According to Garčević, the EU’s response to insecurity in the Western Balkans speaks more about Brussels’ concern that instability in Ukraine may spill over to the Balkans than the Union’s genuine intention to reinvigorate EU integration of the region.
Are the Balkans vulnerable to Russian influence amidst its continued military campaign in Ukraine? How can Western powers keep the door open to negotiations with Russia while also providing Ukraine with aid? Ambassador Garčević explains.
Whether in Ukraine or Bosnia and Herzegovina, NATO is struggling to balance how to stay out of potential or ongoing conflicts even though the outcomes are deemed critical for NATO’s goals in Europe. Ambassador Garčević offers his thoughts on the situations in Ukraine and the Balkans.
Ambassador Garčević argued that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a moment for the EU to radically re-evaluate its stagnant enlargement process; he proposed that Brussels develop a multi-step EU integration process, creating intermediate goals before the full inclusion into the Union,
While individual appointments don’t change the U.S. policy towards the region, Ambassador Garčević argues it is excellent news to have a professional diplomat who knows the Balkans very well, especially since this is the first time since 2008 that Washington will appoint an experienced regional expert as its top diplomat in Montenegro.
By missing an opportunity to grant the candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina, open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, or grant a visa-free regime for Kosovo, Brussels puts at risk the legitimacy of enlargement in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Ambassador Garčević said that reliance on Chinese infrastructure projects and business practices risks undermining the goals of Balkan countries, which include EU and NATO membership.
Ambassador Garčević discusses the Russian invasion in Ukraine and notes how it marks a turning point for the European security architecture for several reasons.
While there are no signs of Russian direct influence in Croatia, Ambassador Garčević argues there are some reasons why a Croatian politician might take positions pleasing to Putin and his officials.
Across multiple interviews, Ambassador Garčević discusses issues facing Serbia including the role of the U.S. and EU in the region, Russia and the Balkans, as well as the country’s military expansion and how that is perceived by others in the region.
The EU’s appetite for enlargement has waned, which allows for illiberal tendencies to flourish in the Western Balkans as there is nothing to stop a strong driving force behind them – unconstrained nationalism and populism.
Ambassador Garčević said that the West often misunderstands Turkey’s interests in the Balkans and underestimates its strength. As it turns out, in the Balkans, Turkey and NATo are not in disagreement
According to Ambassador Garčević, both the EU and the Western Balkans states have failed to deliver what they agreed on in Thessaloniki in 2003: the Western Balkan has failed to deliver comprehensive democratic reforms, the EU failed to remain politically committed to enlargement.
“The independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of BiH, Kosovo, and Montenegro are under direct threat from a revanchist regime in Serbia, one that likewise endangers the U.S. commitments to peace and stability in southeast Europe.”
During his FAES panel appearance, Ambassador Garčević argues for a new EU enlargement methodology, one that is incremental or gradual and introduces incentives for aspiring countries.
In his interview, Ambassador Garčević highlighted the need for more robust involvement of the EU and United States in the Balkans but cast doubt about their political commitment, given their global priorities.
“Unfortunately, the violent means used by the protesters in Cetinje overshadowed the legitimate reasons and revulsion felt by people in Montenegro with the inauguration being held in Cetinje.”
Professor Goldstein and Dean Najam joined fellow diplomats, professors, scientists, prominent public figures, experts, and many more as they presented to young diplomats, future leaders, and decision makers.
Garčević, notes that the EU’s traditional “power currencies” in the Balkans have been compromised and Beijing and Moscow have established themselves as viable and/or even preferable alternatives to Brussels.
“Changing faces is not enough. [The Balkans] lack modern policies, new narratives and value orientation. And I don’t see them on the horizon.”