The fourth meeting of the National Working Group (NWG) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) in BiH

The fourth meeting of the National Working Group (NWG) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) in BiH was held today in Sarajevo on 29. November 2018. The motive behind the meeting was the presentation of a comprehensive report on the state of public administration in BiH – State PAR Monitor 2017/2018. The report was written pursuant to a year-long research and monitoring of PAR within the scope of WeBER Project, the first regional civil society project monitoring this process in the Western Balkans. The report is available here.

Vedrana Faladžić, from the Public Administration Reform Coordinator’s Office (PARCO BiH) and Lejla Ramić Mesihović, Director of the Foreign Policy initiative BH (FPI BH) have discussed on what is the significance of monitoring of the public administration reform by the civil society.

The State PAR Monitor for BiH was presented by Ms Anida Šabanović, FPI BH researcher. After the presentation, there was a serious discussion in which many discussants took part. Along with the members of the civil society organizations who are members of the NWG, Mr Nedžib Delić, head of the PARCO Operative Unit, Elvira Mujkić, PAR expert, Davor Vuletić, President of the FPI BH Assembly, and Mr Bojan Kovačević  from the Business Development Agency EDA from Banja Luka.

This event has gathered representatives of civil society, public administration, media and PAR experts.

*NWG is a consultative mechanism within a ste between representatives of civil society and relevant state authorities in creation and monitoring of the PAR process in Western Balkan countries. NWGs were established in each of these countries as a part of a wider regional WeBER platform.

 

Cetvrti sastanak Državne radne grupe (DRG) za reformu javne uprave (RJU) u BiH

The brochure „A somewhat different manual for women political activism: And now that our Nail Polish Has Dried…“

On 12 November 2018, Foreign Policy initiative BH, within the scope of the Project dedicated to development of women negotiation skills, implemented with financial support of American Embassy in BiH, had organized a presentation of 13. The brochure is intended for women politicians and social activists in our country.

After spending three working cycles with women parliamentarians and political activists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have noticed a need for creating a brief manual pertaining to the specifics of women active involvement in politics, and offer a brief elaboration of involvement through identifying main problems and offering solutions through adequate policies.

The author of this manual and the director of Foreign Policy Initiative BH, Ms. Lejla Ramić Mesihović, has stated how the desire and the and the intent to empower the women dealing with politics, or intend to do so in the future, were vital for the creation of this manual with the goal of offering a quality analysis of the context and the authors position on political activity.  The manual contains control lists stemming both from political theory and the authors own experience. A significant effort was invested to make them both be complementary with the text and for the text to be supplemented with the hints of concrete practical examples.  We hope that the content offered in this manual will help political activists and those who wish to become so to maximise the effects of their own work for the benefit of the society and creation of their own political capital.

Politicians and social activists that have attended the presentation have discussed the current political situation in BiH and the role and presence of women on political scene. They have found that manuals, such as this one, are something that every woman, who wishes to be a part of political and social changes in our country, needs to have.

From the peer reviews:

…I recognize a particular value of this Manual in the fact that in its concise and easy to read text, and the introspective and far-reaching questions, certain contents are revealed which are not intended solely for women who are active in politics, but also for those who contemplate a possible political involvement, as well as for those who, next to political involvement, recognize a dramatically different social context of women lives regardless of the field they are active in…

PhD. Ms.  Nedžma Džananović Miraščija

…the manual is full of questions for self-reflection recommended for women in politics in order for them to become aware of their own levels and sources of power.  By answering these questions, women in politics, could in fact, reach some uncomfortable, yet invaluable cognisance pertaining to their political position and activism. Women politicians are reminded of the “dominance techniques” that they, without a doubt, have experienced, but did not always know how to define their discriminatory nature.  The practicality of this Manual is seen in its concise form and telegraphic reminders of the methods for creating gender sensitive policies, as well as barriers encountered  in achieving them.  Control lists and illustrations presented in the Manual greatly contribute to the efficient usage of the text…

MSc. Nina Karađinović

Publikacija "Nešto drugačiji priručnik za ženski politički aktivizam: A sada kada nam se lak na noktima osušio..."

