On 20 June 2008 the International Network for European Studies hosted a Discussion Panel on “Current and Future Challenges of the Western Balkans” at Bremen Regional Assembly (Bremische Bürgerschaft), in cooperation with EuropaPunktBremen. Up to 50 participants followed a wide range of contributions by distinct representatives of research and politics, such as Marieluise Beck MdB, Hans Koschnick, Prof. Dr. Josef Falke, and Hamdi Reqica.
After an up-to-date introduction to the topic by INES Chairman Erik Breves, Prof. Dr. Josef Falke from the Center for European Law and Policy (ZERP) at the University of Bremen outline the EU’s policy towards the Western Balkans. By providing detailed legal and political considerations of the process of regional association hitherto as well as its perspectives, he paved the ground for the upcoming contributions, which were mainly regionally concentrated.
Next was a dedicated speech by Marieluise Beck (Member of the German Bundestag), who has been Commissioner for Migration Issues of the German Federal Government from 1998 till 2005, thus gaining a lot of personal experience in the Western Balkans region. Currently she is a member of the Committee for Foreign Affairs of the German Bundestag.
During a short break, EuropaPunktBremen took good care of the participants by offering coffee and pretzels, before Hans Koschnick took over for a multifaceted and personal contribution. Hans Koschnick has been Prime Minister of the Federal State of Bremen for almost two decades before being appointed EU Administrator for the City of Mostar in Bosnia, Commissioner of the German Federal Government for Refugees and Reconstruction in Bosnia and Hercegovina and – later – Chairman of the Steering Committee for Refugee Matters within the stabilization pact for Southeastern Europe.
At the end of the afternoon, Hamdi Reqica, Ph.D. student at the University of Bremen, outlined perspectives for Kosovo after its declaration of independence.
In the evening, a panel discussion on European perspectives for the Western Balkans topped off the program. Moderated by INES Chairman Erik Breves, the speakers (Prof. Dr. Josef Falke, Hamdi Reqica, and Prof. Dr. Hagen Lichtenberg from the Faculty of Law at the University of Bremen) focused on different options for an integration of the Western Balkans Region into the European Union. Respective plannings have currently been challenged again by the negative outcome of the referendum in the Republic of Ireland.
Feedback and acknowledgments from numerous participants have proved that the INES Discussion Panel has initiated multifarious though-provoking impulses. The Weser-Kurier (Bremen Regional Newspaper) reported about the event in its issue of 24 June. The INES Board as well as EuropaPunktBremen assessed the event and their cooperation as a great success, looking forward to further similar activities in the future.
Newspaper Coverage (German)