Conference. The Western Balkans after Brexit, Beyond Trump, and Towards Progress

Friday, February 2, 2018
9:00am - 5:00pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building, 420 W 118th St)

Please join us for a one-day conference organized by Professor Tanya Domi (Harriman Institute), featuring keynote speaker Professor Florian Bieber (University of Graz; Director, Centre for Southeast European Studies).

The election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States and the UK’s decision to exit the EU have shifted the Atlantic order. The consequences of an Anglo-American retreat from constructive international engagement will be felt globally, but perhaps nowhere more so than the Western Balkans. Politically and historically wedged between the competing geopolitical, economic, and cultural influences of the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Turkey, the countries of the former Yugoslavia are particularly susceptible to international flux.

We convene these panels at a time of urgency in international and regional affairs. But we do so with an eye not merely on the potential crises but also the too often under-reported success stories: Macedonia’s civil society-led government change, Montenegro’s accession to NATO, the contested but nevertheless important legacies of war crimes prosecution and transitional justice, the progress on LGBT and minority rights legislation, and the still ongoing process of Euro-Atlantic integration, newly energized within the context of the so-called Berlin Process.

In short, the Western Balkans remain a space of vibrant social contestation, of both emerging illiberal trends and the social movements who resist them; of both persistent nationalist sectarianism and remarkable reconciliation; a region still scarred by war but determined in its peace building. And, above all, the Western Balkans are a region which, even as it spans the space between integration and marginalization by and within the Euro-Atlantic community, remains inexorably embedded within the political, economic, and security architecture of the West. If this fact is often neglected by policymakers and observers in Washington and Brussels at the best of times, in the midst of a global crisis of liberal democracy, the fate of the Western Balkans is an existential question for the overall stability of the post-World War II world order and its lynchpin institutions and regimes; the U.S., the EU, and NATO.

Although we gather to discuss the fate of the region after the shocks of Brexit and the Trump election, we do so convinced of the potential for democratic renewal and progress in the Western Balkans. We convene this conference with a gathering of some of the leading critical thinkers and policy practitioners in the region today. And we do so to collectively address two guiding questions: what is the future of the Western Balkans within the Euro-Atlantic order and what is the future of the Euro-Atlantic order within the context of the Western Balkans?

8:30am – Introductory Remarks

Alexander Cooley (Director, Harriman Institute)

Tanya Domi (Columbia SIPA and Harriman Institute)

9:10am-9:50am  Keynote

Professor Florian Bieber, University of Graz, director, Centre for Southeast European Studies

10:00am-11:40am  Political Panel

​Moderator: Marko Kmezic, University of Graz

Jelena Milic, Director, Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, Belgrade, Serbia

Anna Di Lellio, Part-time Faculty, New York University and New School

Dario Cepo, Zagreb University, Faculty of Law

Emre Hatipoglu, Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Sakip Sabanci Center for Turkish Studies, Columbia University

Patrizia Nobbe, Associate Director, EU Studies Center, Graduate Center, CUNY

11:45am-12:15pm – Lunch Break
12:20pm-1:20pm – Economics Panel

Moderator: Dario Cepo, University of Zagreb

Haris Abaspahic, former adviser to the BiH Federation Prime Minister, Representative of BiH to the World Bank

Dubravka Kovacevic, Director, Foundation of Women’s Empowerment, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Miroslav Josic, Croatian Advisor to Executive Director at the IMF

1:30pm-2:45pm  Transitional Justice and Human Rights Panel

​Moderator: Tanya Domi, Columbia SIPA and Harriman Institute

Richard Wilson, Gladstein Chair of Human Rights, Professor of Anthropology and Law, University of Connecticut Law School

Goran Miletic, Programme Director for the Western Balkans, Civil Rights Defenders, human rights lawyer

Mary Ann Hennessy, Head the of Civil Society Division, Council of Europe, Strasbourg

3:00pm  Closing Remarks

Tanya Domi (Columbia SIPA and Harriman Institute)


Florian Bieber is a Professor of Southeast European History and Politics and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, Austria. He is the coordinator of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) and has been providing policy advice to international organisations, foreign ministries, donors and private investors. In the past, he has worked for the European Centre for Minority Issues. His research interests include democratization, institutional design in multiethnic states, nationalism and ethnic conflict, as well as the political systems of South-eastern Europe. He is the author of Nationalism in Serbia from the Death of Tito to the Fall of Milošević (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2005) and Post-War Bosnia (London: Palgrave, 2006) and edited and co-edited several books, including most recently Debating the End of Yugoslavia (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014) with Armina Galijaš and Rory Archer.