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International Scientific Conference 'Western Balkan in International Relations'


International Scientific Conference 'Western Balkan in International Relations – Facing New Challenges after Warsaw Summit' , that was held on 9 November 2016 in European House in Zagreb, gathered many experts in international relations from the whole world: United States, Russia, Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and from the region of the Western Balkan. The conference was organized by the Atlantic Council of Croatia and Center for International Relations, with the support of NATO PDD, and had the aim to show how new relations in the international politics bring a special dimension in the contemporary international community and world politics. Great powers are reshaping the world order and are positioning accordingly, which significantly reflects to the area of the Western Balkan. 

President of the Atlantic Council of Croatia and Center for International Relations Prof. Radovan Vukadinović greeted speakers and participants of the international scientific conference, and said it is very important to further discuss the position of the Western Balkan countries in international relations, especially from the perspective of Euro-Atlantism.

First panel discussion was dedicated to the Western Balkan and great powers, during which our guests speakers presented their views. Since it was the day when the final results of American elections became official, prof. James Seroka from the United States commented newly elected American President Donald Trump stand on the region, saying he couldn't find a single comment on the region, but adding that it seems Western Balkan is not a high priority in Trump's foreign policy. All media articles related to the future US foreign policy shows uncertainty and interest in Americans trying to gain their position in the world. Prof. Ekaterina Entina from Russia stated that Russia sees all Western Balkan countries as its field of interests, and that Russia is not interested in dividing these countries. Prof. Murat Önsoy from Turkey stressed that the EU is a declining power in the region, unlike NATO. He added that Turkey is trying to make its role in the region more important. The first panel discussion was moderated by Prof. Boris Vucelic, Vice-President of the Atlantic Council of Croatia.

During the second panel discussion: European countries and the perspective of the Western Balkan, speakers gave their views of Europe towards the Western Balkan region and the role of NATO. Prof. Arnold Kammel from Austria stressed long relations between his country and Western Balkan countries, dating back in the history, and that hasn't changed today. Dr. Tamás Pesuth from Hungary had the same objective in trying to explain long relations between Hungary and Western Balkan countries. He was additionally asked to elaborate more on the migrant crisis and role of Hungary. The same approach of the importance of the Western Balkan region was given by Bulgarian Ambassador in Croatia Tanya Dimitrova. This panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Mladen Nakic

Third panel discussion gave the reflection on national politics of the Western Balkan countries, and was eventually divided in two parts. First part hosted guests speakers from Macedonia and Kosovo. Dr. Bekim Maksuti from Macedonian Ministry of Defence stated that Macedonia supports and promotes good neighbourly relations in the region, with the attempt to increase the safety and security of the citizens. Ambassador from Kosovo in Croatia Shkëndije Geci Sherifi agreed with the importance of creating and sustaining good relations with neighbouring countries, stressing specifically Kosovo relations with Serbia. This panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Monika Begovic, Vice-President of the Atlantic Council of Croatia.

Guests speakers within the second part of the third panel discussion gave the perspective of their Western Balkan countries and their roles in the international relations. Prof. Dušan Janjić from Serbia talked about Serbian position in the region and policy of neutrality. Nikoleta Tomović (UDG) and Nusret Hanjalić (Ministry of Defence) from Montenegro stressed the trans-Atlantic path of their country and its way towards NATO and the EU, while Prof. Miloš Šolaja from Banja Luka stressed difficult situation in the country, both from the perspective of the internal and foreign policy. This panel discussion was moderated by Prof. Lidija Čehulić Vukadinović.

The conference ended with the discussion of young 'Atlantists' from the region and Croatia, who concluded that the cooperation in region is very important for keeping the peace and security.