The fourth regional conference Move.Link.Engage. The Enlargement: A Brand Old Story was held at the Zira hotel in Belgrade on September 13 and 14, gathering more than 170 participants, representatives of the civil, public and business sectors. The conference was organized by the Belgrade Open School and the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of the Republic of Serbia with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden, the "Europe for Citizens" Program of the European Union, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Prior to the official opening of the conference, a closed workshop for the preparation of projects within the Program "Europe for Citizens" was held for about thirty representatives of civil society organizations from the region who, through the modified open-door method, presented and elaborated ideas for projects with which the CSO will apply in the next call within the Europe for Citizens Program.

The conference was opened by this year's moderator, Lazar Džamić, and the introductory speech was given by BOS' General Director Vesna Đukić, who emphasized the importance of mutual cooperation and networking of all sectors of society in the process of Serbia's integration into the EU and the 25-year commitment of BOS in this regard.

"This conference is an opportunity to find together the answers to questions that concern us all. That is why we are pleased to celebrate our 25 years with you," V. Đukić

The main theme of the conference was the question of the enlargement of the European Union to the countries of the Western Balkans as a "good old story". On this occasion, in introductory remarks, participants were also addressed by officials like H. E. Jan Lundin, Swedish Ambassador to Belgrade, and Mateja Norčič Štamcar, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to R. Serbia.

"There will be connectivity (in the region) and we are working on it. It does not go as fast as we wanted. We want Serbia in the EU, I do not know when it will be, but it certainly will happen and there is a lot to be done. We are grateful to BOS because you are the organization that is for it," J. Lundin

"Enlargement policy is one of the most successful European Union policies. This process is one of the most beneficial for citizens," M. Norčič Štamcar

"Civil society plays an important role in the process of European integration, it is the main partner of the Government in this process, which is a part of the criteria for the accession. I am convinced that it is precisely the development of a strong partnership that represents a proper approach in seeking answers to different challenges in our country," Ž. Stepanović

At the end of the first day, the participants had the opportunity to hear the speeches of four experts in the four main themes of the conference, which opened the questions for sessions during the second day of the conference - issues of improving employability, the future of European integration in Serbia and the role of civil society in it, the rule of law.

The second day of the conference began with the plenary session "Civil Society as a Force for Change in the EU Accession Process", where speakers like Nikola Marković, journalists and project coordinators of the "South News" portal, Ola Andersson, advisor at the Swedish embassy in Belgrade, and Dragomir Pop-Mitić, Chairman of the Board of the Užice Center for Human Rights and Democracy, discussed the role and challenges of civil society in participating in the process of Serbia's integration into the EU.

"Civil society plays a major role in the reform process. Its indispensable role is reflected in three aspects: raising the awareness of citizens, involving citizens in this process, as well as monitoring the reform process itself," O. Andersson

The block of parallel sessions that followed the issue of connecting the countries of the Western Balkan region as a possible alternative to EU enlargement, as well as improving the employability of youth and dual education in Serbia. These panels brought together speakers such as Tanja Miščević, Head of Negotiation Team for EU Accession Negotiations, Malinka Ristevska Jordanova, Member of the Managing Board of the European Institute for European Policy "Skoplje", Natalija Pešić, Head of the HR official "VIP Mobile" and Jovan Protić, National Coordinator for Serbia, International Labor Organization.

"The expansion strategy is still in focus, but what we have today is a credible perspective," T. Miščević

"For us as employers, although it looks like a big investment, a great investment of time, working practices means you get a satisfied person," N. Pešić

Within the second block of parallel sessions, discussions on the topics of energy policy at the national and local levels and additional conditions are being re-established for the countries of the Western Balkans in this area. In addition, the topic of the rule of law and the "fundamentals first" approach was discussed, the importance of which is emphasized by the European Commission. Some of the speakers at these panels were Martine Quinnfrom the European Commission's DG for Justice and Consumers, Marina Škrabalo, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee, Dejan Lasica, SEETO's General Manager, and Aleksandar Macura, Program Director of the RES Foundation.

"Systemic changes in the rule of law can unravel the current behavior of political elites. It is good that the issue of the rule of law and human rights is politicized. This is a sign that they are no longer a secondary topic," M. Škrabalo

"Through the Network of Good Energy, we want to send an average citizen a message that he has to become a part of politics. "Top-down" policy in the field of energy cannot produce results," A. Macura

Milorad Bjeletic, the Executive Director of BOS, had the final speech at the conference and pointed out that the conference was only one of the activities that BOS is implementing in order to discuss the topics of EU integration. He concluded with emphasising some of the most important achievements of the Belgrade Open School and announced the celebration of this 25th anniversary, which will be held on November 7, 2018, in the Stadion Hall in Belgrade.