European Western Balkans

Fourth ISAC Young Leaders Security Seminar concludes today


VRŠAC – Fourth Young Leaders Security Seminar, organized by International Security and Defence Centre held from 26 to 28 of September 2018 concludes today. Various experts, NGO members, political activists and students from across Serbia participated. During three days, through different panel discussions, they familiarized themselves with the most important security and political issues of Serbia and the region.

The focus of the first day was Serbia in the context of regional security, while basic challenges faces by the Western Balkans were also emphasised. The concept of neutrality and Serbia’s ability to maintain it in practice, as well as problems of the contemporary journalism, were discussed on the second day.

The final day focused on the current political and security challenges faced by Serbia. Discussion was opened with the assertion that Serbia has to start over with the political education of youth, since there was no progress in that regard. Furthermore, numerous process that had to be completed years ago, such as Serbia becoming a member of the World Trade Organizaiton, are still in progress.

The participants pointed out that every political elite that came to power after fall of Milosevic was corrupt to a certain degree. It was compromised multiple times and did not truly push for fundamental changes in Serbia. Good example for that can be Kosovo, i. e. the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

Basic question that came up was does Kosovo really represent a security challenge for Serbia and whether complete politics of Serbia should be viewed in the context of Kosovo. The majority of participants agreed that it is a security challenge, on the basis of which manipulative politics is lead.

The main problem is that the Government of Serbia prolongs the resolution of this issue, expecting a change in the structure of European Parliament on next year’s elections. It was concluded that, in the end, elections for the Parliament are not expected to have a major influence on politics towards Serbia, since it is expected that the next person heading the European Commission will be Manfred Weber from Germany.

Some participants pointed out that, after the formal signing of the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, security problem will remain, since a large number of Serbs on Kosovo remain unintegrated. Serbs in the North are basically unintegrated, while those south of Ibar river are integrated institutionally but not socially. There are, namely, many enclaves and security problems they face on a everyday level.

It was concluded that from the moment Kosovo issue is solved, political elite in Serbia will have to focus on solving the problems of an average citizen.

After this, political will for a serious tackling of EU integration process was discussed. The basic question was if the prospect of Serbia’s EU membership in 2025 is realistic. It was concluded that this goal is not achievable, since Serbia would have to close all of its negotiating chapters until 2023. It is more realistic for Montenegro to access EU before Serbia, even if Kosovo question is solved.

In the end, participants emphasised that “reforms on paper are not enough”. The meaning of European integration is adopting laws that will be implemented and function well in all areas.

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