Roundtable Discussion: Balkans, EU, and the U.S.

Friday, January 27, 2017
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 IAB 420 W. 118th St, 12th fl)

Transatlantic cooperation and European institutions have shaped the political, economic and social landscape of South Eastern Europe and state-building in the former Yugoslav space in particular, for the past two decades. Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia have become members of NATO. After Croatia's EU accession in 2013, the remaining six Western Balkans states are struggling to keep the momentum for European integration. The quality of the democratic process, and the rule of law and media freedom have seen a decrease over the last years. Furthermore the region continues to suffer from low growth rates, migratory pressures from within and—as made obvious by the European border crisis during winter 2015/16—from an increasing number of external intrusions and shocks.

The resolve of the European Union in supporting the development of the Western Balkans countries seems to be waning. The Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy—four out of six founding members of the Union will hold elections in 2017. Their outcome and the “Brexit” negotiations will shape the future EU and hence her relations with the six Western Balkans countries. Since the attempted coup in July 2016 Turkey has turned its attention slowly away, while the Russian Federation is consolidating its influence. The new US administration which is about to (re)shape American policy across the globe seems hardly interested in European affairs and if so increasingly in a partisan and antagonizing manner. Shared institutions like the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) face pressure in developing and defending joint standards.

The year 2017 marks 25 years since the outbreak of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the subsequent consistent building up of interlocking institutions in, with and for the region. Yet, the year 2016 saw the start of the challenging of those institutions and so far the indications are that those challenges will not end anytime soon.

This roundtable is organized by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and co-sponsored by the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Nice (France) and the University of Cologne (Germany). The Roundtable’s objective is to share and discuss which transatlantic perspectives remain pertinent and how political cooperation can be maintained in a situation dominated by nationalist discourse on both sides of the Atlantic.

Listen to a recording of the event.


12 p.m.  Welcome and introduction

Tanya L. Domi, Adjunct Professor, Harriman Institute, Columbia University

12.15 p.m.  The Balkans, the European Union and the United States - Transatlantic perspectives for 2017 and Beyond

Tobias Flessenkemper, Senior Fellow & Balkans Project Director, CIFE / Adjunct Professor at University of Cologne

Aida A. Hozic, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Florida

Jasmin Mujanovic, PhD, Policy Consultant, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung - Dialogue Southeast Europe 

1.15. p.m.  Open debate

2 p.m.  End of the roundtable discussion