„Towards new Foreign Policy Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2018-2023“

On 27 november 2018, Foreign Policy Initiative BH, in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung BiH has organized the presentation of political analysis Towards new Foreign Policy Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2018-2023 by Davor Vuletić.

As pointed out by the author, mr. Davo Vuletić, this analysis endeavours to provide an overview of the Strategy, bring it to the attention of the public and thereby provoke a broader discussion on the matter. Furthermore, it will assess whether the new Strategy reflects the developments in international relations, geopolitics, regional dynamics, and the fulfilment of obligations accepted under the Stabilisations and Association Agreement (SAA) related to the European Union (EU) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Finally, the brief will aim to assess if BiH used its experience in external affairs to produce a politically coherent foreign policy strategy that can meet the challenges of the next five years.

This presentation was envisaged as an introductory overview of this topic from the author’s point of view and to instigate a debate on the very Foreign Policy Strategy of BiH 2018-2023. The text of th Strategy is available in English on the English language version of the BiH Presidency home page: http://www.predsjednistvobih.ba/vanj/default.aspx?id=79555&langTag=en-US

Participants of th panel discssion for he presentation of the analysis were its author Davor Vuletić (FBI BH),  PhD. Prof. Slavo Kukić (sociologist), PhD. Nedžma Džananović Mirašćija (Faculty of Political Science) and Mr. Đorđe Tomić (political analyst), and Mr. Zlatko Dizdarević (FPI BH) The discussion will be moderated by Mr. Zlatko Dizdarević (FPI BH). In their discussion the panelists have underlined the conclusions that the goals of the new Strategy should be contributing to stability and security, protection of BiH ciziens and promotion of  Bosnia and Herzegovina in the world.

The presentation was be attended by representatives of the civil society organizations, academia, relevant institutions, embassies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, members of the academia and media.

„U susret novoj Strategiji vanjske politike Bosne i Hercegovine 2018.–2023“

Brussels got acquainted with PAR Monitor 2017/2018

One of the major products of the WeBER Project, Regional PAR Monitor 2017/2018, was presented in Brussels to the representatives of the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission, and to the participants of event organised by the European Policy Centre – EPC.

After performing the first monitoring exercise, WeBER research team revealed findings and data related to the present levels of openness, transparency, accountability, and meritocracy of the Western Balkans’ administrations at the meeting organised in the premises of the DG NEAR. Interested officials of the European Commission had opportunity to acquire first-hand insights of the monitoring process and methodology, learn about research results in all six public administration reform (PAR) areas and ask country-specific questions in order to obtain evidence-informed findings necessary for their future communication efforts towards the Western Balkan countries.

Following the DG NEAR meeting, Regional PAR Monitor 2017/2018 was presented at the Policy Dialogue A Balkan perspective on Public Administration Reform: Who is moving forward and who is falling behind? organised by Brussels-based WeBER partner organisation, EPC. The Policy Dialogue was moderated by EPC Senior Policy Analyst, Corina Stratulat, and was attended by EPC members, EU officials and media. It explored the project findings in more detail, and answered the following questions: How does each country’s public administration compare to the others? What examples of good and bad practice can be found throughout the region? Where are the frontrunners lagging behind, and why? What should the Balkan countries do to further advance reform and how should the EU help?

The results show considerable discrepancies between countries and reveal that the “frontrunners” are not always at the front in all the different aspects of PAR. If you are interested in learning more about the results of the WeBER monitoring, please read the Executive Summary available here or take a look at the graphically presented results in the PAR Scoreboard available here.

My Neighbor – Success Stories of the Inter-faith Dialogue within and beyond the V4 Countries

On 17 October 2018, Foreign Policy initiative BH – FPI BH (Sarajevo) in cooperation with the Centre for European Neighborhood studies – CENS (Budapest), Strategic Policy institute – STRATPOL (Bratislava), And Association for International Affairs (Prague) had organized a round table discussion on the occasion of the kick off of the project  My Neighbor, Success Stories of the Inter-faith Dialogue within and beyond the V4 Countries

This project has a very pronounced component of working with young people, raising their awareness and knowledge on the values of inter-religious cooperation, and developing tolerance among the youth population. The project was created due to the need coming from the Visegrad countries (V4) for strengthening inter-religious cooperation due to the rising migrant crisis and the rising religious intolerance within the European countries.  The project is focused on raising awareness of the significance of the inter-religious dialogue in modern day life, not just within the V4 countries but within the European countries  in general , on promoting good practices and experiences of coexistence and common values of different cultural and denomination groups particularly within the context  of changes occurring in the world in the light of political changes in Europe, migrant crisis, problems occurring in education and employment, and discrimination that those who are different often face just because they are different.

