Cooperation and Development Institute, in cooperation with European Fund for the Balkans, ERSTE Foundation and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung organized the Civil Society Forum (CSF) of the Western Balkans Series, which took place in Tirana, from 26th to 28th of April 2017.
The CSF Tirana meetings emphasized the importance of the enlargement process of the six countries of the Western Balkans (WB6) to the EU and elaborated recommendations addressed to the Trieste Summit of the Heads of State and Governments, to be held in Italy, on 12th of July 2017.
Relevant issues were discussed in the format of a plenary session, panel discussions, thematic workshops and four working groups covering the following topics:
– Youth cooperation in WB6
– Rule of law and anti-corruption
– Business environment and innovation potential in WB6: role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
– Bilateral issues
Participants and panelists actively voiced their concerns and exchanged views on regional youth cooperation and good neighboring relations, considered as key factors for the future of the Balkans. They also emphasized the priority of WB6 countries in strengthening the rule of law, the judiciary reform and the fight against corruption, as one of the most important criteria for the EU accession. A special focus was given to the role of SMEs in promoting economic growth and encouraging youth entrepreneurship in the WB6.
This forum was attended by more than 100 participants and brought together members and representatives of think tanks, civil society organizations, policy institutes, academia, researchers, media, grassroots organizations and citizens’ initiatives from the countries of the Western Balkans and EU.
High-ranking officials and diplomats were also invited to give their input: HE Ditmir Bushati, Albanian Minster of Foreign Affairs, HE Romana Vlahutin, Head of EU Delegation to Albania, Tanja Fajon, MEP and Vice-Chair of the S&D Group, Ulrike Lunacek, MEP and EP Vice-President (Greens/EFA, Austria) in charge of Western Balkans, Karl Giacintifrom the European Commission/ Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes, Civil Society and Media, Eduard Shalsi, Albanian Minister of State for Local Government and National Coordinator for Anti-Corruption, Hannes Swoboda, President of Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW) and Member of Board of Directors CDRSEE organization, HE Michele Giacomelli, Special Envoy of Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Berlin Process, Milva Ekonomi, Albanian Minister of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship, Djuro Blanusa , Secretary General of Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), HE Susanne Schütz German Ambassador to Albania, HE Alberto Cutillo, Italian Ambassador to Albania, HE Dewi van de Weerd, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Albania etc.
The interested stakeholders are invited to consult the conclusions of the CSF here.
The agenda of the CSF Tirana can be consulted here.
More information on the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkan Summit Series can be consulted here.
The four topical papers of the CSF Tirana can be consulted here.