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September 14th, 2009 von tobias

The European Commission’s proposal of 15 July 2009, recommending visa liberalisation for three additional out of now six Western Balkan countries has triggered a wide-range of political and even emotional reactions, both in the region and within the European Union.

Many statements which were since then been issued by the European Commission, EU policy-makers, politicians and civil society have not been subject to comprehensive scrutiny, which would also consider the broader political objectives of the European Union.
The proposed visa-liberalization plan as well as the general EU policy towards Western Balkans reflects EU’s serious lack of understanding of complex regional issues. It also shows EU policy makers incomprehension of possible consequences on the overall situation all over Europe.

There is a need for a more informed and holistic debate that would also critically analyse the policy of the European Union and the problem of the various sets of conditions managed by the European Commission.

A group of concerned academics, analysts and enthusiasts – from the EU but also from other countries as well as the Western Balkans – launched this initiative for a broader debate on the visa liberalization process.

The group also hopes that this debate will eventually evolve into a new and comprehensive EU strategy for Western Balkans. This EU strategy would be in the interest of both the Western Balkans, as well as the European Union itself. EU cannot hope to achieve long-term social and economic stability in Europe as long as it cannot help resolve its own internal issues and does not integrate the Western Balkans.

The responsibility of the European Commission and responsibility of local politicians are linked but separate issues. However, a better understanding of the inter-linkages as well as differences between these two will hopefully help decision-makers – both in the EU and in the potential member states of the Western Balkans – to eventually do the right thing and make European integration a reality across the Europe.

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