East Sights on the West Side

Article published on June 19, 2011
Article published on June 19, 2011
Imagine that you are responsible for taking an important decision that will change the life of thousands of people. Imagine that you are not alone in taking this decision. There are 26 fellows that should have exactly the same opinion on the topic you have to decide. Now, imagine that you have promised something not that long ago and it is hard to take a step back.

The conference "East Sights on the West Side", organized by Cafe Babel Sofia, put on the table the debate for the future enlargement of the European Union. The aim was to gather as many different points of view as Cafe Babel could. This debate was part of the Orient Express Reporter project of Cafebabel, co-funded by the European Union and in partnership with Allianz Kulturstiftung and Fondation Hippocrène.

And we did it. Around the table there were a head of unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, well-known sociologist, director of a NGO with specific focus on enlargement, researcher and practitioner in the region. Each of them presented the topic of enlargement from a different perspective.

"What we want is a fully integrated region. Provided that they fulfill the EU criteria for accession." said Emilia Kraleva, Head of Unit at theMinistry of Foreign Affairs. She paid attention to the practical side of becoming a EU member state - the long way of the negotiation process.

"We are on the point where the referendum in Croatia on their accession might be negative. On the other hand, the EU is ready to accept them" added Jean-Arnault Dérens, Director of the Courrier des Balkans. He analyzed the complexity of the topic - the reality is not black and white and the enlargement is not one-way street.

Dragomir Yordanov is Director of the National Institute of Justice. Based on his two years experience as a judge in Kosovo, He explained how hard is application of the law in the newly state in Europe. He pointed that the reform of the judicial system could take time but it is a vital process for the citizens and for the state itself.

Francesco Martino is an Italian working as journalist in Bulgaria for the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso. He wants the enlargement to become a reality but at the same time he is afraid that the European Union institutions took restrictive measures for the Western Balkan countries. Double standard said he and explains how important is for the young people in those countries to have visa liberalization so they could travel freely.

Antonyi Galabov was the last to speak drawing a parallel between the EU and previously existed unions. He underlined that the unions themselves are not good or bad but when building a union one should take into account the specifics of every state. Specifics hidden in their history, past and future.

By the end of the debate, Cafe Babel Bulgaria had nothing more to add. We think that we should speak about the enlargement so to make it happen. We were proud to host the discussion in the beginning of the summer even realizing that in the middle of the student’s term we probably won’t get much of attention. This time. Because we will keep on trying to rise the voice on this important topic. Next step. Enlargement. Future.

Hristiana Grozdanova

Cafe Babel Sofia

Hristiana@gmail.com