Pierre Mirel (Director, DG Enlargement) goes through the latest updates from the negotiations between the EU and the former Yugoslav countries. He also outlines the principal challenges that stand in the way of these countries’ advancement towards EU accession.
This speech was pronounced at a conference organised by Notre Europe in Belgrade over the 14th and 15th of December 2009. Convened a few short weeks after the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this conference was an invitation to look “Beyond the Wall”, at a time when Europe was happily celebrating its “unification”.
A symbol of union, the Fall of the Berlin Wall does not indeed hold the same meaning for all Europeans: the rupture of the Cold War order took Yugoslavia in its wake; and the images from Berlin inversely invoke those from Sarajevo. Contra to the great tide of aggregation begun in 1989 between the East and West of Europe, the decade of the 90s was a time of dislocation in iron and blood for the Yugoslav populations.
The trajectories of the West Balkan countries singularly remained the blind spot of the reflections, prospective and retrospective, which accompanied the commemorations of the Fall of “the” Wall. But what gaze do the people from South East Europe cast over the last two decades? What societies are they building? How do they envisage their future?
In order to examine all these questions, Notre Europe and Kulturni Front (a Belgrade-based cultural NGO) invited political leaders, academics, public intellectuals and journalists from all across Europe to gather in Belgrade (Giuliano Amato, Jacques Rupnik, Pierre Mirel, Ivan Vujacic, Vesna Goldsworthy, Chris Hann, Ivan Colovic, Pierre Hassner, etc.) .
These two days of far reaching debates were complemented by four evenings of culture, art and enjoyment: film screenings with movie director Adela Peeva and actors Zana Marjanovic (Snijeg/Snow) and Dimitrije Vojnov (Tito and Me); public readings by writers Muharem Bazdulj, Vesna Goldsworthy and Igor Stiks; and the opening of a photography exhibition entitled “The European Parliament – Future archive” by Martin Kollar (Agence VU’).
A selection of the contributions to the conference will be published on our website in March 2010.