Rome – ESI lecture on the “Balkans on the edge” at the NATO Defence College

13 June 2024
Gerald Knaus
Photo: ESI

ESI’s Gerald Knaus gave a lecture at the NATO Defense College on “The Balkans on the edge”, speaking about security challenges and opportunities in the Balkans, focusing on both historical and contemporary issues. 

He examined the unpredictable nature of conflict such as the Northern Ireland Troubles and recent tensions in Kosovo and emphasised the threat posed by Russia, reminding the audience of the destruction of the cities of Grozny in the second Chechen War in 2001 and Mariupol in 2022. 

Gerald called for more European engagement to prevent a new conflict between Serbia and Kosovo. He stressed the importance of reviving the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue and providing a clear EU integration path for both countries to counter Russian influence and reduce tensions. He warned that any conflict in the Balkans would destabilise the region and affect the EU and NATO.

Gerald also discussed the Balkans’ history, from the post-1990 descent into war, instigated by nationalist leaders like Slobodan Milosevic. He noted the importance of international justice in addressing past crimes and stressed the role of the EU in creating lasting peace through economic and political cooperation, despite the current stagnation in the enlargement process.

Gerald concluded by advocating for a renewed EU strategy that offers realistic goals and support to the Western Balkans, aiming to reduce instability and promote security through integration and economic cooperation.

Photo: NATO Defense College