May 7, 2024  Podgorica, Montenegro


In 2003, at the Thessaloniki Summit, the European Union (EU) announced a clear membership perspective for the Western Balkans. However, despite ongoing efforts, challenges have persisted, and apart from Croatia no other state from the region has succeeded so far to join the Union. The main reasons for these challenges were political blockades, unresolved bilateral issues in the region, and internal challenges affecting the EU, as well as deficient geopolitical thinking in Brussels and some EU capitals regarding the Western Balkans. Now with two years of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East, there is a growing awareness that something should be done regarding the EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. Currently, in Brussels and some EU capitals, one popular idea on how to move forward is the concept of “front-runners.” According to this idea, these are the candidates that have a chance for a faster integration process and can serve as examples to others.


To discuss these issues and ideas, the Council for Inclusive Governance (CIG) in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office of Germany (AA) organized on May 7, 2024, in Podgorica, Montenegro, a roundtable for senior officials of the main political parties from the Western Balkans. The roundtable is part of a larger initiative to strengthen the region in the face of new geopolitical challenges. CIG’s Senior Associate Igor Novakovic drafted the report below.

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