Maja Piscevic, a Senior Fellow at EWI, talks to the European Western Balkans about the region's challenges and how the institute expects to play a role in addressing them.
European Western Balkans: The opening of the EastWest Institute office in Belgrade has been recently announced, when you, together with the CEO of the Institute, Cameron Munter, met with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, the Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić. When will the office be put in motion?
Maja Piščević: At its spring meeting in London, the Board of Directors of the EastWest Institute supported the proposal of Ambassador Munter that the Institute, after more than a decade, ought to return to the Balkans and to support, from Belgrade, the economic integration processes and the prevention of future conflicts in the region.
The aim of the meetings with the President of Serbia, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs was to familiarize them with the mission and the specific way the EWI works, as well as concrete talks on possible ways of engaging EWI through its wide network of diplomatic and expert contacts around the world. EastWest Balkans has been operational since the beginning of July and I hope that we will soon be able to announce the first projects.
EWB: Since the office in Belgrade will be the third office of the East-West Institute beyond the borders of the United States, after Moscow and Brussels, should this be understood as a signal of the importance of this region for global security?
MP: Absolutely! The wars that occurred in this region as a result of the disintegration of Yugoslavia are today a past, but the region continues to face numerous challenges, regardless of the fact that they are rarely written on the front pages of the Western media. The Dayton Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia represents today a fragile and often inefficient structure for managing the country. The agreement between Serbia and Kosovo has not yet been reached, and it is a prerequisite for the European future of both actors. Macedonia continues to face internal challenges, and the same can be said for Croatia, although it is a member state of the European Union.