26-28.04.2019 EU and Regional Cooperation

One of activities of the EULEAD project was participation in the weekend workshop organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Zagreb. The workshop is designed for young social democrats and takes place in the framework of a year-long education on different topics such as economy, social welfare, media training. The April workshop focused on the European Union, Croatian foreign policy, and the situation in the region of the Western Balkans. Discussing European values in Croatia and supporting efforts in Croatia to frame its own policies towards neighbours in a broader European Union’s approach to the Western Balkan region is one of the goals of EULEAD, which was addressed through panel discussions and scenario group exercises in this workshop.

Senada Šelo Šabić, EULEAD project leader, moderated a panel Main Challenges for the European Union at which two speakers gave straightforward, open and stark comments on challenges that the EU faces at the moment. The speakers were Winfried Veit from the University of Freiburg and Daniel Mondekar, currently a consultant of EURO Navigator and former chairman of the European Affairs Committee at the Croatian Parliament.

Senada Šelo Šabić also chaired the following panel – Croatian Foreign Policy with Special Reflection on Neighbouring Countries. Speakers were Dejan Jović from the University of Zagreb and Milivoj Bešlin from the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade. The speakers were frank and quite critical of Croatian foreign policy approach to its neighbours. Jović spoke more broadly about the need for a more focused and Europeanized Croatian foreign policy, as well as about the need that Croatia refrains from pursuing nationalistic policies towards its neighbours. Bešlin was also very critical of Serbia foreign policy and the role of its President Vučić.

The second part of the workshop was reserved for group work and direct engagement of participants in discussing topics on open bilateral issues that Croatia has with its neighbours. Three scenarios describing in detail each case were prepared by Senada Šelo Šabić. As the basis for discussion Šelo Šabić also prepared a fact sheet on the status of each country in the Western Balkans in terms of its advancement to the EU membership, as well as some other necessary statistical data such as the level of FDI, NATO membership, etc.

The three case studies on open bilateral issues were border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia, the issue of construction of the Pelješac bridge between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and the issue of universal jurisdiction between Croatia and Serbia.

The participants were separated into three groups each assigned with one topic. They engaged in dynamic discussion and made a presentation of their main conclusions/observations, inviting then questions from other groups. The exercise allowed young future politicians and activists to learn about particular topics, advance their analytical skills and improve presentation skills.