Western Balkans: a tea cup in a storm?

Public talk with the President of the Republic of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi.


Hashim Thaçi, President of the Republic of Kosovo

Chaired by

Jeremy Shapiro, ECFR’s Research Director

Europe faces no shortages of crises. In the East, Russia continues its efforts to destabilise Ukraine and bring down the European security order. The war in Syria rages on with no end in sight, Libya is still teetering on the verge of collapse and the refugee crisis won’t be solved any time soon. All the while, Europe faces multiple internal challenges from the prospect of Brexit to the rise of populist and far-right parties to terrorist attacks in its cities.

News from the Western Balkans has not been great either: politics in Macedonia has entered a dangerous modus operandi of ever increasing antagonism; Serbia just had elections in which the far-right made substantial gains; Montenegro will join NATO but scenes of clashes in the streets and parliament reflect a deep division in society, and Bosnia remains in perpetual stasis. 

Kosovo also faces its fair share of challenges. The opposition has taken to the streets to protest against agreements signed with Serbia. The dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia continues but the ultimate goal of normalisation still seems far off. At the same time Kosovo has made headway in moving closer to the EU with the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and visa liberalisation. 

But what comes next for Kosovo? What effect will the new Serbian government have on the prospect of normalisation? Will the five non-recognising states eventually recognise Kosovo’s independence? Or will they prove to be stumbling blocks on its path towards European integration? Does Russia’s increased role in the Western Balkans have an impact on Kosovo’s European trajectory? And how will Kosovo’s relationship with the EU and NATO develop in the coming years?

Hashim Thaçi (@HashimThaciRKS) is President of the Republic of Kosovo. He was elected in the beginning of 2016. Previously he has served two terms as Prime Minister of Kosovo. A well-known figure in Kosovo and beyond, President Thaçi has played an integral role in shaping Kosovo's recent history over the past two decades.

Jeremy Shapiro (@JyShapiro) is ECFR’s Research Director. Previously he has been a fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings as well as a member of the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff.

The event will start at 11 am.

Please, register at [email protected].