EWI CEO & President Cameron Munter will be a part of the panel on "The New European Security Strategy: EU in a Global World and Its Transatlantic Partners" on October 13. Prior to his appearance, Munter talks to the European Western Balkans.
When asked about the current challenges within the EU and whether the enlargement process should slow down or accelerate, Cameron Munter expressed his confidence that the EU integration process should continute to develop at an accelerated pace. “I’ve always believed that the best way for Europeans to prosper, build strong democratic institutions, and help one another is through membership in the European Union. It’s also a great way to get beyond the misunderstandings of the past, and make national boundaries less important than shared values. That said, such events as the Greek financial crisis and the Brexit vote have raised questions about the EU: does it need reform? Is it the model many wanted it to be? The answers are: yes; and yes. I still believe that the EU is a positive and powerful institution that promotes the best elements of European civilization: tolerance, solidarity, diversity. The countries of the Western Balkans will only benefit from continued efforts to harmonize with the EU. Certainly, this is no time to slow down,” Munter explained.
Regarding the Western Balkans’ geopolitical position, Munter pointed out that the region has to face a critical test. On one hand, these countries could leverage their position or, on the other hand, be a part of a broader solution of serious political and economic problems in the region. “In my mind, if the Balkan countries try to manipulate crisis for advantage, they’re showing that the old days of closed-mindedness and suspicion have the upper hand. Rather, those of us who have always advocated Balkan membership in European institutions and a stronger Balkan voice in international affairs hope that this test — dealing with migration, with radical Islam, with economic challenges — will show the best of Balkan determination to solve problems, be part of the solutions of the future, and prove that the old days of conflict (so often associated with the word Balkans) might just be in the past,” said Munter.
Western Balkans countries cannot answer the current challenges of the refugee crisis by themselves and accordingly, the support of the EU has been evident. However, we asked our interlocutor about the role of other players in the Middle East, like the United States and Russia. “These are extremely difficult and sad times in Syria. The problems are among the most complicated I’ve ever seen. I believe that the migration issue — one part of this challenge — will only be solved by peace in the region. And sadly, peace seems elusive. I hope that the U.S. and Russia can find ways to contribute to a lasting peace. If they do, we’ll see some progress on the migration issue,” Munter highlighted.
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