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Problems in the Western Balkans: settled or dormant?

NOTE BY THE DIRECTOR                                            DITCHLEY 13/02


Problems in the Western Balkans: settled or dormant?

7-9 February 2013

Introduction

This was the first time Ditchley had taken a specific look at the Balkans since January 2000, not long after the conclusion of the military confrontation over Kosovo.  The discussion then was an all-outsider affair. This time we had significant representation from the region, which was particularly valuable for the broad look we were taking at the political and economic challenges still faced by the countries of the Western Balkans.  Discussion was intense at times but always courteous and constructive.

Summary

The region now seems peaceful and likely to stay that way, despite remaining flashpoints in Bosnia and Kosovo. Declining international focus is a reflection of normalisation. But there are still many challenges: the quality of democracy, weak institutions, corruption, organised crime, lack of ethnic reconciliation, poor economic progress.

The perspective of EU accession remains the key to transformation of the region. Croatian accession should be another positive signal. But the EU may be losing traction for those countries still a very long way from qualifying. The onus is on them to make the necessary internal reforms. The days of international intervention are past, even in Bosnia. Governments need to face up to their responsibilities to make their countries attractive and prosperous for their citizens. But the EU can help by promoting itself and its values more vigorously, being more flexible about financing, for example regional infrastructure, and reducing front-loading of conditionality. Starting negotiations with all the remaining countries of the region soon, for example in 2014, would be an excellent way of focussing minds on what needs to be done, and renewing the promise of accession, however distant. But this may not be politically feasible at present.

Of the other external actors, NATO also remains important, and the attractions of membership significant. The UN and OSCE can still play useful supporting roles. Bilaterally, US weight is now mainly exerted in support of the EU, which is vital. Russia and Turkey have some influence, but need to be careful not to foster unhelpful myths. There is no real alternative to the EU in sight.

Economic prospects are not bright for now. Proximity to the EU/eurozone market is a huge advantage in general, but has been a brake in recent years. Underlying factors like demography, poor infrastructure, and low skill levels are worrying. Poor governance, corruption and organised crime are driving away investors. Building new infrastructure, particularly cross-border, would be the best way of improving growth and job prospects, but needs greater political will and reliable financing. Regional cooperation has been a failure until now, and bilateral cooperation, particularly between Croatia and Serbia, may be a better prospect. But regional efforts should still be given another chance. Overall the solutions lie in local hands here too, but outsiders, notably the EU, could help.

Of the individual countries, Bosnia has by some way the most serious problems. But Dayton 2.0 is not the answer. Incremental change and improvement, and greater local political will, need to make the difference over time. There is a degree of optimism over the immediate prospects for Kosovo/Serbia relations, which could help regional stability, but the window of opportunity is narrow. Solving the Macedonia name issue and consolidating Albanian democracy are other potentially positive short-term steps.

Problems of nationalism and ethnic divisions still need to be overcome. Reconciliation efforts need to be stepped up to accompany continuing justice moves.

Optimists and pessimists can both find arguments to support their case in the region. Which way it goes will depend on local decisions and will. One contribution outsiders could make is to start calling the region Southeast Europe, rather than the negatively loaded Balkans.


The Big Picture

There was more or less consensus that the chances of a return to major violence were relatively small.  The Dayton settlement had done its job in that sense. Elsewhere too, much progress had been made in learning to live together peacefully. There were still potential flashpoints in northern Mitrovica in Kosovo, and around the future destiny of Republika Srpska in Bosnia, but even here the prospects of avoiding military action of any kind looked positive. The fact that the international media now paid relatively little attention to the region should be seen as a good sign. International interest was not in crisis management, but in helping build institutions and nations.

At the same time the remaining challenges should not be underestimated. Bosnia in particular was still far from the kind of well-functioning and prosperous country its people and outsiders wanted to see.  There was still a long way to go to resolve the issues around the future of Kosovo and Kosovo-Serb relations, though recent developments were promising.  The continuing dispute over Macedonia’s name was holding back progress.  And there were continuing doubts about democratic commitment in Albania. Overall the quality of democracy in the region still left a lot to be desired. Weak institutions had been captured by the political elites, who used patronage and corruption to maintain their positions. Meanwhile economic progress had stalled, and bilateral and regional co-operation were still inadequate.  Reconciliation between ethnic groups was incomplete at best, and political and social trust was notable for its absence. Corruption and organised crime were huge problems. The international justice process was seen in the region as having a mixed record, particularly recently. There was therefore a general fear that, if things did not move forward, they would risk going backwards.  A degree of apprehension about the future was present throughout our debate, and was indeed a feature of the region: people did not currently believe in a brighter tomorrow.