How to find a way to learn from each other and to share with each other  the most positive sides of our culture and religion? The answer to this question was sought during this round table through examples of good practices by the round table  participants who have, through the prism of life in Bosnia and Herzegovina, tried to illustrate to our guests from the V4 countries how our differences help us get to know ourselves and that one of the best examples, was during the unfortunate war in BiH, where different religious charitable institutions have acted together in order to offer maximum support and help to the people living in this country. There are many other examples of inter-religious cooperation in the modern day life as well.

Representatives of different religious communities, cultural heritage associations, youth associations and other CSOs have agreed that in BIH, once you have a in-depth look inside its history, our coexistence came organically. Our old customs indicate how ones next door neighbor (komšija) is the most person in ones life, much closer to you even than your family, and that the best examples of living together are the examples of the neighbors who are the true illustration of togetherness and coexistence.

The conclusion of this round table was that religion is a permanent matter in everyday life, however it is very much intertwined in political scene and it is very important to speak of these issues. The project partners from the V4 countries have agreed good practices and cooperation of different religions present within BiH can absolutely help in creating a bigger picture in the V4 countries, particularly in the light of the migrant crisis happening in Europe for the past several years.

In the next few months, within the scope of this project, a video competition will be organized in BiH on the topic of most representative and successful examples of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation in BiH.

The project is financed by the Visegrad Fund.

My Neighbour, Success Stories of the Inter-faith Dialogue within and beyond the V4 Countries“

Citizens First: CEP Belgrade hosts the 1st WeBER Regional Conference

25-26 September 2018 – The conference “Citizens First: Civil Society Demands for Better Administration in the Western Balkans” brought together more than 60 speakers and over 130 participants from the Western Balkan region and the EU. The Conference was the first in what intends to become a series of biennial regional conferences focusing on civil society’s role in monitoring and supporting PAR in the context of the region’s EU path. Its purpose was to enhance and broaden the dialogue on creating and implementing inclusive and transparent policies that take into account citizens’ needs. On this occasion, Milena Lazarević, CEP Programme Director and WeBER Project Manager, and Miloš Đinđić, CEP Programme Manager and WeBER Lead Researcher, presented the draft Regional PAR Monitor Report, based on the results of PAR monitoring performed in each WB country within WeBER.

The key panellists at the conference included Myriam Ferran, Director for Strategy and Turkey in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), Dicky Methorst, the First Secretary in the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Gregor Virant, former Minister of Public Administration in the Republic of Slovenia, Heiki Loot, Secretary of State in the Government Office of Estonia,  Majlinda Bregu, prominent Albanian politician and the next Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), and many others. They highlighted the importance of regional cooperation and constructive PAR dialogue between civil society and the state, in light of the ongoing EU accession process of the Western Balkan countries.

Highlights from the conference

As one of the most notable achievements, WeBER has shown that civil society does not need to be perceived by the government as an external threat, but rather as a constructive partner in PAR policy. “WeBER builds bridges and trust between civil society organisations that represent the citizens of the Western Balkan countries, and the governments, in order to provide better services for citizens, better use of taxpayers’ money and a better quality of everyday life,” Myriam Ferran said at the conference.

The EU has included PAR among the fundamental reform areas that enable a progressive transformation of the state and society. To that end, Virant emphasised that the EU is becoming more demanding in the accession process when it comes to public administration reform. Since the outcomes of PAR influence the daily lives of citizens, it is important that citizens are in the focus of reform activitiesMilena Lazarević stated: “We think that it is necessary for governments to hear these messages, because we can have serious problems if those problems we point out are not solved. We will not only have problems in functioning as EU member states, but citizens will also punish those same politicians, if they fail to act responsibly and implement the needed administrative reforms.”. She added that the main focus of the EU was no longer the mere adoption of laws and strategies, but increasingly their application in practice, quality of service delivery, actual openness and transparency of the administration and involvement of public in policy-making.” EU membership does not per se ensure that the state will function perfectly and therefore civil society should be the driving force for continuing reforms even after we enter the EU,” Lazarević emphasised.

