Civil Society Forum Trieste – Day 2

Policy Discussion; Photo: European Union

Report from the Day 2 of the Trieste Civil Society Forum on 12 July.

Policy Discussion (in the framework of the Western Balkans Summit)

The final event of the Trieste Civil Society Forum and the culmination of the work of civil society representatives was the Policy Discussion, organized in the Trieste City Hall. It was there that civil society representatives had the opportunity to present their recommendations to ministers of foreign affairs of Western Balkans states and the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn. Taking part in the meeting were also Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia, Srđan Darmanović, Miister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, Enver Hoxhaj, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ditmir Bushati, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, as well as Angelino Alfano, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy. Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, Florian Bieber from the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), Shpend Emini, Executive Director of the Democracy for Development (D4D), Remzi Lani, Director of the Albanian Media Institute and Nataša Kandić from RECOM took part as representatives of the civil society. The event was moderated by Sonja Licht from the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence.

As part of the Berlin Process, this meeting was the opportunity for the civil society organisations to present policy recommendations and influence the decisions to be adopted by the intergovernmental Summit of the Western Balkans and the EU countries. It was concluded that the further dialogue between the civil society and the decision-makers is necessary, as a condition for sustainable regional cooperation and “Europeanisation” of the region.

Policy recommendations on six topics were presented to the officials from the European Union and the Western Balkans – regional cooperation and bilateral relations, rule of law and fight against corruption, youth cooperation, improvement of business climate for innovative enterprises, environment and climate change, and more efficient communications of the Berlin process. It was pointed out that mobility within the region and with the EU should be increased by abolishing visa regime. Additionally, it was said that civil society should have more influence over content of the European Commission reports, better benchmarking system and increased participation in the monitoring and evaluation of the rule law. Also, the civil society representatives asked the Western Balkans officials to reaffirm their commitment to work together in the spirit of the Vienna Declaration and to abstain from misusing outstanding bilateral issues in the EU accession process.

Regarding the meeting, Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, which coordinated the Civil Society Forum, said: “We discussed the policy recommendations with our interlocutors and achieved high level of mutual understanding”. She emphasised that Civil Society Forum will continue to instigate participation of the civil society in decision-making process in the framework of the Berlin Process in order to support the accomplishment of its ultimate goals. Commissioner Hahn supported Civil Society Forum recommendations: “I support these recommendations, but the challenge is to implement them and to establish more intensive exchange between civil society and governments.”

Recording of special edition of “Vicinities” TV Show

At the same time as the Policy Discussion, a special edition of “Vicinities” TV show was recorded in Trieste. The guests in the show were Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, Zoran Zaev, the Prime Minister of Macedonia, Ivica Dačić, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, and Goran Svilanović, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council.

Participants discussed about the Berlin Process, regional affairs and European integration of the Western Balkans. The show will be aired at a later date.