Institute for European Affairs is focusing on negotiations between Serbia and the EU as well as on strengthening the capacity of all sides involved in the process. Given the complexity and long duration of the process, the Institute brings together a large number of professionals and external experts with whom organises trainings, debates and other forms of capacity development. We want to contribute to enhanced understanding of Serbia-EU relations. The Institute provides multi-perspective trainings in order to enable active participation of professionals and citizens in the decision-making processes. The Institute actively advocates for fundamental reforms within the EU integration process and in cooperation with partners working on strengthening Serbia's capacity to face the challenges of the global world through collective action. The overall objective is active membership of Serbia in Euro-Atlantic framework for the benefit of all citizens.

How can EU integration help regional reconciliation and how can I contribute to cooperation in the region.

Since 1991, SEE countries were their own victims: too much nationalism combined with strong cultural heritage, and experimental, polarized political ideas. That was very strange mixture, which created so-called Balkan powder keg, with countdown mechanism. In modern SEE history we can make difference between three periods – (1) conflict: between 1991 and 1995, implementation of accumulated national ideas, (2) post-conflict: between 1995 and 2001, false tension reducing time, with “occasional” Kosovo conflict, and (3) EU-based period: since 2001, every former republic of Yugoslavia (and other parts of it) turned towards EU integrations, with idea to forget previous conflicts with their neighbours. Upon this facts, queston is raised – is there any chance to make peace between countries? If answer is yes, how can it be made? Obviously , one answer can be – diplomatic action, and other one – EU integration. First option, is less like for SEE countries. Why? Well, if in war time, leaders did not had enough will to stop conflict, deal with problems, past and make solution for everyone, for sure there is no chance to do that now. Many political parties and persons swaped on the head of states since 1995, but again – will is a problem. And reasons for not seeking it, are mostly nationalism problems, already mentioned historical and cultural heritage, and (not so) big ethnic difference. Every leader had fear to face with such problems, since his votes depended on his willnes to convict his own or another nation. So, if reconciliation depends upon government, it will be apparent, since there is no facing with problems, but just simple “blind run across”.

Every EU integration process is country-specific, such case is (will be) with Serbia. By the EU-101-Handbook (so called Acquis communautaire) integration process starts few years before accession, and it is guided by screening procedure. I think, that in case of Serbia, as it is already mentioned that integration is country-specific, real EU integration process will start after it becomes EU member. Main reason for such statement is in fact that international community request (for Serbia) is “just” in reconciliation domain, dealing with ethnical problems and regulation of relations with former Yugoslav republics. Other, more “material” bullet-points are pretty much solvable by EU framework and certain guidelines.

So, why EU integrations (or just EU?) is solution for SEE post-conflict time? Well, there is no doubt, that economic and civil-development factors are main reasons for getting into integrations, but there is third, I belive most important reason: (imposed) idea to face mentioned problems maded up in period between 1991 and 2001 – deal with the past. Imposed or not, that idea is accepted within SEE countries for the sake of country growth, but mostly because of modern consciousness about war victims. So, EU integrations will consolidate and unify SEE in many ways, and will give framework for overcoming region problems. That framework consists of series of dialogues – Brussels treaty is great example, inter-country economic cooperations, and youth cultural, educational and scientific exchange.

How can I contribute? Or better question would be: how can youth contribute in regional reconciliation? Socializing with youth from Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I actually realized that they are sick of conflicts, and they have no influence neither on state or political decisions. Their main inflow are civil society organisations, which allows them to communicate with non-their-nation members. From conversation I understood how they see Serbia, and Serbian youth: as a pillar of reconciliation and carrier of regional politic. Now, let us see this through framework mentioned above – there is always chance for dialogue to fail. Governments can decline cooperation, continue with blindfold politics; inter-country economic cooperation can fail in same way – or there is not enough funds, or there is no will to invest; but third component can never fail. Youth are information-carriers, and they can make real “image” about situation, war, victims, problems, politics and way to overcome. Especialy through science and education – with cultural exchange you can just give extra boost. That is a sign – this is mine role, and that is contribution for which one I will do my best. That is the path which we all should follow.

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