We agreed that we should avoid what one participant called the ‘lure of the grand’. The region needed incremental progress, not a new big bang, and solutions tailored to each country’s needs. The trick would be to do lots of small things well, which would cumulatively make a big difference to people’s lives. One example much cited was getting right phyto-sanitary standards to enable local agricultural products like milk to continue to be exported.

The EU role

No-one was in any doubt that the EU and the Thessaloniki offer of accession for all the countries in the region was the main game in town, and indeed in some ways the only game.  The promise of accession was still the single biggest potential transformational factor in the region.  The equation of enlargement = reform was still the right one. There had been and should be no question of the EU reneging on their promise, and the countries themselves all remained interested.  The process was still moving forward in that Croatia would join later in the year, and negotiations would now also be opened with Montenegro.
 
However there was an obvious danger that momentum would be lost, or would appear to be lost, after Croatia’s accession.  The EU itself was inevitably preoccupied with its internal problems, particularly the eurozone crisis, and therefore had less time and energy to spare on further enlargement.  Some EU countries, for a variety of reasons, were happy to see little or nothing happen for a few years, or even to hold up the process if it suited them. They included some of the region’s neighbours. Meanwhile, for the potential candidates themselves, if accession were seen as too far distant in time (it was already 10 years away at best), the incentive to carry out difficult reforms to meet EU requirements would be seriously diluted.  Some local politicians were only too ready to see this happen, because the necessary changes would be damaging for their powerbases and their access to resources. Public opinion in some countries was losing faith in the EU option, and some were openly casting around for alternatives, even if there were none in reality.

It was even suggested that we now had a local variant of the old Soviet joke: the countries of the region were pretending to reform, and the EU was pretending it still wanted them as members.
We had much debate over where the main responsibility lay to break this potentially destructive cycle of inaction.  Some from the region thought the EU needed to be more active and creative, and give more financial help to countries even before accession negotiations started.  Others, mainly from the outside, thought the onus lay squarely on the countries themselves.  The reforms in question were desperately needed, irrespective of the issue of EU membership.  The elites needed to “grow up” and assume responsibility for taking forward vital change.  No-one could do this for them, and nothing could happen until the nettles were grasped. 

We recognised that this was not an either/or question.  Both the EU and the countries themselves needed to change what they were doing.  The issue was where the emphasis should be – and most thought this was with the individual countries and their need to take their destinies into their own hands.  This was connected to a wider question about how far the international community should go on intervening in Balkan affairs, and how far the expectation should now be of genuinely local solutions.  Again the balance of opinion was clearly that the days of outside intervention were past.  The international community, including the EU, should try to provide a positive context for good local decision-making, and should be ready to go on making suggestions if necessary.  But the power to decide should clearly be with the local actors.  The risk of continuing to disempower, or even “infantilise”, local politicians was otherwise too great. Local politicians also needed to sort out their own bilateral problems. Otherwise the accession process would ultimately be derailed by them. Local politicians needed to remember that the EU perspective was the best possible excuse for taking difficult local decisions.

We discussed in some detail the power of the Croatian example.  Croatia had demonstrated that the necessary tough reform decisions could be taken, and maintained over time, and that the EU would reward this behaviour.  However, there was concern that, if the hoped-for benefits did not flow to Croatia reasonably quickly after accession, this could even discourage others from setting off down a similar road.  It was also important for Croatia not to sit back and wait for the benefits, but to carry on with reforms, particularly on the economic side (the negative example of Slovenia was cited in this respect).  Selling the Croatian story positively would be crucial for all concerned.

As far as the EU itself was concerned, there was acceptance that it could do better in some respects.  The policy of sticks and carrots had not really worked as planned, partly because some of the countries concerned seemed unsure which was which.  In any case the sticks had appeared bigger than the carrots. A more for more approach, on the lines of that used with the eastern neighbours, would be better. While the Commission had been creative in inventing new forms of dialogue and new fora, to allow discussions to continue at some level even before accession talks started with individual countries, these had had relatively little impact.  Better use of IPPA financing, where it could do most good, and the context was positive, was one way forward, not least on the infrastructure side.  Less front-loading of conditionality, which tended to act as too much of a blockage if the front-loaded conditions were particularly onerous/difficult, would be another way to speed up progress and improve the incentives for action.

