Rule of Law in the Western Balkans: Joint event of the Clingendael Institute and TEN

The Think for Europe Network, together with the Clingendael Institute, organised the “Rule of Law in the Western Balkans: Necessary Steps Ahead” panel discussion at the premises of the Clingendael Institute.

Strengthening rule of law remains a key challenge in the Western Balkans and represents one of the greatest obstacles facing the EU accession processes of the six countries of the region (Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia). Necessary steps moving forward in the area of rule of law were discussed at this event. The first panel, “Rule of Law: stagnating or backsliding,” discussed key challenges faced by countries in the Western Balkans in the area of rule of law and experiences in implementing relevant reforms especially in areas such as the judiciary and freedom of speech, as well as the fights against corruption and organised crime. The panellists for this event were Member of Parliament Anne Mulder, Member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands, Research Director of Institute Alternative (the TEN member organisation from Montenegro) Dina Bajramspahić, and research fellow of the Clingendael Institute Wouter Zweers.

“The negotiation process has flaws and should be improved, but we are surprised by the lack of understanding of the enlargement process by some member states. The problem is that our political elites only focus on elections and short-term strategies,” said Bajramspahić.

In the second panel, a researcher from European Policy Centre (TEN secretariat and member organisation from Serbia) Dragana Bajić, and Janneke Fokkema from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed problems facing the free media and freedom of expression in the Western Balkans region. “States are inventing more latent and indirect methods to shrink the space for impartial reporting, which makes the journalist’s job not only unsustainable but insecure and endangered,” noted Bajić.

The event was moderated by Head of the Clingendael International Sustainability Centre, a senior research fellow at Clingendael Institute and Coordinator of Clingendael Research on EU in the World Louise van Schaik.

Photo Credit: Clingendael