Western Balkans Regional

IRI’s Western Balkans regional program focuses on countering malign foreign influence and extremism, including extreme ethnonationalism and the rise of the far right, in the region. Since its inception in 2016, the Task Force has developed into a key forum for regional discussions among pro-democratic actors and policy makers who seek to improve the region’s democratic future.

Speakers on stage from IRI's Southeastern Europe Democracy Summit

The program brings together decision makers and thought leaders from five countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia), as well as members of IRI’s Western Balkans Task Force, which include government officials, scholars, and journalists. Together, the Task Force provides research, offers policy ideas, and implements policy recommendations that aim to counter malign foreign influence, extreme ethnonationalism, far right movements, and supports the region’s Euro-Atlantic path.

IRI’s annual Southeastern Europe Democracy Summit (SEE|DEM), the program’s flagship event, provides a multi-day regional forum to government and non-governmental leaders, who discuss key challenges and issues pertinent to the region’s democratic development.

The Western Balkans program also seeks to reach the broader public through both digital and traditional media, in hopes of raising citizen awareness of both extreme ethnonationalism and malign foreign influence. IRI’s public opinion polling under this program provides objective data on regional trends and key issues to Task Force members, decision makers, and party members to allow them to better act against threats to the region. Previous polls in this program were widely shared and quoted in the media, including the Financial Times, and used by the European Parliament.

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