Friends of the Western Balkans – Thessaloniki

20 years anniversary of the Thessaloniki Declaration

22 - 24/06/2023
09:00 - 18:00
Thessaloniki, Greece (Expert meeting)
Friends of the Western Balkans – Thessaloniki

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In June 2022, the network Friends of the Western Balkans, comprising members of European national parliaments and members of the European Parliament, was established with the support of FEPS, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Dialogue Southeast Europe, Renner Institut, Masarykova demokratická akademie, Kalevi Sorsa FoundationFondation Jean-JaurèsFoundation Max van der StoelDruštvo Progresiva and Olof Palme International Center.

The mission of this network, as agreed during the first meeting held in Sarajevo and confirmed on the occasion of the second meeting in Prague, is to provide more insight and information on the current political social and economic situation in the Western Balkans, the challenges ahead and the state of play of the enlargement process to parliamentarians of the EU member states, so that they can, in turn, get a better understanding and advocate – with the logistic, technical and intellectual support of the above-mentioned consortium of political foundations – for enlargement before their respective governments, parliaments and public opinions, who are often uninterested in the topic, when not outright hostile. Moreover, the network will offer opportunities for exchanges on perceptions and ideas with Western Balkan stakeholders and support closer ties between the EU and Western Balkan social democrats. 

This third meeting was held symbolically in Thessaloniki, where, exactly twenty years before, the EU member states reiterated that the future of the Western Balkans is within the European Union. Since then, this pledge has been repeatedly confirmed, but the path towards accession seems to be still long and full of obstacles. On the occasion of this meeting, members of the network and experts continued to carry on their analysis of the issues at stake – both on the EU and Western Balkan sides – and of the most recent developments in the process of enlargement. In particular, they looked at the deep geopolitical developments that have taken place since the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and look at how they have impacted the EU, the WB6 and their mutual relations. Moreover, the discussion on accession methods continued. As usual, a session focused on one of the Western Balkan countries.

Dialogue Southeast Europe (SOE)
Fondation Jean-Jaurès
Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS)
Kalevi Sorsa Foundation
Karl Renner Institut
Masarykova Demokraticka Akademie (MDA)
Olof Palmes Internationella Center
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In the media

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