The European Integration of Albania is not only a story of resilience, failures and challenges, but also a story of successes. However, it is not an easy and smooth path and it requires strong political will, public awareness, citizen engagement and preparedness of the entire society to fully embrace EU values and principles. We had two days of reflective, inspiring and critical discussions on the EU integration path of Albania and also implications of COVID19 to European integration of the Western Balkans. HE Luigi Soreca, Ambassador of EU Delegation to Albania, emphasised that “the crisis has not affected the EU integration of the region. On the contrary, it has demonstrated again the proximity and solidarity between European Union and WBs”.  Mr Ditmir Bushati, former Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, argued that “the water under the bridge is not the same. Therefore, we have to align reality with our minds”. Whereas renowned academics took a more critical perspective regarding the EU integration process and democratization of the counties in the Western Balkans. Prof. Florian Bieber, University of Graz and expert of BiPAG, argued that COVID19 has accelerated and made even more visible some existing trends in the region such as erratic behavior to the pandemic, misinformation, uncertainties, confusion & distrust. He also noted the blurring of the EU Integration and liberal democracy model. Whereas, Vedran Džihić, University of Vienna, argued that “we are facing a process of Europeanisation without democratization in the Western Balkans”.

If you missed the first panel of the conference: Post COVID 19’s implications to the European Integration of the Western Balkans, you can access the full video here.

 Video of Panel 2: Geopolitical Approach of the European Union to the Western Balkans can be found here.

 Video of Panel 3: Albania in the Western Balkans and the European Union: Past, Present and Future can be found here.

 Video of e-Roundtable: Discussing Future Collaborations in the Framework of Erasmus+ Projects can be found here.

 Center “Science and Innovation for Development” (SCiDEV) co-organized with the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tirana a virtual international conference on 11 – 12 June 2020. This was organised in the framework of the Jean Monnet Module “Resilience and European Integration of the Western Balkans” (2017-2020), co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission.