Vuk Jeremić lectures at the Academy of Young Diplomats
At the invitation of the European Academy of Diplomacy, CIRSD President Vuk Jeremić held an online lecture entitled “Geopolitics of Western Balkans: Is Regionalization the result of the pandemic in the region?” at the Academy of Young Diplomats (AYD) on January 21st, 2022.
Established in 2004, AYD is a top-tier postgraduate diplomatic Program, which empowers a new generation of global leaders. This year, a selected cohort of approximately 120 promising young talents from around the globe gathered to learn about the complex geopolitical situation on the Balkan peninsula during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reflecting on the influence of powerful global players in the Western Balkans, Jeremić pointed out that Brussels has abdicated its geopolitical role in the region, thus opening new space for other actors. He underlined that the influence of the Russian Federation and Turkey has been present for centuries, and that China is the only new variable in the equation. He added that the United States has recently started showing some more interest in the region, and that we could bear witness to the U.S-China clash for influence in the upcoming years.
In his remarks, Jeremić expressed concerns about the way governance is carried out in the Balkans, especially in terms of EU accession efforts. He reiterated his position that the Serbian government has not been a champion of good governance, robbing the country of the opportunity to be considered in near-future enlargement. On the other hand, while Brussels is saying that the EU perspective in the region has to exist, it is de facto nurturing autocracy in the Balkans. Jeremic noted that the EU is currently not ready to accept new members due to its internal frictions and is mostly focused on resolving them.
Commenting the Open Balkans initiative, Jeremić expressed his concerns about the lack of transparency around the deal. He explained that while the idea was good in theory, the deal was deprived of proper institutional procedures. This issue raises a variety of questions about organized crime and security of the participating countries. Referencing the sharp rise in criminal activities involving many of the region’s governments, Jeremić remarked that “the Western Balkan governments can sincerely work with each other when it comes to organized crime. And I don’t mean combating it.” He added that the deal around the Open Balkans initiative was definitely done hastily, mainly for PR purposes and political self-promotion of the signees.
CIRSD President concluded that the Western Balkan countries are not going to join the current version of the European Union. Instead, there needs to be a fundamental change within the EU: “Serbia is a European country, but EU membership is not possible without the interest and engagement from Brussels”.
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