Delegation of the European Union to Russia

Western Balkans – an area of competition or cooperation between the EU and Russia?

Moscow, 21/11/2018 - 08:41, UNIQUE ID: 181121_24
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The next EU-Russia Expert Network meeting (EUREN) on 23 November in Vienna will be dedicated to the policy of the EU and Russia in the Balkans.

At the seminar that will be opened by Markus Ederer, European Union Ambassador to the Russian Federation, foreign policy experts from the EU and Russia will explore the state of internal and regional developments, including politics, economies and societies in the Western Balkans. They will reflect jointly on EU and Russian policies towards the region and on the question whether the Western Balkans is an area of competition rather than a space for cooperation between the EU and Russia.

Almost 20 years after the end of the wars on the territory of former Yugoslavia, the Western Balkans, geographically surrounded by EU Member States, continues to face serious challenges. First, comprehensive and convincing political reforms are still required in crucial areas, notably on the rule of law. Second, the region's economies face structural weaknesses, leading to low competitiveness and high unemployment. Third, there are still important bilateral disputes between countries in the region which remain to be solved. The EU has long been strongly engaged in the region supporting the future of the region as an integral part of the EU. Already today, the Western Balkans benefit from substantial EU assistance, providing far-reaching access to the EU’s internal market, and detailed policy advice. The new strategy covering the Western Balkans adopted by the Commission in February 2018 foresees significant enhancement of EU support. At the same time, the region has recently seen growing engagement by other international actors such as Russia, China, Turkey, the Gulf States.

The EU-Russia Expert Network (EUREN) was initiated by the EU Delegation to Russia in 2016. It brings together former and present policy-makers from the EU and Russia, as well as scholars and analysts from prominent think-tanks to discuss topical foreign affairs. Network's meetings are organized under the "EU-Russia Public Diplomacy" project with the aim of facilitating a long-term engagement between the EU and Russia.

EUREN Chronicles and the EUREN interim reports are available on the website of the EU Delegation to Russia.

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