A professor from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) whose intimate knowledge of the complex modern history of the Western Balkans saw him called to a House of Lords inquiry has spoken about the ‘tremendous’ experience he had as a Parliamentary Specialist Adviser.
Kenneth Morrison, Professor of Modern Southeast European History at DMU, was appointed as Specialist Adviser for the House of Lords International Select Committee for their ‘Beyond Brexit: The UK and the Western Balkans’ inquiry.
Professor Morrison’s specific role was to listen to all the evidence that the committee heard, help them get to grips with the history and to convey the complexities of contemporary domestic political forces at work in the Western Balkan states.
The Select Committee’s report was published this week and concluded that, post-Brexit, the UK must continue to support countries of the Western Balkans and continue to champion their accession to EU membership. The findings have been reported widely in the national media.
DMU academic publishes book about landmark 'war hotel'
Find out what DMU's history courses have to offer
Book a place at our next Open Day
During the hearings Professor Morrison heard evidence from 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
Professor Morrison also travelled 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.
Professor Morrison said: “It was a pleasure working with the International Relations Committee. The discussions were always robust and always constructive.
“My role as Specialist Adviser meant that I was consulted by the Committee on myriad issues pertaining to the history and politics of the Western Balkans, attend all of the evidence gathering sessions, travel with the Committee to the region, as well as read and comment on written evidence and comment on various drafts of the report.
“The final report is the culmination of trips by the Committee to Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, as well as months of evidence gathering sessions and extensive written submissions. This collective evidence was used to underpin the report, which sets out a vision of how the UK can continue to engage positively in the region post-Brexit.
“It was a tremendous opportunity and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a great deal and have relished the opportunity to engage in discussions with the Committee, all of whom have incredible knowledge and experience in politics and diplomacy.
“I was also hugely impressed by the intelligence, diligence and efficiency of the clerks. And though the surroundings were somewhat intimidating at first, I came to enjoy spending time in the wonderful Palace of Westminster. Indeed, I’ll miss it very much.”
Kenneth is the author of four books and numerous chapters, articles and reports on the Balkans. His latest book Nationalism, Statehood and Identity in Post-Yugoslav Montenegro was published by Bloomsbury late last year.
Now, it’s back to academic life for Kenneth. He continues to teach the popular third year ‘Yugoslavia and Beyond’ course at DMU and is now embarking on the writing of his fifth book with the highly-regarded photojournalist, Paul Lowe.
Posted on Friday 12th January 2018