Jun 21, 2022

Appeal by Regional Civil Society
to the Governments of EU Countries, the United States, and NATO

The Accession of the Western Balkans to the European Union
is a Geopolitical and Geostrategic Inevitability

 

 

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has fundamentally changed the European security context and raised a number of questions about the future of the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans.

Although surrounded by the EU and NATO member countries, the Western Balkans is only partially inte-grated into the Euro-Atlantic political and security structures. The ambiguous EU policy pursued over the last two decades has contributed to the regression of this region and its turn towards other partners. Rus-sia’s infiltration into the developments in the region and its influence on Serbia and (one part of) Bosnia and Herzegovina has opened the question as to where the Western Balkans actually belongs.

These new circumstances have put the Western Balkans back on the European agenda.

The EU’s enlargement policy is currently being adjusted to the new geopolitical environment, and a new accession process is being developed.

So far, despite numerous statements and initiatives related to the Western Balkans, the West (primarily the EU) has not offered real support, protection, and a concrete perspective for the region’s future.

Accession to the EU is the geopolitical inevitability of the entire Western Balkans – given Russia’s constant efforts to destabilize it.

A more efficient EU policy is not possible as long as the EU countries keep balancing between the value principles on which the EU is based and the ‘unity’ embodied in its consensual decision-making principle. This approach has disastrous consequences for the Western Balkans.

Bearing in mind a very fluid situation in the Western Balkans as well as speculation about the possibility of Putin’s opening a “second front” in the Balkans, the fears of citizens in all our countries that the situation in the region could be dramatically worsened are justified. We should not forget that, insofar as the European continent is concerned, the Balkans as a whole – particularly its non-integrated part – is the most susceptible to Russia’s influence and the escalation is underway. By preventing such devastating influence, the one-time visionary acceptance of “unprepared” Bulgaria and Romania into the EU has played a decisive role.

Due to all the reasons mentioned above, we, the undersigned, expect the following from the EU as well as the United States:

1. To eliminate any possibility of changing Balkan borders;

2. To ensure that the future and functionality of Bosnia and Herzegovina do not depend on Belgrade’s policy, which has been integrating/annexing B&H’s Republic of Srpska (RS) entity at all levels (economic, cultural, educational, and informational) without hindrance for two decades. In addition to combating corruption and radically nationalist policies, the EU and the United States should encourage the coalescence of educational and cultural space in order to build Bosnian and Herzegovinian identity apart from its particular features. Only cultural awareness and education, as the fundamental backbone of society, can guarantee integration and solidarity within Bosnia and Herzegovina.

3. Croatia’s advocacy for a new election law, which would only contribute to the further ethnic disintegra-tion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is unacceptable, and it is high time that the EU and the United States clearly condemn and prevent such policy options. Granting candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina would send a clear message to Belgrade, Zagreb and Moscow that the EU and the United States stand behind the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

3. Due to its reliance on Russia, Serbia keeps Kosovo in a state of frozen conflict. Without the mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo, the region has no European perspective. As the first step Kosovo should be granted visa liberalization for which the conditions have long been created;

4. When it comes to Montenegro, it is necessary to strongly and effectively support its European integration process, which is also the basic proclaimed goal of Montenegro’s minority government. It is also necessary to prevent interference in its internal affairs, which primarily originates from the governing structures in Serbia, with great help from the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Serbian media and security services, as well as Russia’s direct and indirect influence;

5. It is necessary to unblock the situation regarding North Macedonia’s accession negotiations. It is unacceptable that North Macedonia, which has met all EU requirements for candidate status, is still on hold due to Bulgaria’s blackmailing and destructive attitude;

6. It is necessary to help Albania, which deserves candidate status. In the opposite, other tendencies and policies are encouraged – like in all other Western Balkan countries;

7. It must be made clear that the Open Balkans Initiative cannot be an alternative to EU membership. Chancellor Scholz announced the revival of the Berlin process which, coupled with increased control by Berlin and Brussels, opens up prospects for more intensive regional cooperation on which the EU insists, as the basis for continuing the European path for all countries in the region, based on their individual merits and achievements;

8. To continue without compromise with strengthening the security and legal mechanisms in all the countries of the Western Balkans in the fight against corruption and organized crime within the state apparatus, corporations and society in whole.

Bearing all this in mind, Europe and the United States must boost their military, political and economic involvement in the region in order to prevent the further malignant influence of non-Balkan and non-European factors. At the same time, it is necessary to maintain an active relationship with the pro-European opposition and political structures in all countries in the region as well as with the authentic civil society in order to confirm and strengthen the support for the Euro-Atlantic orientation and future of the Western Balkans.

 

Dr. Prof. Ivo Komšić, sociologist, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Dr. Vesna Pusić, former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Croatia

Dr. Prof. Edina Bećirević, University, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Momcilo Radulovic, President of European Movement, Montenegro

Dr. Prof. Zarko Korać, psyhologist, Srbija

Azem Vllasi, lawyer, Kosova

Sonja Biserko, president of the Helsinki Committee, Serbia

Petar Todorov, historian, North Macedonia

Tamara Nikčević, journalist, Montenegro

Dr. Boris Varga, journalist, Serbia

Shkelzen Maliqi, writer, Kosova

Dr. Prof Husnija Kamberović, historian, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Dr. Prof. Dubravka Stojanović, historian, Serbia

Dr. Prof. Dinko Gruhonjić, University in Novi Sad, Serbia

Dr. Milivoj Bešlin, istorian, Serbia

Miodrag Vlahović, former Ambassador and president of the Montenegrin Helsinki Committee, Montenegro

