Balkans in 2020 Workshop


The Balkans have been at peace for more than a decade. However, deteriorating economies, a difficult external environment, unresolved disputes in the region and ongoing inter-ethnic tensions raise serious questions about political stability and whether the peace is sustainable. The next decade will undoubtedly be a challenging one for Balkan economies and polities.

About the Workshop

This seminar was devoted to examining prospects for the region to 2020. Brief introductory presentations and panel discussions covered four broad areas—politics, security, economics and the role of external actors, in particular the EU. The theses and questions, presented below, served as a framework for discussion.

Theses for discussion

Panel I - Politics to 2020: Consolidation or Erosion of Democracy?

  • Democratic deficits: why the recent regression in democracy and will it persist?
  • How representative are political elites or are they becoming increasingly isolated?
  • What is the role of NGOs?
  • What lies behind the apparent decline in popular support for democracy?
  • Why is media freedom being eroded?
  • How much of a worry is political apathy?
  • Would another recession lead to social unrest?
  • Has EU conditionality weakened the domestic political sphere of EU member and aspirant states?
  • To what extent is political risk a deterrent for business?
  • Is political stability possible with endemic corruption?

Panel II - Economic Outlook: The End of Convergence?

  • The impact of the Greek crisis on neighbouring countries: How bad could it get?
  • Will the euro zone crisis lead to a lost decade for the Balkan economies?
  • How meaningful is talk of new growth models?
  • What are the main obstacles to accelerating growth to 2020?
  • Following the collapse in foreign direct investment flows since 2009, what is the outlook for a recovery in inflows?
  • How important to economic prospects are relations with the EU?
  • Why is life satisfaction so low in the Balkans?
  • Does regional economic cooperation make any difference to growth prospects?
  • Can regional cooperation provide growth stimulus?
  • Balkan underperformance: Are the Balkans fated to become Europe's Mezzogiorno?

Panel III - Security Challenges: Back to the Future?

  • Will there be any more changes in Balkan borders by 2020?
  • So what if Kosovo remains a frozen conflict?
  • Do we need any more international conferences on the Balkans?
  • Is sovereignty a useful concept for analysing the Balkans?
  • Does Bosnia need constitutional reform to survive?
  • How stable is the internal security situation in Macedonia?
  • What future has NATO in the Balkans?
  • Is there a role for Russia?
  • Has the US disengaged from the Balkans or is it reinforcing its engagement there?

Panel IV- External Actors: Will the EU be the Only Game in Town in 2020?

  • What is the risk that there will be no EU in 2020?
  • Assuming the EU survives and following Croatia's entry, will there be any further enlargement, before 2020 or after that?
  • How much would it matter if there is no more enlargement?
  • Will Serbia be granted candidate member status in March 2012?
  • Is the carrot of EU membership a crucial one for stability and development? Are there any advantages of being left out?
  • Can the EU continue to play a pivotal role if enlargement is off the near-term agenda?
  • What policies should the EU adopt towards the "left-outs"?
  • Is Germany now the only crucial external actor? What about the role of Turkey and China in 2020?


  • ANASTASAKIS, Othon (University of Oxford)
  • BARTLETT, William (LSE)
  • BEGOVIC, Boris (Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies, Belgrade)
  • CUNLIFFE, Philip (University of Kent)
  • DIMITROV, Vesselin (LSE)
  • HANSON, Joanna (FCO)
  • HOEY, Joan (EIU)
  • IGNJATOVIC, Dragana (EIU)
  • JOVIC, Dejan (Advisor to Croatian President)
  • KEKIC, Laza (EIU)
  • KER-LINDSAY, James (LSE)
  • KERIDIS, Dimitris (University of Thessaloniki)
  • KYUCHUKOV, Lyubomir (Bulgarian Ambassador in UK)
  • LAFFEY, Susan (FCO)
  • NAKARADA, Radmila (University of Belgrade)
  • PARTOS, Gabriel (EIU)
  • PAUL, Andrea (Advisor to Rumanian PM)
  • RADOSEVIC, Slavo (UCL)
  • RAKIPI, Albert (Albanian Institute for International Studies)
  • SANFEY, Peter (EBRD)
  • UVALIC, Milica (University of Perugia)
  • WATSON, Max (University of Oxford)
  • RAJAK, Svetozar (LSE)Programme


9.00 – 09:30 Registration/coffee

09:30 – 09:35: Welcome by Svetozar Rajak

9:35 - 11:05: Panel I - Politics to 2020: Consolidation or Erosion of Democracy?

Chair: Joan Hoey

Introduction: Othon Anastasakis, Gabriel Partos, Radmila Nakarada

11:05 – 11:30: Coffee break

11:30 – 13:00: Panel II - Economic Outlook: The End of Convergence?

Chair: Laza Kekic

Introduction: Peter Sanfey, Slavo Radosevic, (tbc)


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch


14:00 – 15:30: Panel III - Security challenges: Back to the future?

Chair: Svetozar Rajak

Introduction: James Ker-Lindsay, Vesselin Dimitrov, Dimitris Keridis


15.30 – 16:00: Coffee break


16.00 – 17:30 Panel IV - External Actors: Will the EU be the Only Game in Town in 2020?

Chair: Max Watson

Speakers: William Bartlett, Boris Begovic, Dejan Jovic


17:30 – 18:00: Concluding comments / Summation and follow up

Speakers: Max Watson, Laza Kekic, Svetozar Rajak



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