With the aim of promoting knowledge and understanding of European Union (EU) integration, Ms. Aurelie Valtat, the Head of Section "European Integration, Political, Press and Information" at the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, visited the International University of Sarajevo on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. Her visit was part of the Shuttle Diplomacy Talks organized by the IUS Balkan Studies Centre (BSC).
The visit commenced with a brief meeting with IUS Rector, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Yıldırım, the Director of BSC, Dr. Hamza Preljević, and University Communications Office Manager, Ms. Velida Handžić-Mirica. This meeting set the stage for an enlightening lecture that Ms. Valtat delivered to IUS students, focusing on the topic of "EU Enlargement over the Decades: Lessons Learnt for BiH's Accession Path."
Ms. Valtat's informative presentation provided valuable insights into the historical context of EU enlargement and its relevance to Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession process. She began by offering a brief overview of the EU's past enlargement efforts, raising questions about whether the EU project remains the same after 65 years of evolution. This perspective encouraged students to reflect on the continuous evolution of the EU and the changing dynamics of European integration.
The lecture also shed light on the current enlargement perspectives and what they mean for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ms. Valtat discussed the key phases of EU integration, highlighting both the benefits and drawbacks of the enlargement process. One of the key takeaways from Ms. Valtat's presentation was the assertion that the enlargement process had experienced a stall since 2013. However, 2022 marked a significant turning point with Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia (conditionally), and Bosnia and Herzegovina all receiving candidacy status. This development signified renewed momentum in the EU's enlargement efforts, sparking optimism for the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries.
Ms. Valtat also emphasized that the current political talks within the EU are aimed at finding ways to integrate Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries more rapidly. Additionally, the EU is actively working on a new Growth Plan, indicating a commitment to fostering economic development and stability in these regions.
The eagerly awaited enlargement package from the European Commission, scheduled for release on November 8, 2023 is expected to provide crucial insights into the roadmap for the next wave of EU enlargement, further shaping the future of EU-BiH relations.
The lecture concluded with an engaging and comprehensive Q&A session, allowing students to question the intricacies of EU integration and enlargement. Ms. Valtat's visit and presentation served as an essential opportunity for students to gain firsthand knowledge and perspectives on this critical aspect of European politics.