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20 years after Thessaloniki: Can The EU rediscover the Western Balkans?

30  June 2023    9:00 am CEST

Study presentation and panel discussion

In cooperation with:


Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB), Strauchgasse 3, 1010 Vienna


The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw) and Bertelsmann Stiftung will provide an insight into the EU’s economic ties with the Western Balkans by presenting a new study and discuss, together with a distinguished panel of diplomats and experts, a new EU approach towards the region.

Preliminary agenda

09:00–09:30 Welcome and Introduction by
Mario Holzer, Director, wiiw, and
Stefani Weiss, Senior Expert, Bertelsmann Stiftung
followed by

Opening Speech “The European Perspective: Keeping the Western Balkans on the Agenda”
by H.E. Alexander Schallenberg, Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs

09:30-10:30  Presentation of Study Keeping friends closer: Why the EU should address new geoeconomic realities and get its neighbours back in the fold” with special focus on the EU´s interconnectivity with the Western Balkans
by Branimir Jovanovic, wiiw

Moderated by Stefani Weiss

10:30 Coffee Break

11:00-12:30 Panel Discussion “Thessaloniki revisited 20 years on: Time for a radically new EU approach to the Western Balkans?” with

  • Kadir Bahcecik, Head of Unit for Enlargement Countries, European Investment Bank, Luxembourg
  • Odeta Barbullushi, Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania and National Coordinator for Regional Economic Area
  • Simonida Kacarska, Director of the European Policy Institute, Skopje
  • Velina Tchakarova, Founder, FACE for a Conscious Experience e.U 
  • Romana Vlahutin, Ambassador, Distinguished Fellow for Geostrategy, German Marshall Fund, Berlin

Moderated by Hannes Swoboda, President, wiiw

We are looking forward to seeing you there!