At the panel discussion titled “The future of NATO and EU integration of the Western Balkans: Is there still a role for the U.S.?”, Moore noted that the Union represents “a carrot” for regional countries that ensures that they carry out necessary reforms, adding that it is only up to governments of these states to decide at which pace they will conduct them.
Moore underlined the importance of the fight against organized crime and corruption in all countries of South-East Europe.
Haki Abazi, program director for the Western Balkans at the New York-based Rockfeller Brothers Fund, took a very critical stance concerning the progress of regional countries, saying that the Balkans is now at a critical crossroads as far as its further EU integration is concerned.
According to Abazi, organized crime poses the biggest danger to the Balkans.
Albanian criminals from the south of Kosovo cooperate with Serb criminals from the north and they all want to keep the status quo. By smashing ballot boxes in (northern Kosovska) Mitrovica (during the first round of local elections on November 3), a group of gangsters showed that they are stronger than the governments of Kosovo and Serbia, EULEX and KFOR, Abazi said.
He was especially critical of the international community and their forces in Kosovo, noting that they are giving false promises to Kosovo concerning its advance in the EU integration process, and that EULEX has no capacity for confronting major leaders in Kosovo.
Analyst Kurt Bassuener said that the role of the U.S. remains of the greatest importance for the region, voicing opinion that the recognition of Kosovo’s independence should be a requirement for Serbia’s further progress in the EU integration process.