International conference: Twenty Years After: Perspectives and Challenges for the Western Balkans

Kosovar Centre for Security Studies(KCSS) and Balkan Policy Research Group (BPRG) have organized the conference titled "Twenty Years After: Perspectives and Challenges for the Western Balkans" on May 29, 2019 in Prishtina. The conference was organized on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of NATO’s intervention in Kosovo.

The conference organized by KCSS and BPRG has analyzed some of the most important challenges that Western Balkans region is facing on the integration process in international organizations, including the EU, NATO and other security organizations.

In addition to local experts and representatives of Kosovo institutions, the conference has welcomed distinguished international speakers from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Hungary, Slovenia, Russia, Macedonia and Albania.

The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Hashim Thaci, stated that Kosovo is going through a period where difficult decisions should be made. Kosovo is a success story that has not yet come to  an end. Kosovo aspires the membership in the EU and other international organizations. During this journey, we need to overcome other challenges as well. We have made progress in law and order with the establishment of the Kosovo army and fulfillment of our tasks as a country.

On the other hand, Susan Falatko, Director of the Western Balkans at the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia from the US Department of State, stated that our goal, as United States, is a prosperous and sustainable Western Balkans, rooted in the rule of law and consolidated democratic institutions.

Meanwhile, Director General for European Relations at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Niels Engelschiøn, stated that: Europe is not complete without the Western Balkans. The region belongs to our continent geographically and culturally. Our security, freedom and prosperity depend on each other.

The conference proceeded with three different panels that were focused on various topics. The first panel discussed on Responsibility to Protect (R2P), an international security and human rights norm that applies in cases of the international community’s failure to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The first panel consisted of Mr. Muhamet Hamiti, former Kosovo Ambassador to the United Kingdom and professor at the University of Prishtina; Mr. Aidan Hehir, Lecturer at Westminster Univeristy, UK and Mr. Robert Wilton, International Official in Kosovo and Albania. The panel was moderated by Mr. Ramadan Ilazi, PHD Candidate in Politics and International Relations at the Dublin City University.

The second panel was focused on peacekeeping missions. The panel discussed on the current and future cooperation between the Western Balkan countries with EU, NATO, UN and OSCE in the area of peacekeeping missions. Moreover, the panel raised discussion on policy-making at the academic level to strengthen the multilateral cooperation of Western Balkan region with international actors.

The panel consisted of: Mr. Burim Ramadani, Deputy Minister of Defense of the Republic of Kosovo; Mr. Arian Starova, Chairman of the Atlantic Council of Albania and Mr. Giorgios Triantafyllou from the Southeastern Europe Program at ELIAMEP. The panel was moderated by Mr. Lulzim Peci - Executive Director of Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED).

Finally, the conference was closed with a panel discussion on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue with the aim of analyzing the international point of view on the final agreement between the two countries and Kosovo and Serbia way forward towards EU integration. The panel consisted of Mr. Blerim Shala, advisor to the President of the Republic of Kosovo and a member of the negotiation team of dialogue in the Republic of Kosovo; Mrs. Christiane Hullmann, Deputy Director for the Western Balkans at the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs of Germany; Mr. Maxim Samorukov Deputy Head of the Carnegie Center in Moscow; Mr.Peter Grk, Secretary General of Bled Strategic Forum from the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Marko Savković, program director at the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE). he panel was moderated by Ms. Donika Emini - Researcher at KCSS.