Interview with Michal Vit, Research Fellow at the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, a non-proﬁt, non-partisan, and independent think-tank focusing on European integration and cohesion.
European Western Balkans: The Visegrád Four had a successful cooperation during the pre-accession period, both within the CEFTA framework and the V4 informal exchange of views. The Western Balkan countries have tried to follow suit, yet their cooperation has been obstructed by numerous bilateral issues. To what extent does the regional cooperation facilitate the accession processes of WB6, how can a divided region such as the Western Balkans enhance the regional cooperation and what are the other matters, with the exception of the already fostered economic cooperation, to be gathered around?
Michal Vit: The biggest problem is what motivates the countries to cooperate.
We cannot copy the Visegrad cooperation and apply it to the Western Balkans. For instance, Croatia, which is the entry market for the EU, is not really willing to assist the Western Balkan countries on their path to the EU and is not even facilitating the market cooperation between the countries.
An impression is created that there is a lack of drivers which cooperation and the integration should be based on. In addition, they are more dominated by politics and not by a more natural exchange that is running independently on the political narrative.
In this sense, we have to go back and go beyond this classical approach what the European integration should be about and we should ask what those drivers are – are they something independent on the political cooperation or it is something that is very closely tied to the politics that is shaping all elements of public life in the Western Balkans.