Moreover, countries in the Western Balkan region are all reforming their administrations within the accession process and there is strong potential for mutual learning and experience exchange: “Regional cooperation is not a substitute for EU membership, but if the region does not work together in all fields, the road to the EU will be harder and longer”, Bregu warned.

Heiki Loot shared a good example of Estonia’s public administration reform case. “The key to the sucessful PAR is: good-quality people in key places with autonomy to lead the reform, plus new technologies.”

Methorst pointed out that although EU officials know the benefits from EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, it is a challenge to convince EU citizens. “That is why WeBER is very important”, said Methorst, “measuring PAR progress in the Western Balkans through individually developed indicators, allowing for detailed monitoring of how far countries have advanced on their paths to the EU membership.”

A special part of the Conference was dedicated to PAR monitoring projects of local civil society organisations, grantees of the WeBER Small Grant Facility. The Small Grant Facility was launched with the goal to enable local watchdog and grassroots organisations and media to work on local PAR issues.

The final remarks were delivered by Miloš Đinđić and Simonida Kacarska, Director of the European Policy Institute (EPI). Kacarska warned that countries of the region are still facing a challenge when it comes to including additional institutional actors in the PAR process, beyond Ministries for public administration. “Political will matters, but systematic solutions are needed”Kacarska highlighted. They both concluded that WeBER does not end with this conference, and that civil society in the Western Balkans will continue to demand a better and more efficient public administration, tailored to the citizens’ needs.

The first WeBER regional conference is the final conference of the three-year WeBER project implemented by the Think for Europe Network (TEN), financed by the EU and co-financed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. More information about WeBER and the photos from the conference are available at: www.par-monitor.org.

The European Union and the Western Balkans: Moving apart or together?

On 28 September 2018, Foreign Policy Initiative BH (FPI BH, Sarajevo), in cooperation with the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (CFA/ÖFZ, Vienna), Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE, Nice/Berlin), with the support of and in cooperation with the Open Regional Fund for SEE – Promotion of EU Integration (German Cooperation / GIZ), Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI, Paris), Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI, Rome), and German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP, Brussels) and the European Commission (Erasmus+-Programme), had organized a Conference titled The European Union and the Western Balkans: Moving apart or together?. The Conference was organized in framework of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

After years out of the radar, the Western Balkans now seem to be back on the agenda of the EU. The new Enlargement Strategy, issued in February 2018 and the EU-Western Balkans Summit convened in Sofia in May 2018, fifteen years after the Thessaloniki Declaration, both tentatively illustrate the new impetus given by the EU to its enlargement policy. The new dynamic that may be emerging builds on four years of Berlin process. After Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Trieste, a new Western Balkans Summit took place in this framework in London, in July 2018. What has been the overall contribution of the Berlin process so far and what support can it deliver in the future? Is the new impetus indicative of more credible enlargement perspectives for the countries of the region? In the region, progress remains hesitant at best, especially with regards to democracy, rule of law, good governance, economic development and good neighbourly relations. Weaknesses in these areas persist in spite of the prevailing commitment to EU accession declared by most political parties in the region. And they do not disappear even after accession -as shown in neighbouring EU Member States.

At the beginning of his address, H.E.., Mr. Martin Pammer, Ambassador of the Republic of Austria in BiH, of a country which is currently presiding over the EU Council, stated how the entire Europe, as well as this region are facing many challenges and tasks that need to be fulfilled. He added that a necessary step forward, which is in the interest of all the citizens, can be taken. In that context, he has invited the politicians to focus the dialogue more on the reforms rather than on the nationalistic rhetoric in the wake of the October general elections in BiH.

