Co-organisers: the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) and the Open Society European Policy Institute


09.00 – 09.20 Conference Registration – Coffee
09.20 – 09.40 Welcoming Remarks

 Thanos Dokos

(Director-General ELIAMEP)

 Alexandra Tomanić

(Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans)

 Srdjan Cvijić

(Senior Policy Analyst on EU external relations, Open Society European Policy Institute)

 Ioannis Armakolas

(Assistant Professor, University of Macedonia & Senior Research Fellow, ELIAMEP)

09.40 – 11.30 First panel: The Western Balkans after the Prespa Agreement: Conflicting trends, policy ambiguities, uncertain futures?

One year since the signing of the Prespa Agreement, which was hailed as a milestone event and prospective harbinger of positive change in the region, the Balkans remain in an uncertain status. In contrast to the hopeful political change in North Macedonia, ‘stabilitocrats’ seem to still call the shots in most Western Balkan states, while the elite level and secretive negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina appear to increase the role of Balkan ‘strongmen’ yet more. The mood may become even more somber if North Macedonia and Albania do not get a clear sign from the EU in June for the start of their accession negotiations. The increasing influence by non-EU actors, the growing distance between Brussels and Washington, and the ethno-populist wave in EU member states complicate the picture even more. Even the recent political crisis in Albania is a reminder that the political and social situation in the region remains highly volatile.

The panelists will ponder the significance of smooth implementation of the Prespa Agreement and the consequences of the European Council decision for North Macedonia, Albania and the wider region. They will discuss the continued significance of the Berlin Process and other initiatives supportive of the Western Balkans’ efforts to follow the European path. Above all, the speakers will offer insights and proposals that will contribute to the promotion of democracy and EU integration in the region.


Ritsa Panagiotou

(Senior Research Fellow, Centre of Planning and Economic Research – KEPE., Athens)


Alexandra Voudouri

(Diplomatic Affairs editor-Athina 9,84fm &

Florian Bieber

(Professor of Southeast European History and Politics & Director, Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz)

 Simonida Kacarska

(Director, European Policy Institute, Skopje)

Remzi Lani

(Director, Albanian Media Institute)

11.30 – 12.00 Coffee break
12.00 – 14.00 Second panel: Towards a new European Commission: What future for Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy?

The end of the tenure of the European Commission under President Juncker is an opportunity to take stock on the merits, strengths and weaknesses of the Brussels executive when it comes to boosting European integration in the Balkans. The Juncker Commission has been criticised for neglecting the Western Balkans and effectively slowing down the accession process, while more recently, in 2018, it tried to re-energise the Western Balkans’ European perspective with a new Enlargement strategy. At the same time, the European Parliament election results and the tectonic changes in the domestic politics of several EU member states will unavoidably form a significant political backdrop to future enlargements as well as to the complex relations with Turkey and the EU’s neighbourhood policy.

The panelists will reflect on past role of the European Commission, but, more importantly, will attempt to examine the available options and propose optimal solutions for keeping the Western Balkans squarely within the European perspective. Based on their rich policy and research experience, the speakers will offer different perspectives from and about EU institutions and key member states, suggest policy solutions and, possibly, institutional reshuffles and, above all, will propose policy principles for the incoming Commission and its complex relationship to the Western Balkans and Turkey. The speakers will also reflect on the dynamics of EU’s neighborhood policy.


Angelos Athanasopoulos

(Diplomatic affairs editor, To Vima weekly)


Isabelle Ioannides

(Senior Associate Researcher, “European Foreign and Security Policy” research cluster of the Institute for European Studies & Scholar in the Department of Political Science – POLI, Vrije Universiteit Brussel – VUB)

Srdjan Cvijić

(Senior Policy Analyst on EU external relations, Open Society European Policy Institute)

Marilena Koppa

(Associate Professor, Panteion University)

Kostas Ifantis

(Professor, Panteion University & Kadir Has University, Istanbul)

14.00 – 15.00 Light Buffet lunch
15.00 – 17.00 Third Panel: Toughest nut to crack: Is Serbia – Kosovo deal within reach?

The Kosovo status problem remains the most intractable dispute in the region and certainly one holding back both Belgrade and Pristina from their respective EU accession processes. With the process under the Brussels Agreement having arguably reached its limits, the leaders of the two countries engaged in a highly controversial top level negotiations that raised the prospect of a comprehensive solution on the basis of land swaps or border corrections between the two countries. Such ideas have reportedly been welcomed by powerful international players, but were vehemently denounced by the German diplomacy and important parts of the civil society across the region. The prospect of top down solutions sparked intense polarisation in both Kosovo and Serbia. More recently, Germany and France retook the initiative through the recent Berlin Summit and the July meeting in Paris devoted to the Kosovo problem.

The panelists have significant policy and analysis experience from both the Kosovo question and the Belgrade-Pristina relations. They will debate the state of relations between the two countries and will assess the prospects for a long lasting solution on the basis on what have reportedly been different ideas and proposed solutions. The speakers will also offer their assessment in light of the German and French initiatives on the issue and also in the context of the hotly contested issue of land swap/border correction.


Nikolaos Tzifakis

(Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations of the University of the Peloponnese)


Donika Emini

(Research Fellow, Kosovar Centre for Security Studies)

Srdjan Majstorović

(Chairman, Governing Board, European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade)

Dimitris Moschopoulos

(Ambassador (ret.), former Head of the Greek Liaison office in Kosovo & former EU Mediator on Serbian Religious and Cultural Heritage in Kosovo)

Maja Pišćević

(Senior Fellow, EastWest Institute Balkans)

Vessela Tcherneva

(Deputy Director, European Council on Foreign Relations – ECFR & Head, ECFR Sofia office)

17.00 Closing Remarks