- This event has passed.
In their ongoing joint series Worldwide Pandemic, European Responses, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union and the Green European Foundation cordially invite you to their upcoming online event:
The COVID-19 pandemic not only hit the Western Balkan countries in a period of reacceleration of economic activity and put enormous pressure on the already fragile health systems in place, but also had a negative impact on the state of democracy in the region. In response to the outbreak of the virus, some governments relapsed into authoritarian tendencies increasing censorships and restricting the free flow of information. Cases of arbitrary arrest, surveillance, phone tapping, privacy breaches and other digital rights violations during imposed emergency legislation have become an increasing concern.
Furthermore, many experts suggest that the crisis has seriously hampered the EU’s influence in the region. Even though it finally mobilised a financial package amounting to 3.3 billion Euro to fight Covid-19 and its impact in the Western Balkans, the EU’s image in those countries deteriorated due to the initial lack of solidarity and hesitant response towards its neighbours in South-East Europe. Other global players such as China and Russia have been fast in offering assistance and investment to increase their own influence in the region. Often, their economic support goes hand in hand with campaigns to foster alternative narratives and populist sentiments.
Hence, with their joint online event, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union and the Green European Foundation would like to address with the invited panellists what the latest developments amidst this crisis mean for the Western Balkans societies and what the implications for the region’s political future might be. What are the major impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Western Balkans? How have the governments in the region handled the crisis so far? And, is it necessary for the EU to change its approach to the Western Balkans as reluctant and desultory commitments in the accession process are wearing out the EU’s good image in the region?
- Lejla Gačanica, Independent legal counsel and researcher, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Liljana Popovska, former MP in the Macedonian Parliament and leader of Democratic Renewal of Macedonia (DOM), board member of the Green Institute, North Macedonia
- Andrej Petrovski, Director of Tech/CERT at SHARE Foundation, Serbia
Simon Ilse, Office Director, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Serbia, Montenegro & Kosovo
The event will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.