It was suggested that the way forward was for the EU to open negotiations with all the remaining countries at the same time, for example in 2014. The rationale was to force countries to focus on the practical changes they needed to make, including in a lot of complex technical areas; and to engage in the negotiation process hundreds, if not thousands, of senior officials. This would help take the debate and the relationship out of the exclusive hands of a few self-interested politicians.  No end-dates should be set for this “regatta” approach, collectively or individually. It would be understood from the start that countries could only get in when they were ready.  But at least the prospect could begin to seem real, however long-term. Nation-building would become member-state-building at the same time.
This proposal attracted a lot of support. But many pointed out that, however desirable the proposal might be in principle, its chance of acceptance by all EU member states at the moment were poor.  Nevertheless that was not seen as a reason for not advancing it – member states needed to be confronted with the promise they had made and the need to make good on it.  No-one wanted to see any kind of “black hole” in the middle of Europe.  Action was needed to avoid this becoming a real possibility.

One interesting point which we did not have time to explore further was whether the evolution of the EU itself might provide new solutions for future Balkan candidates. For example if the UK came to have a different, semi-detached status, could that be a model for others to follow?

Other external actors

While so much hinged on the EU, it was by no means the only outside player.  NATO membership was the other half of euro-atlantic integration. Moving the prospect of membership nearer for those countries currently outside and wanting to join was another way of helping to foster regional stability.  It was good that Slovenia, Croatia and Albania were already members, that Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia had Membership Action Plan (MAP) status; and that even Serbia had Partnership for Peace status.  Despite the recent history, we should not give up on closer relations between Serbia and NATO.  Even if membership was not a prospect for some time, objective interests increasingly ran together.  Macedonia should also be able to become a member as soon as the name issue was resolved.  Some pointed out that NATO membership for e.g. Albania did not seem to have improved behaviour or stabilised the neighbourhood in any noticeable way.  However there was still general support for NATO as a positive influence, as well as for a continued NATO presence in Kosovo until key issues there were definitely resolved.

The UN remained an important player in the region, as a source of legitimacy and interest, but it was clearly much less centrally involved than in the past.  OSCE influence also continued to be potentially valuable, though many thought its current presence needed reform to become more effective.

On the bilateral front, the US remained closely interested in what happened in the region, politically and economically, and had not for example reduced its diplomatic presence there despite wider cuts.  Its main policy was now to support the EU role.  This was important since the individual governments in the region still tended to attach a lot of importance to what the US was saying and doing.  But it was also important for them to understand that the US was not going to come to their rescue militarily again.

Russia’s role was also significant, not least because of her links with Serbia and her position as a regional energy supplier.  There was not a Russian alternative to the EU for countries in the region – Russian investment and economic interest outside the energy area were limited – but Russia needed to be part of what was happening in the region:  all the main external actors needed to co-operate.  At the same time it was important for Russia not to foster unhelpful myths about Slav solidarity, which could create dangerous illusions.

Turkey also had influence in the region, although attempts to play some kind of Ottoman card were unlikely to flourish, and could again create risky illusions about Turkey’s motives and real level of interest.  Turkish economic investment remained limited. 

China had some interests in the region, notably economic, but was not a major or strongly interested player for now.

The Arab world’s interest in the region should also not be ignored. There was increasing investment from countries like the UAE and Qatar.

Economic prospects

While there was much focus on the political prospects for the region, we did not neglect the economic side.  There was concern that the prospects did not seem promising.  All the countries of the region except Albania had experienced negative real growth in 2012, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) had fallen catastrophically since 2008, and the region was highly dependent on the EU economy, itself still largely in crisis.  Underlying factors were also worrying:  populations were falling, again except in Albania; levels of education and skills were low, despite local myths to the contrary; and basic infrastructure was poor to non-existent in areas like transport (flying from country to country via Vienna was still the norm in many cases).  If the prevalence of corruption throughout the region was added in, plus the strong presence of organised crime in most countries, it was hardly surprising that foreign traders and investors were hard to attract, and that there was a continuing brain drain out of the region.  In a word, the region was not currently competitive in international terms.

If this diagnosis was reasonably clear, the solutions were less obvious.  Better governance in all its aspects was clearly crucial, including an assault on corruption, and improvement of the rule of law. But it was no good expecting miracles in the short term.  Jobs were desperately needed and some could be created using the existing economic structures more effectively and intelligently.

Infrastructure projects, particularly cross-border ones, were seen by some participants as a good way of injecting growth into the system and creating desperately-needed jobs.  There were plenty of opportunities in the fields of road, rail, air transport, energy and telecommunications.  But parochial attitudes and ethnic fiefdoms would have to be overcome, as well as lack of regional project implementation capacity.  Moreover imagination and creativity would need to be applied to financing.  Local banks had money, and if they could pool some of these resources, that might help unlock some international funds, including from the EU.  If local businessmen and governments were not willing to invest in their future, outsiders would not do it for them.

