IEP Lunch Debate with Doris Pack: “Perspectives on Stabilization and Integration of the Western Balkan States”
On 2 May 2012, Doris Pack, Chairwoman of the Committee for Culture and Education and a member of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo, discussed the numerous challenges of EU integration both individual Balkan countries as well as the region as a whole are facing in an IEP lunch debate entitled “Perspectives on Stabilization and Integration of the Western Balkan States.” Pack emphasized that EU involvement in the area should not be viewed as exclusively altruistic, as a stable southeastern Europe will present much less of a threat to the EU than one festering in joblessness, growing nationalism, and corruption. The Balkans can also not be viewed as a single entity treatable with a single solution—despite regional parallels, each country must be approached individually and carefully. Finally, in order to avoid later complications as in the cases of Romania and Bulgaria, each country must completely fulfill all EU entry criteria before receiving a set date of EU accession.
Pack also explored a variety of transnational issues threatening Balkan stability. She criticized Greece for its refusal to grant the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia rights to the single name Macedonia. This superficial disagreement may inadvertently ward off Macedonia’s interest in EU integration and potentially jeopardize regional stability. She also voiced her disapproval that certain EU member states have not yet recognized Kosovo as an independent state, and pointed to the continued tensions between Serbia and Kosovo as Serbia’s most pressing issue. In the following discussion, audience members had the opportunity to direct further questions to Doris Pack. One of the most thought provoking contributions was that of a lawyer from Sarajevo, who condemned the stubborn, immobile, and corrupt power structures in the Balkan states that entirely prevent younger, EU-friendly progressives from acquiring influential positions in government. This particular question reflected the general theme of the discussion focusing on the importance of involving youth in Balkan political processes.