New Strategy Center organized on October 10th, along with the West University of Timisoara, the “Security Challenges in the Balkans” conference. The event brings together high ranked representatives of the institutions with responsibilities in the field of foreign affairs and defense, such as Teodor Melescanu, head of the Romanian diplomacy, Leonard Orban, presidential advisor for European affairs and general Nicolae Ciucă, Chief of the General Staff. Speakers representing the United Nations, the diplomatic corps, the institutional or academic environment in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Turkey, Great Britain, Italy, France debated in Timisoara regarding the great challenges of the Balkans, what are the EU and NATO policies towards this region which is still vulnerable from a security point of view.

The first panel of the conference, entitled ”Old and new challenges for the Balkans and European security” had the following speakers:

Chair: Mr. Dan Dungaciu |Member of the Scientific Council of the New Strategy Center|
•Teodor Meleșcanu|Minister of Foreign Affairs, Romania|
•Gencer Özcan |Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey|
•Simona Miculescu |Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office in Belgrade|
•Marc Berenson |Senior Lecturer, King`s College London, UK|

The discussion addressed the new and the old challenges for the Balkans and European security. Mr. Teodor Meleșcanu said that there is a window of opportunity regarding the Balkans for Romania, that although we have to live with the history of the region, we must look into the future and find new means of reconciliation in the area. Preventing a crisis in the Western Balkans remains the key-priority for the United Nations, as Mrs. Simona Niculescu mentioned in the discussion panel. Also, the essence in the process of the reconciliation is the trust that must be built in the citizen-state relation, affirms Marc Berenson. Mr. Gencer Ozcan reiterates the fact that Turkey remains a strong and reliable member of NATO in the region.

 

The second panel of the conference: The EU policy in the Balkans. Achivements, objectives and perceptions
Chair: Dr. Laurențiu Ștefan |Research Associate at Universitatea de Vest, Timișoara, Romania|
•Leonard Orban |Presidential adviser for European Affairs, Romania|
•Cord Meier-Klodt |Ambassador of Germany to Romania|
•Olivier de France |Research director, The French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, France|
•Iliya Lingorski |President of the European Institute for Strategy and Analysis, Bulgaria

The debate regarding the EU policy in the Balkans covered various aspects such as the capacity of Romania to provide assistance to the EU candidate-countries in the region, as an ”honest-broker”, in the accession process, as Mr. Leonard Orban said. Also, Mr. Iliya Lingorski mentioned the fact that Romania represents the natural point of stability in the Black Sea region and South-East Europe. The German Ambassador to Romania, Mr. Cord Meier-Klodt, considers that the economic integration of the Balkans represents a win-win situation for all the European countries and the pro-European position of Romania is highly-appreciated. Regarding the future of the European Union, Mr. Olivier de France affirmed that ”indifference” is the biggest threat.

The third and last discussion panel – NATO security policy in the Balkans – focused on NATO and its policy towards the Balkans
Chair: Mr. Robert Reisz |Dean  of  the  Faculty  of  Political   Science,   Philosophy   and   Communication  Sciences, Universitatea de Vest, Timișoara, Romania|
•Nicolae Ciucă |Chief of the General Staff, Ministry of Defense, Romania|
•(R) Vincenzo Camporini |Vice-president of the Institute for International Affairs (IAI), Italy|
•Arian Starova |President of Atlantic Council of Albania, Albania|
•Sandro Knezovic |Senior research associate at Institute for Development and International Affairs – IRMO, Croatia|

It was mentioned by Mr. Arian Starova that the Western Balkans need a balanced attention from NATO and the global actors and one of the challenges that the Balkans face is the hybrid threat. As Mr. Vincenzo Camporini mentioned, what is going on in the Balkans is vital for the security of the entire Europe. It was stated by Mr. Nicolae Ciucă that the NATO allies are committed to find the adequate means capable to enhance regional stability. In this regard, Mr. Sandro Knezovic says that the unpredictability of the Balkans could be the only predictable aspect.

* A selection of pictures is available in ‘Photo/video’ section.