We debated how far regional history had left a legacy of a dependency/entitlement culture, and lack of a can-do spirit, and in particular whether the Yugoslav form of communism “light” had in the end proved damaging, because radical change had seemed less obviously needed than in the Soviet bloc.  The idea of lack of entrepreneurial DNA was strongly rejected by some regional participants. People in the Balkans could be as dynamic as anyone else. Organised crime was after all a form of entrepreneurship and moreover one which crossed borders without problems!  More seriously, it was suggested that the image of entrepreneurs and businessmen in the region needed to be seriously improved, since in too many people’s eyes they were simply equated with crooks.  There was a new class of entrepreneurs emerging but they were still regarded with huge suspicion.

We looked at other related questions. Were the consequences of conflict still damaging economic progress?  Some thought so, but others pointed to experiences in other parts of the world, where repairing conflict damage had been seen as an opportunity and the consequences left by conflict had been overcome reasonably quickly. Victimhood was a reflex which needed to be abandoned by everyone in the region. Could greater regional co-operation contribute to stronger economic growth? Most thought that, for the moment, bilateral co-operation, particularly between bigger countries such as Croatia and Serbia, was the more promising way forward.  Regional co-operation had so far failed, not least because it had been seen locally as something imposed from the outside. The regional bodies created had been ineffective.  But there was still significant support around the table for a new effort, based around the Regional Co-operation Council (RCC), and focussed on regional infrastructure projects.  Regional financing was possible, perhaps with EU guarantees, since local banks had money. The Western Balkans Investment Framework was cited as a successful model to follow.  Revitalising the Adriatic-Ionian Highway project was seen as a good place to start.

One persistent issue was the need to improve the quality of public administration. Professionalisation of the civil service would be an important contribution to better governance and a brake on corruption and the spoils system. A respected regional government/civil service training school could make quite a difference in this respect.

We tried not to be too gloomy about the economic future of the region, despite the current problems. If other regions could move forward, so could the Balkans.  Sectors where the region could do well were identified: agriculture, wood and metal products, textiles, some parts of ICT. There was nothing inherently wrong with the people, if they were given half a chance and half-decent governments.  If and when the EU’s economy recovered, that would have an important and positive knock-on effect on the Balkans.  It was after all the single biggest market in the world. Nevertheless, once again, the destiny of the region’s economy and the prospects for better growth and more jobs were in local hands.  Outsiders could not fix the problems, though they could help.

Nationalism, reconciliation and justice

While we thought progress had been made in many respects, the wounds were certainly not healed. Education was not being positively used to spread the right messages, and initiatives to reduce hostile stereotyping and negative history in e.g. school textbooks had so far only scratched the surface. Some participants suggested that the emphasis on justice was leading people to look back and not forward. Others stressed the impossibility of a better future if the past were not confronted. The balance of opinion was perhaps that the emphasis now needed to be on using the past to build a better future rather than on retribution alone. This suggested more efforts at reconciliation alongside justice, and more use of local justice than the international courts. But we did not have time to explore this issue fully.

Bosnia Herzegovina

Bosnia Herzegovina was widely seen as the weakest link in the West Balkans chain, facing more serious problems than the other countries of the region.  The Dayton institutions functioned in formal terms, for the most part, but the political will to make them work fully and properly was lacking.  The elites in all three entities tended to be self-serving and inward-looking, and unwilling to take the tough decisions needed to move the country forward.  Corruption was rife, and the rule of law weak at best. Current incentives were all about patronage and access to it. This had to be changed. The moves on visa-free travel showed what could be done when the will and a sense of urgency were there.

There was little support for a wholesale revision of Dayton.  The risks of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, however dirty the latter, were considerable.  Without political will any new dispensation was unlikely to work.  If political will were present, there was no reason why the present dispensation could not be made to work anyway.  Incremental change was therefore the way forward.  The Dayton constitution did not need to be regarded as inviolable, and the idea of minor amendments by agreement should come to be seen as normal. Painstaking work on what needed to be done to qualify for eventual EU accession could not be avoided. The EU should be clearer and tougher on its expectations and red lines.

The future of Republika Srbska had to be clarified. Was this an open question or not?

How long should the OHR retain his Bonn powers? Views differed, but they were seen as less and less relevant. The opening of negotiations with the EU was seen as a good symbolic moment to get rid of them.

