Representatives of the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” (IDSCS) and the SEE Think Net Network gave their inputs and policy recommendations on topics that derive from the Berlin Process at the Think Tank Forum as well as on the Civil Society Forum within the Western Balkans Summit in Poznan (3 – 5 July).
The SEE Think Net Network also promoted two policy papers at the second edition of the Think Tank Forum ‘Western Balkans and the Berlin Process – Current achievements, future goals’ held in Poznan on July 3rd, organized by The Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) from Poland.
The first Think Tank Forum took place on 13-14 of May in Skopje. IDSCS and OSW in collaboration with the Poland MFA organised a conference entitled, ‘Reinforcing the European Integration of the Western Balkans – Learning from the Past, Preparing for the Future’. This format of experts’ meetings from the Western Balkans and the EU member states participating in the Berlin process was initiated for the first time during the Polish presidency of the Berlin process.
Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and the Government Plenipotentiary for the Western Balkans Summit, who formally opened the Forum, said that the recommendations from the SEE Think NET, coordinated by the IDSCS were very important ahead of the Summit.
“We initiated Think Tank Forums meeting to give expert community more institutionalized role in the Berlin Process. We would like to thank all of you who provided recommendation ahead of the Summit. Especially Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans and SEE Think Net coordinated by the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” from Skopje who provided papers evaluating current achievements and recommendation for the future cooperation in the framework of Berlin Process. We highly appreciate intensive cooperation of the Western Balkans expert community. Along with our partner from the Visegrad Group with support of International Visegrad Fund we would like to introduce instrument to support cooperation of the Western Balkans Think Tanks called ThinkBalkans modelled on the Think Visegrad – V4 Think Tank Platform of cooperation to strength people-to-people links between analytical institutions and NGOs from the V4 and the Western Balkans”, said Szynkowski vel Sęk.
Zoran Nechev, Senior Researcher at IDSCS and coordinator of SEE Think Net, was moderating the last panel of the Think Tank Forum “Challenges ahead” on the enlargement policy, its limitation and new ideas on how to make it more credible. The speakers on the panel were Vladimir Međak, vice president of European Movement, Gjergji Vurmo, programme director at Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Srđan Majstorović, chairman of the Governing Board of European Policy Centre, Donika Emini, researcher at Kosovar Centre for Security Studies and Maciej Popowski, deputy Director-General DG NEAR.
Nechev also participated at the final session of the Civil Society Forum that was devoted to drawing conclusions and discussing future engagements of civil society in the Berlin Process. He provided the wrap-up from the discussion conducted during the Think Tank Forum.
Jelica Minić, the vice president of European Movement in Serbia, member of SEE Think Net during the first session of the Think Tank Forum, entitled the role and the important achievements of the connectivity agenda of the Berlin process to the Western Balkans. She referred to infrastructure projects that aim to make the region more connected, especially in the area of transport and energy.
Jovana Marovic from Politikon Network member of SEE Think Net, during the second session of the Think Tank Forum devoted to economic growth talked about the importance of the rule of law and how if this principle is not respected it reduces the negotiating capacity of the states, but also the economic growth in the long run, referring to the case of Montenegro. She stressed the need for the rule of law to be included on the agenda of the Berlin Process.
Donika Emini, researcher of the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies member of SEE Think Net, during the third and last session of the Think tank Forum emphasized the loose EU credibility in Kosovo due to the lack of a green light for visa liberalization despite the fulfillment of the criteria. According to her, it may discourage Kosovo authorities from delivering the necessary reforms in the EU integration process, including the dialogue with Serbia.
IDSCS president, Marko Troshanovski on Thursday, July 4th participated at the closed Ministerial Meeting which gathered the Western Balkans and EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the Poznań Summit. For the first time during the Berlin Process, civil society representatives from all Western Balkan countries were invited by the Polish MFA, Jacek Czaputowicz, not only to provide input, but to remain present during the entire foreign ministers’ meeting. Mr. Troshanovski together with the executive director of the EFB, Aleksandra Tomanic, and representatives of the Western Balkan civil society organisations – Jovana Marovic (Politikon Network), Vukosava Crnjanski (CRTA), Adnan Huskic (Center for Election Studies), Gjergji Vurmo (Institute for Democracy and Mediation) and Naim Rashiti (Balkans Policy Research Group) discussed regional trends, the state of democracy in the Western Balkans, rule of law, bilateral issues, EU enlargement, media freedom and the future of the Berlin Process.