ISAC’s 3rd Expert Conference “CFSP and Serbia’s Accession to the European Union: What Next?” held on December 6th

ISAC Fund, with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Open Society Foundation, organised its 3rd international CFSP expert conference “CFSP and Serbia’s Accession to the European Union: What Next?” held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belgrade on December 6, 2018.

The event was opened by Milan Pajevic, Chairman of the Advisory Board at the ISAC Fund, whereas Tanja Miscevic, Head of Serbia’s Negotiating Team for the Accession to the EU and Thomas Schieb, Ambassador of Germany to Serbia, gave the opening addresses.

There were a total of three panels at the conference with the following panel participants:

Tanja Miščević, Head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union

Thomas Schieb, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Serbia

Vladimir Međak, Vice President, European Movement in Serbia

Aleksandar Andrija Pejović, former Minister and Chief Negotiator for the Accession of Montenegro to the European Union

Dejan Ralević, Deputy Assistant Minister for European Integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia

Maciej Stadejek, Director, Bureau of the Political Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland

Noora Hayrinen, Head of Political Section, European Union Delegation to Serbia

Milan Sekuloski, Senior Adviser, DCAF

Svetlana Jovanović, Senior Adviser, Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Delivery Unit – IT & eGovernment

Adel Abusara, Democratization Department, OSCE Mission to Serbia

Marko Savković, Program Director, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence

Nikola Burazer, Executive Editor, European Western Balkans

The conference represents the continuation of ISAC’s activities in the area of foreign and security policy monitoring and outreach towards decision and opinion makers. In contrast to ISAC’s CFSP flagship events which take place in the spring, the expert CFSP conferences focus more directly on policy and leads to possible policy recommendations that will be published later.

The main focus of this expert conference was on Serbia’s alignment with the EU’s approach on topics related to Chapter 31 (Common Foreign, Security and Defence policy). Furthermore, issues and challenges that affect directly the formulation of a common position which deals with security and defence in Europe, such as hybrid threats and cyber security, were discussed.

Participants in the first panel “Chapter 31 and Serbia – How to Achieve Alignment?” agreed that Serbia has been moving away, instead of moving towards aligning with the EU’s foreign policy declarations and measures since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. In spite of that, the EU and its Member States should fully support Serbia to begin with more active alignment policy, which primarily refers to the submission of the screening report. It should be noted that Serbia has now been waiting for almost 4 years to receive the screening report for Chapter 31.

Hybrid threats and cyber security were topics of the second panel, and panelists highlighted that these kinds of challenges cross over state borders. At the same time, more attention is being given to not only hybrid threats directed towards democratic countries but also towards states using those hybrid tools against their own citizens. On the other hand, cyber threats are a particular issue because states cannot respond to them on their own, and extensive cooperation with private companies and the civil society sector is required.

At the end of the conference, within a young leader’s session on European integrations, students and young professionals from Serbia had an opportunity to participate in an off-the record open discussion with Tanja Miscevic and Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic, and to find out how this complex process for Serbia and Montenegro looks from behind the scenes. Participants could exchange their opinion, ask questions and talk about everything they were interested in regarding this process.

During the conference, ISAC Fund also presented several analysis and policy perspectives:

An analysis of Serbia’s alignment with the European Union’s foreign policy declarations and measures in 2018: Semi-annual Review

The European Union and the Russian Federation – the issue of sanctions

Serbia and Negotiations within Chapter 31: Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy

We are very pleased to end the year with such an event, and would like to thank all of the conference participants who attended! In the next period we will be publishing more detailed conference conclusions, policy recommendations and start laying the ground for our next CFSP event in the spring of 2019.