Kosovo

There was a degree of cautious optimism about Kosovo.  Its independence was now accepted by almost 100 countries.  The prospects of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia were seen as reasonably good.  This would not solve all the problems, but it should provide a stable way forward for all concerned, and would help kick-start Serbia’s relationship with the EU.  However the window of opportunity for such an agreement could be short-lived, for a variety of internal and external reasons: the situation in northern Kosovo was unsustainable, the favourable political moods in Belgrade and Pristina might not last, and current EU expectations could also fade. If the opportunity were missed, it might not recur for some time.

Albania

Outside participants and regional representatives from outside Albania were concerned about Albania’s democracy, and the implications for the region if it were not stabilised and consolidated, given the significant Albanian presence in so many countries.  This year’s elections were seen as crucial in this context.  The electoral process and actions needed to be fair, and to be seen to be fair, domestically and internationally.  This was primarily the responsibility of Albania’s own politicians but the international community, particularly the EU, should also help.  A strong observer presence throughout, and readiness to speak out to make clear approval or disapproval of whatever the observers found, would be very important.

Summary of Recommendations

  • Start calling the region Southeast Europe – Balkans has too much negative historical resonance;

  • Huge collective effort to make sure the opportunities of the next few months are taken, particularly in Serbia-Kosovo relations;

  • The EU to agree to open negotiations with all remaining countries of the region simultaneously, preferably in 2014, on the clearly accepted basis that accession would only be possible when countries met the conditions;

  • More EU readiness to move away from front-loading of conditionality;

  • The EU to be more active in promoting itself and its values, and denouncing those who do not respect them;

  • The EU to be more flexible in moving available money around to those ready and able to use it quickly, and in helping regional infrastructure projects;

  • Major international focus on elections in Albania, to help the democratic process flourish;

  • Further action on school textbooks to prevent them from promoting continuing hatred and narrow nationalism;

  • More student exchanges and youth mobility across the region;

  • More civil society dialogue and initiatives to promote people to people contacts;

  • More cross-border parliamentary links;

  • A new regional school for public administration;

  • More cross-sectoral and cross-border working groups in technical areas like food safety;

  • Calling of a regional summit just on infrastructure;

  • Empowering the RCC and its new Secretary General to enable a fresh effort at regional cooperation;

  • More focus on reconciliation as well as justice.


Conclusions

There was no clear-cut answer to the question in the conference title.  Much had been settled, but much remained in the air too.  The prospects of renewed violence might be slim, but the issues of unresolved problems coming back to haunt the region and Europe as a whole were still real enough. The idea of a Balkan spring if the elites went on dodging the need to change was touched on from time to time. One point of concern raised by many was that the younger generations knew their counterparts across the ethnic dividing lines much less well than their elders had.  This was not a good sign for the future. So the Balkans had become boring but not yet boring enough. And the EU remained the solution.

We therefore finished our discussions uneasily poised between pessimism and optimism, perhaps tending to the former in the long term because of the apparently poor economic prospects, but also recognising that the next few months could bring a unique combination of favourable moves forward (Croatian accession, Kosovo-Serbia relations, Albanian elections, Macedonia name solution...).  Of one thing we were certain: the countries of the region had to take their own decisions and solve their own problems, but the EU in particular, and the international community in general, could not afford a policy of benign neglect or indifference to what was happening there.

PARTICIPANTS

CHAIR:  The Rt Hon Baroness Neville-Jones of Hutton Roof  (UK)
Special Representative to Business on Cyber Security, House of Lords.  Formerly: Minister of State for Security and Counter Terrorism (2010-11); Shadow Minister for Security and National Security Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition (2007-2010); Chair, Information Assurance Advisory Council (2005-07); Chair, QinetiQ (2000-05); A Governor, BBC (1998-2004); Vice Chairman, Hawkpoint Partners Ltd (1998-2000); Managing Director, NatWest Markets (1996-98); HM Diplomatic Service (1963-96); Deputy Under Secretary of State and Political Director, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) (1994-96); Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee (1992-94); Minister, British Embassy, Bonn (1988-91); Head of Planning Staff, FCO (1983-87). A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.

AUSTRIA

Dr Valentin Inzko
Austrian Diplomatic Service (1981-); High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (2009-).  Formerly: High Representative and EU Special Representative (2009-11); Ambassador to Slovenia (2005-09); Director, Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus Department (1999-2005);first Resident Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996-99).