Lejla Ramić Mesihović, the director of Foreign Policy Initiative BH had underlined how it is necessary to reaffirm the accession of the Western Balkan countries in the EU, because, now that the EU is facing internal reform, Brexit and the EU Parliament elections, it is of utmost importance to keep the topic of enlargement on the EU agenda as something which is relevant and credible. In Bosnia and Herzegovina there is a lack of political awareness of how important it is to offer quality answers to additional questions from the European Commission’s Questionnaire. Without that, there will be no Avis, let alone a candidate status for BiH.

Speaking of regional cooperation, Simonida Kacarska, director of the European Policy Institute from Skopje had especially pointed out the necessity of cooperation and trade integration which are of relevance to all of the citizens of the Western Balkans.

Conference Participants were the representatives of diplomatic corps in BiH, Delegation of the EU in BiH, BiH Directorate for European Integration, representatives of BiH institutions, academic community and civil society organizations. They have all agreed that this conference was an excellent opportunity for the representatives of the region and the EU to discuss whether regional cooperation is something Western Balkan countries truly need or is it just a condition for European integration. Rule of law, and continuity in adopting and implementing legislation is still pointed out as the most important aspect  for the economic growth of the countries in the region.

"Europska unija i Zapadni Balkan: kretanje istim putem ili razilaženje?“

Western Balkans 2030 – Visions, Wishes, Realities…

Davor Vuletić, president of the FPI BH Assembly was a panelist at a regional economic conference in Belgrade titled Western Balkans 2030 – Visions, Wishes, Realities…

He used this opportunity to point out that the Western Balkans (WB) economies are, for the most part, part of the EU economy due to the expansion of the EU legislative framework to the WB which influences the modalities of economic development of this region such as technical standards, competition and state aid legislation.  EU integration is the basic vector of movement for the region, and trade with the EU is dominant, however, potentials of developing economic relations and more intense business cooperation with China, Russia and Turkey.

Development of transport and energy infrastructure by 2030 could have a pivotal role in the development of the region with smart investments in research and education.  The train of thought in the EU member countries is similar to this. Vision of the Western Balkans for 2030 is a full EU membership, yet in economic sense, Western Balkans could remain the outskirts of the EU due to its low competitiveness when compared to the more developed EU member states.

The Conference participants were representatives of political life, regional initiatives, international organizations, German and regional businesses and civil society organizations.

Analysis: Effects of Stabilization and Association Agreements and CEFTA2006 on WB6 European Integration and Regional Cooperation: Achievements and Ways Forward

On 10 September 2018, Foreign Policy initiative BH had organized a presentation of the regional analysis titled  Effects of Stabilization and Association Agreements and CEFTA2006 on WB6 European Integration and Regional Cooperation: Achievements and Ways Forward.

Lejla Ramić Mesihović, director of FPI BH had presented the main findings of the analysis/research for BiH as well for all of the other countries in the region. She pointed out that this was an extensive research composed of two parts and containing 460 pages. The first part analyses the effects of the SAAs for Macedonia, Albania and Serbia, while the other part brings the analysis of the effects of CEFTA2006 on all of the six WB countries.

The president of the FPI BH Assembly, Mr. Davor Vuletić, has pointed out that in BiH political situation presents a great challenge, and that even though other countries in the region have had politically turbulent times, they had also had a longer stabilization period, while BiH continuously suffers the process of political destabilization which influences the work of the institutions and the forming of the legislative framework  for better functioning of BiH within CEFTA.

Next to the Foreign Policy Initiative, those participating in the production of this analysis were European Movement in Serbia which was the coordinator of this entire project, European Movement of Montenegro, Institute Riinvest from Priština, Institute for International Studies from Albania and European Policy Institute from Skoplje.

The presentation of this analysis was organized within the scope of the Project : Effects of Stabilization and Association Process Instruments on WB6 European Integrations and Regional Cooperation: what has been achieved so far and ways forward. The project has been realized with financial support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Serbia and Open Society Institute Fund.

Analiza: "Utjecaji Sporazuma o stabilizaciji i pridruživanju te CEFTA2006 na proces europskih integracija zemalja ZB6 i na regionalnu suradnju: Postignuća i put naprijed."

Reaction to proposals presented at the Alpbach forum on new perspectives of the EU enlargement process

The so called ‘historic’ discussion between Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, and Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi at the European Forum Alpbach in Austria that proposes an exchange of territories between two countries is not a landmark move towards future, but a huge step back deep into the past. Without going into the merits of the proposal and whether it would actually resolve ancient disputes between Serbia and Kosovo, we feel a need to send a warning about the implications of any re-drawing of borders for other countries in the region.