Dr. Aleksandra Bosnić-Djurić, culturologist, Serbia

Dr.Prof. Nikola Samardžić, historian, Serbia

Dragan Banjac, journalist, Serbia

Boško Jakšić, journalist, Serbia

Ylber Hysa, historian, Kosova

Adil Kulenović, journalist, Krug 99, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Senad Pećanin, advokat, Bosnia-HerzegovinaProf. Ejup Ganić, izvršni direktor Sarajevo Schol of Science and Technology, BiH

Sladjan Tomić, journalist, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Izabela Kisić, executive director of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Srbija

Akad. Prof. Rusmir Mahmutčehajić, president of the International Forum Bosnia, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Jelena Krstić, political scientist, Serbia

Andro Martinović, film director, Montenegro

Balša Božović, president of the Regional Academy for Development of Democracy, Serbia

Rade Radovanović, journalist, Serbia

Nerzuk Ćurak, University Professor, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Srećko Djukić, Ambassador, Serbia

Dušan Mijić, enterpreuner, Serbia

Aleksandra Jerkov, founder of the Regional Academy for Development of Democracy, Serbia

Dino Mustafić, theater director, Bosnia-Herzegovina

mr.sci. Memnuna Zvizdić, Regional Women Lobby, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director of the Center for Civic Education, Montenegro

Stefica Galic, Editor of Tacno.net Portal, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Milan Jovanoović, president of the Forum for Security and Democracy, Serbia

Prof. dr Duško Radosavljević, Faculty for Legal and Business Studies, Serbia

prof dr. Mehmed Slezović, painter and art theorist, Serbia

Tanja Petovar, lawyer, Serbia

Srdjan Sušnica, Master’s degree of cultural and religious studies, lawyer, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Zlatko Lagumdžija, former Foreign Minister, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Nada Drobnjak, Regional Women Lobby, Montenegro

Zoran Vuletić, president of Civic Democratic Forum, Serbia

Tanja Šuković, journalist, Monteneggro

Darko Šukovic, journalist, Montenegro

Ivana Šundić Mihovilović, journalist, Serbia

Davor Gjenero, politologist, Croatia

Andrej Nikolaidis, writer, Montenegro

Tinka Đuranović, sculptor, Montenegro

Draško Đuranović, Editor of Pobjeda, Montenegro

Đorđe Šćepović,writer, Montenegro

Milorad Pustahija, journalist, Montenegro

Rajko Todorović Todor, painter, Montenegro

Boro Kontić, journalist and writer, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Rade Bojović,lawyer, Montenegro

Miodrag Strugar, communicator, Montenegro

Danilo Burzan, journalist and writer, Montenegro

Majda Šahman Zaimović, University Professor, Montenegro

Kaćuša Krsmanović, journalst, Montenegro

Vladimir Šibalić, Lawyer, Montenegro

Janko Ljumović, professor FDU, Montenegro

Andrej Nedović, economist, Montenegro

Nada Bukilić, playright, Montenegro

Jelena Đurović, journalist, Montenegro

Momčilo Zeković, artist, Montenegro

Ljubomir Filipovic, political scientist, Montenegro

Danilo Marunović, film director, Montenegro

Aleksandar Saša Zeković,activist, Montenegro

Šeki Radončić, writer and journalist, Montenegro

Miodrag Živković, lawyer, Montenegro

Izudin Gusmirović, economist, Montenegro

Irina Peckova, economist, North Macedonia

Ines Sabalić, journalist, Croatia

Raif Dizdarević, former Foreign Minister of SFRY, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Lula Mikielj, activist, Serbia

Pavel Domonji, political scientist, Serbia

Edin Omerčić, historian, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Andrea Lešić, Literature and Culture Theorist, Univerzitet u Sarajevu, Bosna-Herzegovina

Zilka Spahić Šiljak, University Professor of Gender Studies, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Aleksandar Obradović, anthropologist, Director of Philopolitics Association, Srbija

Prof.dr. Ivan Obradović, Belgrade University, Serbia

Nebojša Kaludjerovi, Ambassador, Montenegro

Prof,dr.Amila Buturović, Toronto York University, Canada

Slobodan Beljanski, lawywr, Serbia

Dr Adnan Prekić-Historian, Montenegro

Jakob Finci, writer, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Nenad Prokić, playwright, Serbia

Prof. dr Šerbo Rastoder, Academic, Montenegro University, Montenegro

Prof. Dr. Edin Šarčević, Law School Leipzig, Germany

Srdjan Dvornik, translator, consultant, Croatia

Xhezair Dashi, journalist Albanian Post, Albania

Prof. Asim Mujkić, University Sarajevo, Bosna-Herzegovina

Žarko Papić, director IBHI (Nezavisni biro za humanitarna pitanja), Bosnia-Herzegovina

Zlatoje Martinov, writer and publicist, Serbia

Mirsada Čolaković, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Reuf Bajrović, Vice President of the US-Europe Alliance in Washington, DC, USA

Prof. Senadin Lavić, Faculty of Political Science, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Ljilja Spasić, Executive Director, Civic Actions, Serbia

Staša Zajević, Wo

Vera Ranković, journalist, Serbiamen in Black, Serbia

Isidora Farley, UK

Bashkim Shehu, writer, Albania

Akademik Slavo Kukić, sociologist, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Prof. dr. Fahira Fejzić-Čengić, Faculty of Political Science, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Lirim Dullovi, journalist, North Macedonia

Amina Rizvanbegović Džuvić; Bošnjački Institut, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Arben Retkoceri, journalist, North Macedonia

Darko Mrvos, entrepreneur, Serbia

Svetlana Cenic, economist, Bosnia-Herzegovina