Mr Gerald Knaus
President and Founding Chairman, European Stability Initiative, Istanbul; Founding Member, European Council on Foreign Relations; Associate Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.  Formerly: Visiting Fellow (state building and intervention), John F Kennedy School of Government (2010-11); Director, Lessons Learned and Analysis Unit, European Union Pillar, UN Mission in Kosovo (2001-04).

Mr Stefan Lehne
Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Brussels.  Formerly: Austrian Diplomatic Service; Director General for Political Affairs, Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs (2009-11); Director for the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union (2002-08); Head, Task Force for Western Balkans and Central Europe.

BELGIUM

Mr Fabrice de Kerchove 
Project Manager, Democracy in the Balkans, King Baudouin Foundation, Brussels.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Professor Fikret Causevic 
Professor of Economics, School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo; Member of the Board of Governors, Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2009-15).  Formerly: 2011/2012 Alpha Bank/South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX) Visiting Fellow, St Antony's College, University of Oxford.

Ms Denisa Sarajlic-Maglic 
Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) (2012-); Director, Political Department, Governance Accountability Project.  Formerly: Director, Foreign Policy Initiative BH, Sarajevo (2010-12); Political Adviser, Office of the High Representative (2003-04); Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of BH; Deputy Director, Out of Country Voting Department, OSCE Mission to BiH.

CANADA

Dr Magdalena Dembinska
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Montreal.

Major General David Fraser (Retd) CMM, MSC, MSM, CD
Formerly: Canadian Army (1980-2011); Commander, Land Forces Doctrine and Training System and 1 Canadian Division (2010-11); Commandant, Canadian Forces College (2007-09); Commander, Multi-National Brigade, Regional Command South, Afghanistan (2006); Commander, 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2005-06); Commander, Multinational Brigade for Regional Command South, Afghanistan's southern provinces (2006); Military Assistant to Sarajevo Commander, UN Protection Force (1994-95).

Ms Kelly O'Connor
Rhodes Scholar: MSc Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Masters of Public Policy Candidate, St Antony's College, University of Oxford.  Formerly: Intern, Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health, Ottawa (2011); Intern, Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights (2010); Co-Founder and Coordinator, Centre for International Studies (2009-11); Research and Project Development Agent, Rights and Democracy Student Network (2009).

Mr James R Wright
Formerly: Canadian High Commissioner, London (2006-11); Assistant Deputy Minister and Political Director, International Security Branch, Foreign Affairs Canada (2005-06); Political Director for Canada (2000-06); Assistant Deputy Minister, Global and Security Policy Branch, Foreign Affairs Canada (2000-04); Director-General, Central, East and South Europe Bureau (1996-2000); Minister, Political and Public Affairs, Canadian High Commission, London (1992-96).  Former Governor and Member of the Council of Management, The Ditchley Foundation.

EU/GREECE

Ms Anna-Maria Boura
European External Action Service Senior Advisor on Belgrade-Pristina dialogue; Greek Diplomatic Service.  Formerly: Member, EU Preparation Team in Kosovo (2006-07); Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations (2004-06);  Embassy of Greece, London (2000-03); Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Greece, Tirana (1998-2000); Embassy of Greece, Moscow (1995-98); Deputy European Correspondent, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Athens (1994-95).

EU/ITALY

Mr Fernando Gentilini
Italian Diplomatic Service (1990-); Director, Western Europe, Western Balkans, Turkey, European External Action Service (EEAS), Brussels (2011-).  Formerly: Senior Adviser on the Western Balkans, on secondment to the EU Council Secretariat/EEAS; NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, on secondment to NATO (2008-10); Deputy Diplomatic Advisor to the Italian Prime Minister, Rome, on secondment to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (2006-08); EU High Representative's Personal Representative in Kosovo (2004); Head of Unit for Western Balkans (2002-04).

Mr Stefano Sannino
European Commission (2002-); Director General for Enlargement, Enlargement DG, European Commission (2011-).  Formerly: Deputy Director General for Enlargement (2010-11); Deputy Director-General for External Relations in charge of Asia and Latin America (2009-10); Director for Crisis Management and Representative of the Commission to the Political and Security Committee (2004-06); Diplomatic Advisor to President Prodi and his Sherpa to the G-8 (2002-04); Italian Diplomatic Service; Ambassador/Head of the OSCE mission to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (2001-02).

FRANCE

Professor Jacques Rupnik
Director of Research, Center for International Studies and Research (CERI), Paris; Professor, Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po), Paris and College of Europe, Bruges; Board Member, The Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, The Hague.  Formerly: Executive Director, International Commission on the Balkans.