The retrograde ideas of redrawing borders would be devastating for the peace and stability in the region. The alleged tacit support of main international players to this idea is even more devastating, and strongly reminisces of the international inertia towards the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 1990s. The silence of the EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn in the same panel was painfully symbolic of the EU’s role during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s.

Any proposal to change borders and exchange territories in the Balkans is not cosmetic and it would be naïve to believe that such proposal could be contained to ‘small’ territories which the change would directly affect. Voices of former European diplomats in the Balkans and experts who have in recent weeks supported this idea through international media blatantly ignore history and facts by suggesting that new divisions would be part of a solution and not part of a problem. Any border change in the Balkans is not solution, it is a blueprint for new disasters. Even having to say this after everything the region has been through over the past 25 years feels surreal and unbelievable.

We thus appeal to international actors to recognize the hazardous rhetoric that invokes uncertainty that has led before this region to disastrous consequences. We appeal to you not to hide behind the pragmatism of EU integration, and instead distinguish between fallacy and facts. Delusions that ethnically ‘pure’ entities or nation states are a solution for this region are not new – their actual engineers have already been convicted in The Hague, and the victims of those ideas lie buried throughout this region. We refuse to accept the idea that there is no other choice but to divide existing states and societies along ethnic lines. And we would note that recent history shows that such divisions cannot be implemented peacefully. To ignore this, we would need to forget the experience of the 20th century with ethnic cleansing and the forced movement of people. To accept this argument would be to turn a blind eye to the genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes of the 1990s.

It is a logical fallacy that, with initial round of political divisions having failed to appease nationalist passions in the region, another round will somehow do the job. Instead, as should be obvious to any discerning reader of history and politics, championing divisions simply creates new cleavage lines in the region. The facts and arguments that prove that ethnic cleansing and creation of ‘pure’ nation-states is a bad idea have been overly presented in numerous publications and conferences over the past 25 years. Many of us have devoted most of our professional lives providing such facts and evidence so that new generations can remember how dangerous the nationalist rhetoric is, and how it can lead to projects that risks thousands of lives being lost. The facts are out there – in history books, in academic publications, and not least in court judgments.

We take this opportunity to remind the international community of those facts, to appeal to you to stay on the side of maintaining peace in the Balkans. Peace in the Balkans is your legacy – please preserve it. Please take into account the wider regional context, the threats to stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the decades long undermining of its institutions, and continued claims for autonomy of one of its parts. Part of that context is the glorification of war criminals in all countries in the region, as well as the nationalist radicalisation in Croatia. There are individuals in all Balkan societies who still cherish the notions of greater, ethnically ‘pure’ nation-states. Many of them do so for purely opportunistic reasons, attempting to hide the bankruptcy of their political vision behind the ideology of nationalism. It is the job of democracy to keep those individuals on margins of our societies. And it is the job of democratizers to keep democracy on track, to keep divisive ideas on margins by preserving and promoting facts, and to persistently promote the norms and values of democratic societies. It is your job!

Re-drawing borders is anti-civilizational, it is an attempt re-write history, and to re-introduce alleged Huntingtonian clashes to our societies at a point when many of us in civil society are investing efforts to sustain the motion in the opposite direction. Such proposals undermine multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity as values upon which history and future of our societies must rest, upon which Europe still rests.

If division to nation states is a blue print for the Balkans, is it a blueprint for European states too – for Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom? Although this is a rhetorical question, the answer is still clear – it is a blueprint for new conflicts. We are appalled by the implied pretence that a proposal with such content could be seen as benign in a global context that has already been tarred by rising xenophobia, radicalism, extremism, and divisive rhetoric.

We urge the European Union and all its institutions, NATO, the United States and other individual players to distance yourself from the ideas expressed in Alpbach. By propagating ideas which could entail a return to massive human rights violations, ethnic cleansing and the rewarding of extreme nationalist forces, and being based on dubious claims and few facts, you are endorsing the darkest policies pursued in the Balkans over the past decades.