan region in 2020.

Contacts of the group for the press are as follows:

Lejla Gacanica, Independent researcher, Bosnia and Hercegovina,

Klejd Kellici, Lecturer of comparative politics at the University of Tirana, Albania,

Petar Todorov, Member of the bilateral multidisciplinary expert commission for historical and educational questions between N. Macedonia and Bulgaria, North Macedonia,

Fisnik Korenica, Jurist, Group for legal and political studies Pristina, Kosovo,

Daliborka Uljarevic, Executive Director of the Center for civic education Podgorica, Montenegro,

Izabella Kisic, Executive Director of the Helsinki Committee for human rights Serbia, Serbia,

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