After two decades of modest interest in the region, France has recently signalled its intention to intensify its engagement in the Western Balkans. In 2016, Paris hosted the Conference of the Berlin Process and played an important role in the establishment of RYCO. In 2017, France launched together with Germany an Initiative on the Fight against Firearms Trafficking. In 2018, it extended the mandate of the French Development Agency to the countries of the region. In 2019, together with Germany, it initiated an intergovernmental dialogue with Serbia and Kosovo and adopted a National Strategy for the Western Balkans. In 2020, after a two-year stalemate, France lifted its reservations against the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, while drawing the contours of the newly revised enlargement methodology.
This panel discussion will focus on questions such as: what is the potential of societal cooperation between France and the Western Balkans? In what ways can the ties of civil society from the Western Balkans with CSOs from France be strengthened? How can civil society from the Western Balkans contribute to the perception of France in the eyes of citizens during its forthcoming presidency of the Council of the EU? How providing educational opportunities to young people from the Western Balkans in France can contribute to societal connectivity? How can cultural ties create bridges between people from France with people in the Western Balkans?
The aim of this discussion is to analyse civic, cultural, and youth cooperation. The result of these deliberations will be summarised in a policy paper published ahead of the French Presidency of the Council and presented in Paris. This event is jointly organised by Euro Créative, the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (CFA/ÖFZ) and European Policy Centre (CEP), with the support of the French Embassy as a part of the initiative building on the French Strategy for the Western Balkans.
The panel discussion is divided into three sub-panels each focusing on the following topics: The Role of Civil Sector in Boosting Cooperation between the Western Balkans and France; Opportunities for Young People Arising from Enhanced Cooperation between France and the Western Balkans; Cultural Ties as the Foundation of Societal Cooperation. You can find the full agenda with the potential impulse speakers in the attached document. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in the discussion.
This event is expert-based and closed for the public, while the working language is French with simultaneous translation into English.