“Common past must be on the London Summit agenda”

Western Balkans countries' flags during Berlin process
Western Balkans countries' flags during Berlin process

BELGRADE – Coordinator of the Initiative for RECOM Nataša Kandić said at today’s conference entitled “The Berlin Process – What’s Next?” that the Berlin Process has shown that there is still no common perspective of the past in the region.

The conference was organized by the European Movement in Serbia, and alongside Nataša Kandić, was attended by the Secretary General of the European Movement in Serbia (EPuS) Suzana Grubješić, Deputy Head of the Department for Regional initiatives EU Sector Kristina Milosavljević, Secretary General of the Regional Office for Youth Cooperation (RYCO) Đuro Blanuša and a researcher from the Institute for Research of Civilizational Dialogue from Berlin, Matteo Bonomi.

The topic of the meeting was the question of why the Berlin process is still needed and whether it has become the backbone of regional cooperation.

“The Berlin process began with a strong accent on reconciliation, and then it slowly withdrew into the background, until the Trieste Summit, when, thanks to civil society, it again became a topic – both within the process and beyond”, Kandic said.

In her opinion, what should be on the agenda of the upcoming London Summit is the initial formation of a common perspective on the question of the, through the Intergovernmental Commission of RECOM.

She has added that “reconciliation lasts forever for us and will stay as the obligation of the young”, and that RYCO’s goal, as it is one of the most important results of the Berlin Process, is to “nurture and develop reconciliation”.

“RYCO is one of the most visible effects of the Berlin Process, and it has been so successful due to clear political support. We still have a lot of prejudice and stereotypes among young people, and it is good that the (European) Commission has brought back reconciliation into its documents. I think that the idea of ​​reconciliation was missing at the beginning of the Berlin Process”, said RYCO Secretary General Djuro Blanuša.

He has also said that the earlier regional cooperation efforts were focused on economic issues, such as energetics, but that without proper reconciliation the concept of economic integration “misses the point”.

“A question which does not arise is: if all roads and bridges are made, who will be the people crossing them”, he said.

Berlin process has played a useful role in the period of stalemate in the enlargement process and has preserved the dynamics in the relations of the region with important countries, to EPuS Secretary General Suzana Grubješić stated.

“It remains to be seen what will happen at the London summit in July, as the whole agenda is focused on enlargement, as well as what is waiting for us after London – will the Berlin process continue and whether Poland is the place to hold the next summit?” Grubješić said.

According to Jelica Minić from EPuS, the Berlin Initiative certainly played an important role in the preparation for the new EU Enlargement Strategy published in February, as much of what was done within it was used to a large extent.

The conference participants noted that the circumstances in Europe and in the whole world have changed significantly since the Berlin Process began, that Brexit was “not in sight at the time”, and that the US President was not Donald Trump at the time, as well as that in the current light the future of this process should be considered.

Next summit in the framework of the Berlin Process will be held on July 9 and 10 in London, where it is expected that the Declaration on the Founding of RECOM will be signed by the Prime ministers of Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro.