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ANETREC concluding conference explores EU policy and regional cooperation in Western Balkans

Key stakeholders, policymakers, and experts gathered in Maribor (Slovenia) on 11-12 September to attend the final conference of the ANETREC project (Academic network supporting EU policies towards Western Balkans with emphasis on regional cooperation based on reconciliation). It particularly touched upon regional cooperation and reconciliation and upon assessing the current state of affairs, challenges, and future prospects in the region.

The message conveyed by Oliver Varhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement commended the valuable work carried out in support of the EU enlargement policy and regional reconciliation in the Western Balkans. He especially underlined that this support was strongly needed as it provided the intellectual foundation for this intricate and demanding transformation process.

The active participation of the CEI-Executive Secretariat with Nina Kodelja, Deputy Secretary General, shed light on the role and mandate of the Organisation in promoting regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe.

In particular, the conference was organised into three main themes, i.e. I. Critical Assessment of EU Policy in the Western Balkans where experts delved into the contributions of ANETREC and the challenges faced by the current EU policy in the Western Balkans, including perspectives on EU enlargement and the influence of external actors such as China and Russia; II. Respect for Otherness, Human Rights, and Elimination of Discrimination, which explored the importance of respecting diversity, human rights, and the elimination of discrimination as preconditions for stability and democratic progress in Western Balkans societies; and III. Adoption of ANETREC Documents which considered and adopted ANETREC documents addressing the EU policy towards the Western Balkans centered on the proposal for establishing an EU reference center for the Western Balkans.

Overall, the event provided a platform for stakeholders to exchange insights and recommendations to ensure stability, reconciliation, and progress in the region.

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