Conference on Western Balkans

The New Geopolitics of Peace in the Western Balkans

A one-day conference on ‘The New Geopolitics of Peace in the Western Balkans’ was organised in DCU on Wednesday 24th June 2015 by the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction (IICRR) based at Dublin City University.

Videos of the main conference presentations are available here.

It brought together influential scholars and policy stakeholders to examine the most critical issues affecting peace in this region, and explore viable alternatives for building sustainable peace. The conference addressed questions on the success and limitations of European and international engagement, the prospect for durable peace in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia, the geopolitical interests of EU, NATO and Russia in the region, as well as persisting regional and bilateral tensions in the Western Balkans.

Programme

09:00 Registration
09:20 Opening remarks Prof John Doyle
Director, IICRR, Dublin City University
09:30 Welcome address Prof Brian MacCraith
President, Dublin City University
Session 1: Policy Perspectives 
 09:45 “The Balkans: Finishing the Unfinished Business” Dr Jamie Shea
Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
10:45 “What is shaping the future of the Balkans?
Domestic, regional and global dynamics”
Dr Enver Hoxhaj
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo and Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee at the Assembly of Kosovo
12:00-13:00 Lunch
Session 2: Regional perspectives
 13:00 “Evaluating the EU’s ‘new approach’ to judicial reform in the Western Balkans: unintended consequences or unrealised goals?” Prof Adam Fagan
Queen Mary University, London
 13:20 “Russian foreign policy towards the Balkans. Times are ready for the ‘Eastward’ turn?” Dr Enza Roberta Petrillo
Spacienza – University of Rome, Italy
Session 3:  Domestic Perspectives
 15:00 “The Macedonian crisis: Reaching the limits of stabilisation-over-democratisation?” Ms Elena Stavrevska
Central European University, Hungary
 15:20 “The ‘Abnormal’ Normalization of Relations between Kosovo and Serbia” Dr Gëzim Visoka
IICRR, Dublin City University
 15:50 Coffee break
 16:10 “Corporate Peace and Oligarchs in Bosnia and Herzegovina” Prof Michael Pugh
University of Bradford
 16:30 “Albania and Regional Stability in the Western Balkans” Dr Elvin Gjevori
European University of Tirana, Albania
 17:15 Closing remarks

Registration link (now closed) here

Background

Despite the progress made in the last two decades, peace in the Western Balkans continues to be affected by the persistence of domestic divisions and regional contestations, as well as external uncertainties coming from the policy changes within Euro-Atlantic community, insecurity in Europe’s eastern neighbourhood, and violent conflicts in the Middle East. The most recent crisis in Macedonia has shaken regional stability and exposed the fragile nature of peace in the region. The confrontation between Albania and Serbia has unearthed the limits of regional cooperation. The stalled dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia on normalisation of relations underlines the limits of EU diplomacy and raises fears about ethnic tensions in the region. The protracted institutional decay in Bosnia and Herzegovina has stalled domestic reforms and blocked Euro-Atlantic integration. The renewed geopolitical interest of Russia in the region has raised fears about derailing the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the region. These domestic and regional dynamics together with unresolved legacies of the past continue to shape the geopolitics of peace in the Western Balkans, and form the background for the discussions at the conference.

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