8 December 2020
Cooperation and Development Institute organized on the 8th of December the online thematic event “Resilience and Sustainability of Regional Cooperation Initiatives in SEE6”.
The aim was to discuss the profile and evolution of Regional Cooperation Initiatives in the Western Balkans, focusing on the factors that increase their efficiency, resilience and sustainability. During the event, CDI presented the newly established Observatory of Regional Cooperation (ORC). This is a web-based platform dedicated to the observation, collection of empirical data, analysis and promotion of regional cooperation in the South East Europe, with the goal to contribute to the resilience and sustainability of an all-inclusive regional cooperation. It is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg.
This online meeting kicked off with the remarks of the moderator Mr. Nemanja Todorović Štiplija, Editor-in-Chief of European Western Balkans, who gave an overview of cooperation dynamics in the region and their contribution to the EU Enlargement process.
The discussions among the speakers started with Mr. Philippe Donckel, Ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Mr. Donckel gave his country’s perspective on regional and cross-border cooperation, considering them necessary for small countries. To be efficient and resilient they need to be practical and produce tangible benefits for the citizen.
The discussion continued with Ms. Tanja Miščević, Deputy Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, who elaborated on the inter-relations between regional cooperation and enlargement policy. She focused on the regional cooperation importance as an added value to the process of European integration. Ms. Miščević mentioned the importance of the political will from national authorities, the need to share good practices, and the role of CSO in boosting regional cooperation in the SEE6 region.
Mr. Gazmend Turdiu, Director of Regional Affairs and Neighboring Countries at the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs focused on the relevance and efficiency of RCI. Bringing a historical perspective in his analysis, he recommended an assessment of RCI based on their relevance, capacity to deliver; added value, governance structure and mechanisms; and, human resources and financial back up. He concluded by mentioning the specific role Civil Society Organizations have in shaping this process.
The panel discussions were concluded by Mr. Ardian Hackaj, Director of Research, of Cooperation and Development Institute who gave a presentation of the main findings resulting from ORC platform on regional cooperation initiatives in SEE6. He presented ORC as a unique initiative to assess the challenges and the success factors that SEE6 cooperation initiatives face. Based on the sample of 60 RCI, Mr. Hackaj presented the methodology used for building ORC, and an empirical definition of what an RCI looks like. The analysis show that the focus of the
regional initiatives has shifted from stabilizing the region and building good neighborly relations towards sector based and impact-oriented ones; that there is an increase of non-governmental initiatives (from academia, business and CSO) compared to governmental ones; and a growing focus on enlargement process and connectivity.
Regarding the challenges, Mr. Hackaj listed low visibility, overlapping of initiatives, incomplete good governance mechanisms, insecure funding, incomplete set of good governance mechanisms, and low networking coordination. To be resilient, a regional cooperation initiative must specialize in a certain sector and produce identifiable added value for its members. In addition, it needs to identify challenges in a forever-changing world and it should have the ability to get support, in terms of, political and financial from key actors, such as EU Commission, member states SEE6 countries and other actors.
In the end, all the panelists made their final remarks and recommendations and gave a rundown of all the mentioned ideas and objectives. The moderator, Mr. Štiplija thanked all the panelists and the Cooperation and Development Institute for this roundtable, which made possible discussions, remarks and provided new ideas to be addressed.
To consult the Observatory of Regional Cooperation, please click here.
To consult the agenda of the event, please click here.