The sixth International Youth Conference “European values for the future of Southeast Europe” – 2008 was held in Krusevo, inspired by the vision of the young people , to bring together youth from around the region to learn from the experiences of those who had successfully taken action for youth actions for contribution in the process of EU integration of SEE. The concept of the conference was developed in order to offer practical ideas and encouragement to these youth who want to use their work as change-makers addressing social issues in their countries and the region. Young people, participants of the conference concluded: “Young people are a powerful resource for development of the region, offering enthusiasm, a diverse set of perspectives, and a wealth of ideas for programs and projects which are dedicated to EU integration of the region”.
Continued EU enlargement with South-eastern Europe is not only a challenge, but also a confirmed EU commitment. Accession of the region has already started with the entry of Bulgaria and Romania. The accession of these two countries could be a completion of the previous or as the beginning of the next enlargement. An institutional framework for continued enlargement does not exist, but this question has been brought back onto the EU agenda during the German presidency, with the time frame envisaged to solve it by the end of 2008. As the sixth enlargement started by opening negotiations with Croatia and Turkey and some commitments have already been undertaken towards the remaining SEE countries, it could be expected that the process of solving the EU’s institutional issues will go parallel with further widening. It is not the first time that deepening and widening must proceed in parallel, thus trying to find the right balance between these two processes, as well as between homogeneity and heterogeneity of the EU. It is evident that the process of integrating the region into the EU will be more difficult and time consuming for the region expected. Nevertheless, countries aspiring to become EU members have to work on the development of mutual, good-neighbourly relations among themselves. Regional co-operation is a precondition for a successful integration into the EU, due to many reasons. It is a key factor in achieving political stability, security and economic development in the region. At the same time, regional cooperation is an area of immediate concern for the EU itself. This was the case in the previous enlargement, but it is even more important for the countries of South-eastern Europe, in the new situation created after the EU accession of Bulgaria and Romania. As the EU borders have been moved towards the Black Sea, the Western Balkans has become the EU’s closest neighbour, surrounded by EU member-states on all sides. The traditionally understood “East” in European relations, became “West” for South-eastern Europe. This will have a strong impact on both the countries of the region and the EU and constitutes a challenge for their future functioning.
18th till 22nd of September 2008
Krusevo, Republic of North Macedonia
Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe sponsored by Germany