Faculty of Political Science Researchers have published a new working paper titled: “Old Wine in New Bottles? Good Governance, Misgovernance and Three Scenarios for the Future of Open Balkan-Berlin Process Relationship,” which is part of their work on the Mapping and Indexing Peace and Security in the Western Balkans project (MIND), financed by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia.

The research has been conducted within the Work Package 3 – Regional Security Initiatives.

Executive summary:

After the Albanian premier Edi Rama told in an interview in July 2023 that the Open
Balkan initiative (OBI) has served its purpose (European Western Balkans, 2023b),
many questions emerged regarding the character, goals and future scenarios for
the cooperation process that has sparked both regional enthusiasm and suspicion
between 2019 and 2023. The OBI started making its baby steps in the shoes of the
dormant Berlin Process (BP) in trying to work out mostly concrete and technical
cooperation seen as compatible with the wider goal of reaching the regional
market in the period of the disillusionment with the EU’s enlargement policy in the
region. Despite the mix of critiques, contestation and praise, some technical
achievements among Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania have been recorded.
However, the signs of the re-awakened EU commitment to the enlargement policy
in the Western Balkans have been spurred by the “geopolitical” turn following
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. These developments seem to have
put the OBI on the back burner, restoring the plans for the regional market and
wider cooperation under the banner of the BP.

What does this changing context mean for the future of regional cooperation and
integration in the Western Balkans? How can one envisage the scenarios for the
reorganization of the regional governance framework in the context of global
polycrises and momentous security and geopolitical turbulences in Europe and its
neighbouring regions? To address these questions, we propose the criteria for
assessing the relationship between the EU-initiated and locally-owned regional
cooperation initiatives. By combining insights from the literature on good
(enough) governance, we propose the three scenarios for conceptualizing the OBI-
BP relationship based on the criteria of transparency, scope, ownership,
sustainability and openness. Our recommendations seek ways to advance OBI/BP
governance structures and practices in those five good governance criteria.

You can read the full text of the working paper here: Marko Kovačević, Aleksandar Milošević, Tijana Rečević and Milan Varda. 2023. Old Wine in New Bottles? Good Governance, Misgovernance and Three Scenarios for the Future of Open Balkan-Berlin Process Relationship. MIND Project Publications. University of Belgrade – Faculty of Political Science.