ESI conference in Paris - Communicating Europe

16 April 2008

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ESI senior analyst Kristof Bender on French debates on enlargement. © ESI

As part of ESI's new Communicating Europe project, leading figures from South East Europe working on issues of European integration met in Paris from 16 to 17 April to discuss French perspectives on EU enlargement. The participants were senior Western Balkan officials, MPs and journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Macedonia. Speakers from French politics, media and civil society presented a picture of France's perspective on the Western Balkans and on the future of enlargement.

This conference was funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). The agenda was drawn up with the support of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). The conference was the third in an initial series of four events; conferences have also been held in Vienna, Berlin and Rome. The aim of the Communicating Europe project is to familiarise the participants with the national debates on Europe and the future of enlargement.

The conference started with presentations by current and former senior advisers from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and by leading figures from French media. The sessions explored the new French approaches to enlargement first announced by State Secretary, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, in January 2008.

The British Ambassador to France, Sir Peter Westmacott, hosted a working dinner for participants at his Residence. It was also attended by the ambassadors of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro and by Pascale Andréani, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

The following day, representatives of influential think tanks examined the French policy debate on the Western Balkan countries. Gordana Djurović, the Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, from Montenegro spoke, on the record, about her country's planning for its EU Candidacy application. The discussion also engaged the other senior Western Balkan officials including; Osman Topčagić (Director for European Integration, BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Darija Ramljak (Assistant Director for European Integration, BiH), Arben Kashahu (Secretary General of the Ministry of European Integration, Albania), Neven Pelicarić (Assistant Minister at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Croatia), Tanja Miščević (Director of the Serbian European Integration Office), Milica Delević (Assistant Foreign Minister of Serbia), and Agnesa Rusi (EU Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Macedonia).

The speakers from Paris included; Denis Simonneau (Chief of Cabinet for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Daniel Vernet (Director of the international relations section of Le Monde), Arnaud Danjean (adviser to the previous Foreign Ministers, now Lecturer at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques), Jacques Rupnik (Research Director at Centre d'Études et de Recherches Internationals, CERI), François Heisbourg (Chaiman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS), Ben Hall ( a Paris Correspondent of the Financial Times), Jérôme Bédier (President of the French Federation of Trade and Distribution, FECD), Nadège Ragaru (Research Fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS).

The Adriatic push for enlargement - video interviews with

Gordana Djurovic (Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Montenegro),
Neven Pelicarić (Assistant Foreign Minister, Croatia),
Osman Topčagić (Director of the Directorate for European Integration, Bosnia),
Tanja Miščević (Director of the Serbian European Integration Office, Serbia)

on how their countries prepare for EU accession

Arnaud Donjean and Kristof Bender
Arnaud Donjean and Kristof Bender
Gerald Knaus and Gordana Djurović
Gerald Knaus and Gordana Djurović