On March 24th, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and the Balkan Trust for Democracy launched the Belgrade chapter of GMF’s Young Transatlantic Network, hosting new U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott for a off-the-record discussion on the role of the Balkans on the transatlantic agenda. With waves of the refugees and asylum-seekers trekking across these countries to cross the borders of the European Union, Europe’s attention has been refocused on its southern neighbors. The countries of the Western Balkans have all set their sights on EU membership, despite growing Russian influence, heightened concerns over recruitment by the self-proclaimed Islamic State group, and recent democratic backsliding due to populist regimes. Therefore, the transatlantic community’s role in engaging the Balkan countries in carrying out sustainable, meaningful reforms to further their goals of Euroatlantic integration is key.
Given his distinguished diplomatic career and in-depth regional knowledge, Ambassador Scott addressed these and other issues ranging from Serbian domestic and foreign policy, local civil society, and regional politics to private business and access to markets, U.S. relations with Cuba, and the upcoming U.S. elections. This conversation was moderated by Kelsey Guyette, BTD’s Program Coordinator, with an introduction by BTD Program Assistant Aleksandra Obradovic,. The event was attended by representatives from the diplomatic, think tank, academic, government, private, and media sectors.
The Young Transatlantic Network (YTN) is a flagship initiative of GMF specifically geared toward young professionals 35 years old and younger. The network aims to strengthen transatlantic relations by offering the next generation of leaders opportunities to critically engage on core challenges facing Europe and the United States, as well as new issues posed by the increasing geographic reach of transatlantic cooperation. GMF currently has YTN chapters in Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Warsaw, and Washington, DC. The Belgrade chapter is the first of GMF’s YTN chapters to cover an entire region. As such, the Belgrade chapter plans to host events throughout the six countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.