The Western Balkan should commit itself to the West and democracy, the participants concluded in the Online Discussion which was organized by the Atlantic Council of Montenegro.

The participants in the panel discussion on the topic 2021 NATO Summit- Outcomes and implications for the Western Balkans were Vice President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro Ranko Krivokapic, former President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Director of the Europe Center within the US Atlantic Council Benjamin Haddad, former Permanent Representative of Italy to NATO and the Brussels Director of Project Associates Stefano Stefanini. The panel discussion was moderated by President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro Savo Kentera.

Vice President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro Ranko Krivokapic notes that the US President’s statement that America is back is particularly important for the Western Balkan. Krivokapic highlights that in the last four years Russia’s and China’s presence has been strong not only in the Western Balkan but in the rest of Europe as well. He adds that Biden’s activities undertaken so far, especially his executive order from June 8, have shown that he and his administration are completely aware of what is going on in the Balkans. Commenting on the current situation in Montenegro, the former President of the Montenegrin Parliament says that Montenegro was thought to be the example of stability in the Western Balkan, whereas today it has turned into something completely different.

The former President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic highlights that the geopolitical situation in the world, including the Western Balkan, has significantly changed. The era dominated by the US was followed by the new rivalry among the four players- the US, the EU, Russia, and China, she says. In her opinion, in a situation like that, it is necessary to create a new strategy adapted to the emerging circumstances and challenges. When it comes to the Western Balkans, the majority of the population of the Western Balkan countries perceive NATO and the EU as the right choice, the former President of Croatia said.

Director of the Europe Center within the US Atlantic Council Benjamin Haddad highlights that  Biden’s administration has shown a new level of commitment to transatlantic relationships. According to him, it cannot be expected for the trust between the US and the EU that had been destroyed during the previous period to be restored overnight. However, he is encouraged by the fact that Biden’s administration, even when focused on the internal issues of the US, always takes into account the international factors. He also comments on the US-Russia relationship. He believes that since the US administration expects no major shifts regarding the relationships with Russia, its goal is to stabilize their mutual relationships and make them predictable.

Former Permanent Representative of Italy to NATO and the Brussels Director of Project Associates Stefano Stefanini says that after the Summit, NATO knows exactly in which direction to go. Regarding the Western Balkan, he believes that this region is no longer at the center of NATO’s attention. However, the reasons behind that, in his opinion, are the success of NATO in that region and the fact that only two Western Balkan countries are not NATO members.

This is the first out of five online discussions organized by the Atlantic Council of Montenegro within the project 2BS Forum 365. This project is supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy (of the German Marshall Fund) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The complete online discussion is available on our website, the official Facebook Page, and our YouTube channel as well.