GERMANY

Ambassador Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff
Special Envoy for South Eastern Europe, Turkey and the EFTA States, German Federal Foreign Office (2010-).  Formerly: Ambassador of Germany to the Republic of Moldova (2007-10); Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, UNMIK, Pristina (2003-05).

LUXEMBOURG

Professor Florian Bieber
Professor for Southeast European Studies (2010-) and Director, Center for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz; Visiting Professor, Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University; Editor-in-Chief, Nationalities Papers.  Formerly: Lecturer in East European Politics, University of Kent; Visiting Fellow, Research on South Eastern Europe, London School of Economics (2010); International Policy Fellow, Open Society Institute; European Centre for Minority Issues, Belgrade and Sarajevo (2001-06).

MACEDONIA

The Honourable Srgjan Kerim PhD
President of the Board of Directors, Media Print Macedonia, Skopje.  Formerly: President, United Nations General Assembly (2007-08); Permanent Representative of the Republic of Macedonia to the United Nations in New York (2001-03); Minister (2001-03); Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia (2000-01); Special Envoy of the Coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe (2000); Ambassador to Germany (1994-2000); to Switzerland and Liechtenstein (1995-2000).

NATO/GERMANY

Mr Leonid Graf von Keyserlingk
On secondment from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Chief Political Advisor to the Commander, Kosovo Forces, Pristina (2010-).  Formerly: Security Affairs Unit, International Civilian Office, Kosovo (2008-10); Reserve Officer, German Army; Military and Civilian positions in EU and NATO missions (2004-07).

OSCE/USA

Mr Fletcher Burton
US Diplomatic Service; Head of Mission, OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011-).Formerly: Head, US Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), Kirkuk, Iraq (2010-11); Deputy International Civilian Representative, International Civilian Office, Kosovo (2008-10); Director, PRT, Panjshir, Afghanistan; Deputy Principal Officer, US Office, Pristina (2001-02); Deputy Chief of Mission, then Head of Political-Economic Section, US Embassy, Sarajevo (1995-97).

REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA

Mr Ditmir Bushati
Member of Albanian Parliament (Socialist) for Tirana (2009-); Chairman, European Integration Committee, Albanian Parliament.  Formerly: Director and Chair, European Movement in Albania; Member, Legal Advisory Team, Office of the President; Legal Advisor to the Constitutional Court; Director, Legal Approximation Department, Ministry of European Integration.

Mr Leonard Demi
Member (Democratic Party), Albanian Parliament (1996-); Chair, National Security Committee (2005-); Head, Albanian Delegation, NATO Parliamentary Assembly; Lecturer: University of Tirana and Defense Academy (2000-).  Formerly: Secretary of Defense (1996-97); Political Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1992-96); Researcher, Academy of Sciences of Albania (1989-92).

Ms Edith Harxhi 
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania (2005-).  Formerly: Lecturer (foreign policy and diplomacy), Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Pristina University (2003-05); Political Adviser to Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Pillar II Civil Administration, UNMIK (2001-02).

REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

His Excellency Dr Ivan Grdesic
Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Formerly: Ambassador to the United States of America; Member, Advisory Council for Foreign Policy and International Relations to the President of the Republic of Croatia; Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Zagreb.

Mr Neven Mimica MSc 
Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia for Home, Foreign and European Affairs (2011-).  Formerly: Member of the Croatian Parliament and Chairman of the European Integration Committee (2004-08 and 2008-11); Deputy Speaker of Parliament (2008-11); Minister for European Integration (2001-03); Chief Negotiator of the Republic of Croatia on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union (2000-01); Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs (2000).

Ms Romana Vlahutin 
Foreign Affairs Adviser to the President of Croatia, Zagreb.  Formerly: Croatian Diplomatic Service; Deputy Ambassador and Head of Political Department, Embassy of Croatia to Serbia; Director of Policy Planning in MFA; Political Officer, Embassy of Croatia to the USA; Political Director of the OSCE Mission to Kosovo; Study on NATO enlargement in South East Europe, RAND Institute; Analyst, Strategy Team, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO/REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA

Mr Pëllumb Kallaba
Foreign Policy Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Gent Salihu
Master of Public Policy candidate, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.  Formerly: Political Advisor to the President, Office of the President of Kosovo (2012); Research Analyst, Public International Law and Policy Group, Washington DC (2011).

REPUBLIC OF SERBIA

Dr Milica Delevic
Member, National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and Chair, European Integration Committee.  Formerly: Director, European Integration Office, Government of the Republic of Serbia (2008-12); Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and Director General, General Directorate for European Union (2007-08); Coordinator, National Strategy of Serbia for the Accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the European Union, European Integration Office of the Government of the Republic of Serbia (2005).

