House of Lords calls on Professor's Balkans expertise

A professor’s intimate knowledge of the complex modern history of the Western Balkans has seen him called to the House of Lords to advise Parliament on the shaping of Britain’s post-Brexit policies in the region.

Professor Kenneth Morrison from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been appointed as a Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Select Committee for their inquiry into British policy in the Western Balkans, which began in early September.

Kenneth Morrison Holiday Inn

DMU lecturer Kenneth Morrison

The committee has started hearing evidence about the evolving political, social, economic and geopolitical situation in the Western Balkans. Although the countries of the region aspire to European Union membership, they are still hampered by the legacy of the wars of Yugoslav disintegration in the 1990s.

“I was in Sarajevo in July when I was contacted about the possibility of taking the post, and though it came somewhat out of the blue, I was delighted to have been asked,” said Kenneth, who is a Professor of Modern Southeast European History at DMU.

“It's a prestigious role and I believe I am the first, though hopefully not the last, DMU academic to be appointed as a Specialist Advisor to a House of Lords Select Committee.

“As well as being a personal honour, it’s a recognition of DMU’s growing reputation for research excellence and a robust and ongoing commitment to it.”

Kenneth Morrison House of Lords committee

Watch a video of the International Relations Select Committee hearing evidence on September 13

Kenneth, who has worked at DMU since 2009, is the module leader for the popular third year course Yugoslavia and Beyond.

He has published four books about the Balkans and recently edited the memoirs of Lord Peter Carrington’s personal representative in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Colm Doyle. Kenneth will sit in on all the sessions at the House of Lords to advise the clerks and the committee as evidence is gathered and the report written.

Already, former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown, now Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, General Sir Michael Rose, the former Commander of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Ambassadors of Kosovo and Albania have given evidence and subsequent sessions will take place throughout October and November.

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Kenneth will also travel with the committee on fact-finding trips to Kosovo, Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, gathering evidence from senior politicians, leading figures from international organisations such as NATO and the EU, journalists, political analysts and representatives of the non-governmental sector. 

“In the light of Brexit - whatever form that eventually takes - the UK will need to re-calibrate its policies towards the region,” he explained.

“My specific role is to listen to all the evidence that the committee hears, to help them get to grips with the history and to convey the complexities of contemporary domestic political dynamics in the Western Balkan states and the broader current geopolitical situation.”

The scope of the inquiry, titled Beyond Brexit: the UK and the Balkans, includes assessing the current political situation in each of the Western Balkan states and looking at the impact on the region of Euro-Atlantic institutions, other international powers, such as China and Russia, plus the challenges and consequences for Britain in the post-Brexit era.

The Committee is due to publish its report in December.

Posted on Monday 2nd October 2017

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