EVENT: The future of NATO and EU integration of the Western Balkans: Is there still a role for the US?

On Monday, November 25, 2013, the Emerging Democracies Institute organized a panel discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC titled “The future of NATO and EU integration of the Western Balkans: Is there still a role for the US?”. The panelists included: Jonathan Moore, Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs at the Department of State Haki Abazi, Program Director for the Western Balkans at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Kurt Bassuener, co-founder of the Democratization Policy Council The discussion was moderated by EDI president Reuf Bajrovic.

The Western Balkans has come a long way since the end of the wars of the 1990s. Peace and stability have endured for over a decade in great part due to a very active engagement of the United States. However, with many positive signs evident across the region, the United States seems to have stepped back recently and the European Union is taking the leading role in addressing some of the region’s lingering problems. This approach has many supporters, largely due to the promising signs of progress in some of the Western Balkan countries. Croatia is a member of NATO and the EU. Albania has just held a successful election and is poised to move forward on its EU integration quest. Close to being a NATO member, Montenegro may be the next in line for EU membership. Having negotiated an agreement with Kosovo, Serbia is readying to open its membership talks in January. However, the region is still burdened with many unresolved issues. The Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia does not fundamentally solve the issue of Kosovo’s recognition and its implementation has recently hit a snag. Macedonia’s EU and NATO accession continues to be stalled by the Greek veto while the country faces a host of domestic problems. And the EU leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina has not managed to find a solution to prevent the country from plunging into the deepest political crisis since the US-brokered Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in 1995. This panel focused on the future of the NATO and EU integration processes in the Western Balkans, and the role the US is poised to play in it. Jonathan Moore began his assignment as Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs in August 2012. That office has lead policy responsibilities for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. Mr. Moore, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, joined the State Department in 1990 and was assigned to the Embassy in Belgrade in 1991. He was a desk officer for the former Yugoslavia from 1993 to 1995, and was the Embassy’s Political/Economic Section Chief in Lithuania from 1995 to 1999. After a one-year assignment as a Congressional Fellow in the Policy Office of Speaker of the House Hastert, Mr. Moore was the Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Russian Affairs from 2000 until 2002, serving as Acting Director for several months in early 2002. He then worked as Deputy Chief of Mission in Namibia from 2002 to 2005. Mr. Moore was a 2005-06 National Security Affairs Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was Deputy Chief of Mission in Belarus from 2006 until 2008, and was Chargé there from 2008 until 2009. Before returning to Washington, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2009 to 2012. Mr. Moore has received a Distinguished Honor Award and several Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, two awards for language proficiency from the American Foreign Service Association, and the Lithuanian Orders of Merit and Grand Duke Gediminas. He speaks Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Lithuanian, Russian, German, and Danish. Haki Abazi is the program director for the Western Balkans portion of the RBF’s Pivotal Place program. Prior to joining the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in 2007, Mr. Abazi served as director of the Kosovo office for East West Management Institute, Inc. Mr. Abazi developed and implemented a wide range of programs addressing critical issues in Kosovo during the transition period. He also has played an important role in the development of the civil society in the region. Mr. Abazi has over nine years of experience in designing and managing development programs in Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. These programs were designed to support overall developments and increase the level of participation of citizens in the decision-making processes. Mr. Abazi has in-depth knowledge and work experience related to the Balkan’s civil society community and the geopolitics of the region. He chaired the steering committee for Grantmakers East Forum and sits on the boards of several international organizations. Mr. Abazi holds a degree in computer sciences and management, and was educated in Kosovo and the United States. Kurt Bassuener is an independent policy analyst living in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, he is co-founder and Senior Associate of the Democratization Policy Council a global initiative for accountability in democracy promotion. His opinion pieces and analyses on a variety of topics (Bosnia and Balkan affairs, war crimes accountability, promoting intervention in Darfur, Syria, etc.) have been published in The Irish Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal Europe, Christian Science Monitor, Jane’s Defense Weekly, and the European Voice. He has testified before the Oireachtas’ (Irish Houses of Parliament) Joint Committee on European Affairs (2008, 2010, 2012) and the US Congress’ joint Helsinki Commission (2011). DPC’s most recent analysis, “Not Yet a Done Deal: Kosovo and the Prishtina-Belgrade Agreement” was published in November 2013. With Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman, he co-authored the Diplomats’ Handbook for Democracy Development Support, a project of the Community of Democracies. He received his MA in European Studies from the Central European University in Prague (1994); his thesis advocated fielding a standing all-volunteer UN peacekeeping division under the Security Council. He earned his BA in International Relations from American University’s School of International Service (1991).