Mr Bozidar Djelic 
Member (Democratic Party), National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia; Member, 'Transition to Transition' High Level Advisory Group, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  Formerly: Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration and Minister of Science and Technological Development (2008-11); Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia (2007-08); Group Director for Eastern Europe, Crédit Agricole, Paris (2005-07); Minister of Finance and Economy of Serbia (2001-04).

Ms Sonja Licht
Founder and President, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (2003-); Founder (2011), Belgrade Security Forum; Member, Council of Europe Group of Eminent Persons.  Formerly: Chair, Foreign Affairs Council, Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2009-12); Executive Director then President, Fund for an Open Society (Soros Foundation) Yugoslavia (later Serbia) (1991-2003); Chair, Task Force of the Bratislava Process (on the Future of Yugoslavia) (1999-2001); Co-Chair, Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, Prague (1991-95).

RUSSIA

Mr Petr Ivantsov 
Deputy Director, 4th European Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.  Formerly: Head of the Office of Political Affairs, United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Kosovo; Director, Political Office, UNMIK.

SLOVAKIA

Dr Denisa Kostovicova
Senior Lecturer in Global Politics, Government Department, and Research Fellow, Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, Department of International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science.

SLOVENIA

Dr Peter Kraljic                             
Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Company, Inc.; Member of the Board of Directors, Severstal.

UK

Mr Robert Cooper KCMG MVO
Special Adviser to the EU High Representative; Visiting Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science.  Formerly: Counsellor, European External Action Service (2011-12); Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs, General Secretariat, Council of the European Union (2002-10); HM Diplomatic Service (1970-2002); Special Representative for the British Government on Afghanistan (2001-02); Head, Defence and Overseas Secretariat, Cabinet Office (1999-2001).  A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.

Ambassador Michael Davenport
HM Diplomatic Service (1988-); Ambassador to Serbia (2010-).  Formerly: Director, Russia, Central Asia and the South Caucasus, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) (2007-10); Deputy Head of Mission, Cairo (2004-07); Commercial Counsellor and Consul-General, Warsaw (2000-03); First Secretary, British Embassy, Moscow (1996-99); Head, UN Peacekeeping Section, FCO.

Mr Owen Jenkins
Balkans Director and Head, Western Balkans and EU Enlargement Department, European Directorate, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mr Tim Judah
Balkans Correspondent and Eastern Approaches Online Columnist, The Economist; Europe Columnist, Bloomberg World View (2013-); Chairman, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network; Author: 'The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia'; 'Kosovo: War and Revenge'; 'Kosovo: What Everyone Needs to Know'.  Formerly: Senior Visiting Research Fellow, South East European Research Unit, European Institute, London School of Economics (2009); Correspondent, The Times and The Economist, Belgrade (1991-95); Bucharest (1990-91).

Mr Laza Kekic
Regional Director, Europe, and Director, Country Forecasting Services, Economist Intelligence Unit.

USA

Ambassador Robert Gelbard
Chief Executive Officer, Gelbard Consulting International, Washington DC;  Member, Boards of Directors of: Atlantic Council, US-Serbia/Montenegro Business Council; Chairman, Boards of Advisors of: International Institute for Security and Cooperation, Bulgaria, University of Notre Dame's Center for Civil and Human Rights; Member, American Academy of Diplomacy.  Formerly: United States Foreign Service; President's Special Representative for the Balkans; Ambassador to Indonesia; to Bolivia; Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Mr Andrew Michels
Senior Civilian Advisor for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs of Staff Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell, National Military Command Center - Pentagon; Adjunct Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; Adjunct Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.  Formerly: Head of Security Affairs, International Civilian Office, Pristina, Kosovo; Director of Peacekeeping Operations and Humanitarian Affairs, DynCorp International; Executive Director, International Human Rights Law Institute, DePaul University School of Law; United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo.

Dr Marko Prelec 
Director, Balkans Project, International Crisis Group, Brussels.  Formerly: Founder and Head, Research and Analysis Section, Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2005); Research Officer, Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1999-2005).

Ambassador Philip Reeker
US Diplomatic Service; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State  (2011-).  Formerly: US Ambassador to Macedonia; Counselor, US Embassy, Baghdad (2007-08); Deputy Chief of Mission, Budapest (2004-07); Deputy Spokesman/Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of State (2000-03); Public Affairs Officer for Ambassador Christopher Hill, US Embassy, Skopje, and Special Envoy for Kosovo (and the Rambouillet Process) (1997-99).

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