The panel discussion featured inputs from Prof. Dejan Jović, Ms. Jovana Marović, Ms. Anida Šabanović and was moderated by Dr. Florent Marciacq. In his opening statement, prof. Jović highlighted the plurality of understanding what Europe and the Balkans respectively are. He continued by saying that the nominal wishes for change exist both in the EU and the Balkans, but the perceptions of what Europe is and should be are vastly different. The EU, according to Prof. Jović, as a concept even within the EU, is understood differently. Ms. Jovana Marović stated that the current political leadership in the region is not showing enough commitment to reform but instead using the EU as a concept of an abstract award to pressure the public into receiving more votes.
Ms. Anida Šabanović turned the perspective of political accountability more towards the political leadership within the EU that is sending mixed signals to the region, yet failing to acknowledge essential components of the society, like youth, since the current discussions focus on accession criteria. However, the present challenges are much the same for the youth in Western Balkans and the EU Member States. The overall message from the panel revolved around the inclusion of youth opinions on the future of Europe because it is their interests that will be affected most by the discussions led currently.
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dialogue Southeast Europe facilitates and encourages equality and inclusion in discussing visions of a joint future. The discussion on the Future of Europe is precisely that. Together with the facilitators in the Western Balkans Perspectives on the Future of Europe project, including the BSF panelists, Jovana Marović and Anida Šabanović, the FES is creating a manifesto of a Future of Europe from the perspective of the Western Balkans aspiring to become a part of this collective.
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