On the 22nd of March 2019, the Bulgarian Chevening Association organized in cooperation with the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Department of International Law and International Relations an International Roundtable discussion: [#WesternBalkans10yearschallenge], held at the University.
Chevening Alumni are working for a secured, stable and economically competitive Western Balkans region [WB region]. By hosting this discussion, we wanted to contribute to strengthening the cooperation and to look at what should be done to tackle the main challenges for the WB region’s integration into the EU. The EU has shown recently a renewed interest towards the Western Balkans. But it seems that it has to do more with geopolitics and the security of Europe, than with accession and unification of the continent. The Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU tried to move upward the Western Balkans on the EU agenda. Was this attempt successful and what are the prospects for a next enlargement were some of the questions discussed.
Some of the key note speakers included Lynne Charles, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Sofia, Dr. Mira Kaneva. SU St. Kl. Ohridski, Department of International Law and International Relations, Dr. Ivo Tsekov, PhD, SU St. Kl. Ohridski, Department of International Law and International Relations, Lyubomir Kyuchukov, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and member of the Council on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration to the President of Bulgaria, Rоussi Ivanov, European Affairs Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ivailo Kalfin, Chevening Alumni and Former Deputy PM of Bulgaria & Director, Economy International Relations Institute, Special advisor to EU Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger Dominic Otway, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Skopje, etc.
The discussed topics included but not limited to the following: Regional security and stability, Western Balkans as a region of strategic importance to NATO, Economic competitiveness and identity of the WB Region including sustainable development and integration path, what the region interconnectivity, economic competitiveness and innovation potential and environment will look like? Will the region be able to build a competitive economic and business environment that retains its human capital, encouraging entrepreneurship, start-ups and innovations, promoting sustainable development including inter-connectivity, clean environment and green energy, quality education and youth employment? What would the role of the EU and the challenges. Western Balkans in the EU: will the When be reduced to an If and etc.
The event is part of the work programme of the Bulgarian Chevening Association and was supported by the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Bulgaria..
The event was interactive and interesting with more than 80 participants and provoked fruitful discussion.