The fifth meeting of the Working Group on the Western Balkans was co-sponsored with the South East European Studies, University of Oxford and was hosted in Oxford, England.


The EU and the US agree that the long-term goal for the Western Balkans is European integration. For a variety of reasons, however, progress on this goal has stalled. This series aims at launching a discussion on the hurdles to enlargement in the Western Balkans, the tools available to various international actors in the region, and how these resources might best be applied to reach the goal of integration most efficiently. These meetings, therefore, address issues that are at the core of the making the Transatlantic relationship work.

According to the logic of conditionality, the promise of membership is the key incentive that compels politicians to implement difficult reforms, and it is the EU's main tool in the accession process. For many reasons, however, conditionality is not working the same way in the Western Balkans as it has in previous enlargements: in some cases, post-conflict interventions put the international community in charge of implementing reforms, allowing politicians to shirk responsibility; the on-going economic crisis in the EU and the related internal discord have made the EU less attractive; and the prolonged period of enlargement allows local politicians to bide their time and continue to profit from current institutional arrangements while they blame the EU for their lack of progress are just a few examples. These and many other issues require that we tinker with the conditionality tool to help bring it back to life, or find new tools and incentive structures that will help to bring the countries of the Western Balkans back on to the path toward the EU.


9:45 a.m. Registration/Coffee

10:00 a.m. Meeting begins

  • Welcome and Introduction by Othon Anastasakis, Richard Caplan and Nida Gelazis
  • Discussion questions:
  1. How has EU conditionality changed vis-à-vis the Western Balkans?
  2. How do the countries of the Western Balkans differ in terms of how well conditionality works?
  3. What factors seem to influence success and failure?
  4. What has been done to change negative dynamics already from the EU perspective?
  5. What has the U.S. contributed to or observed about this process?

Introduction to the topic: Pierre Mirel and Zia Syed

11:30 a.m. Coffee Break

11:45 a.m. Discussion resumes

  • Discussion questions:
  1. How is EU conditionality viewed from the Western Balkans?

Introduction to the topic: Damir Tokic and Ioannis Armakolas

1:15 p.m. Lunch

2:30 p.m. Discussion resumes

  • Discussion questions:
  1. What can be done to reinforce EU conditionality?

Introduction to the topic: Alexandra Stiglmayer


Franz-Lothar Altman

Bucharest State University


Othon Anastasakis
SEESOX, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford


Ioannis Armakolas
Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)


Dimitar Bechev
European Council on Foreign Relations


Ina Breuer

Project on Justice in Times of Transition



Richard Caplan
Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford

Fikret Causevic

SEESOX/Alpha Bank Fellow

St Antony’s College, University of Oxford

Benjamin Crampton

Office of the High Representative for CSDP, Belgrade


Marianne Ducasse-Rogier
Netherlands Institute of International Relations/ Clingendael


Nida Gelazis
European Studies Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Michael Haltzel

School of Advanced International Studies,

Johns Hopkins University


Robert Harris

University of Oxford

Michael Henning
Center for Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, US Agency for International Development

James Ker-Lindsay
London School of Economics and Political Science

Iain King

UK Stabilisation Unit

Whit Mason
Hellesponte Consultants and Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford


Pierre Mirel

DG Enlargement, European Commission


Kalypso Nicolaidis
Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford


James O’Brien
Albright Stonebridge Group

Kerem Oktem


St Antony’s College, University of Oxford


Valery Perry

Public International Law and Policy Group, Sarajevo


Dusan Reljic
German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin


Elizabeth Rioberts

Dean of Studies, Weidenfeld Centre;

Trinity College, University of Oxford


Zia Syed

US Mission to the EU, Department of State


Alexandra Stiglmayer

European Stability Initiative


Damir Tokic
International Development Specialist


Axel Sotiris Wallden

European Commission

Dominic Zaum

School of Politics & International Relations, University of Reading