ISAC Fund organized its traditional yearly conference dedicated to the Common Foreign and Security Policy “CFSP and Serbia’s Accession to the EU: Vulnerabilities and Resilience” on December 21, 2021 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belgrade.
Besides Serbia’s harmonization with EU foreign policy, the topic of this year’s conference was the latest analysis of the vulnerability towards Chinese and Russian malign influence in the countries of Central Europe and the Western Balkans. ISAC together with its partner GLOBSEC from Slovakia published the Vulnerability Index in November, which was distributed to all the conference participants, and served as the basis for the discussion. You can find the publication “Vulnerability Index” here.
Welcome and introductory remarks were given by Nikola Petrović, Director of ISAC Fund and Dirk Lorenz, Head of Political Section of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia. Participants in the first panel Serbia’s Alignment with the Eu’s CFSP – Progress or Stagnation? were: Elsa Fenet, Head of Division ‘Western Balkans’, EEAS; Nemanja Starović, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Serbia; and Marko Savković, Executive Director, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence. The discussion was moderated by ISAC’s Research Director, Igor Novaković.
The panellists exchanged their views on Serbia’s current progress in Chapter 31 and agreed that progress has been made, as well as with the overall pace of European integration. At the same time, the message coming from Brussels is that Serbia has to continue to show it is increasing its alignment and address all other commitments it has on the European path.
The topic of the second panel was Vulnerability to Third State Interests in Central and Eastern Europe and included the following participants: Dominika Hajdu, Policy Director, Centre for Democracy & Resilience, GLOBSEC; Goran Georgiev, Security Program Analyst, Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), Bulgaria; Tena Prelec, Research Associate, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, UK; Nikola Burazer, Program Director, Center for Contemporary Policies, while the moderator was ISAC’s Program Manager, Natan Albahari.
The panel identified Russian influence and disinformation in Serbia and the rest of Central and Eastern European countries of great concern, the panellists also agreed that China’s influence per se is not necessarily malign, but that we should look at the practices and the influence of these countries on values and democracy.
More detailed conclusions and points discussed will be available on ISAC’s site and social media in the upcoming period.
It was our pleasure to gather relevant experts and associates for the end of the year in order to summarize the most important events behind us in the field of foreign policy and security.
Thanks again to all the panellists and participants for their contributions!
Pictures from the event will be available on the ISAC Facebook page and Instagram profile.