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    • BSF calls for rebuilding rule of law as a cornerstone of stability in Europe

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    • Date: 13 October 2017

      The 7th BSF identified as the main crises in Europe erosion of democracy and rule of law. Deepening and rapidly increasing inequalities left many people behind feeling that they do not share same space with political, economic and intelectual elites in their country. This is a fruitful ground for populist politians and movements who govern by fear of others.

      The others in the EU are migrants, while in the Western Balkans the others are neighbouring nations and opposition. Populists govern not only by exclusionary rhetoric, but also an action. They capture state resources with two purposes; first, to deliver some public goods to their constituencies, and second, more importantly, to lock their power by removing checks and balances and media scrutiny.

      This exclusion of different perspectives and minorities by legal means is rapidly growing within the EU and it prevents EU of excersing influence in the neighbourhood as it is losing credibility. The   divisions within states perpetuate divisions among states in the Europe.

      BSF calls EU member states to take leadership and re-build rule of law as a cornerstone of European identity. The participants of BSF also recognised the responsibility of national pro-democracy actors both in the EU and in the Western Balkans to engage more at grass-root level with those in favour of democracy and peace and to mobilise an untapped potential of youth and women.

      The Western Balkans are currently periphery of EU and the region seem to be relevant for EU decision-makers only when there is a perception of external influence and internal instability. Berlin Process incentivesed the process of accession by providing perspective of economic development through regional inter-conectedness, but it did not manage yet to increase accountability of Balkan politicans for implementation of agreements made. In the next phase of process, monitoring of commitments needs to be strengthened and tangible benefits for citizens should be delivered. The key for progress of the Western Balkans does not lay in the hands of EU elites but regional ones.

      The initiatives for action should be taken by the Western Balkan people and nations. Instead of waiting for EU to mediate bilateral disputes, we need responsible leadership by politicians and civil society in each of nations to seek dialogue and resolution in consistent way instead of competing in shifting blame. The Western Balkans should also seek its place in the discussions on Future of Europe without voting right, so to be able to prepare for the changed EU that we will join.

      All of these solutions require that we discuss uncertainties without fear, in an open debate and involving as diverse views as possible. 7th BSF under the title Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty gathered more than 120 speakers and 700 participants from 35 countries, as well as 250 journalists from Serbian, regional and international media.

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