Following the major international conference in Sarajevo in June 2011, a range of multi-level and long-term activities will take place in Washington, D.C., Brussels, and the Western Balkans.
These activities will be coordinated by the newly established Southeast European Initiative at the Center for Transatlantic Relations-SAIS in Washington, D.C. in close cooperation with U.S. and EU partner organizations and foundations, as well as with relevant political, academic, and civil society actors in the Western Balkan’s. The Southeast European Initiative at CTR-SAIS will map a long-term plan for activities focusing on the Western Balkans from a transatlantic perspective; coordinate and lead these activities; and first and foremost offer assistance in promoting civil society in the region.
The overall goal of the Project is to foster regional dialogue and contribute to the empowerment of civil society to influence necessary democratic reforms in countries of the Western Balkans.
This goal will be pursued through the work on a Civil Society Manifesto, the promotional activities in the US, the EU and the Western Balkans as well as development of small and effective project ideas with representatives of the Western Balkans’ civil society.
GENERAL CONTEXT OF THE INITIATIVE AND THE CONFERENCE
It is nearly two decades since the outbreak of hostilities in the vicious “Wars of the Yugoslav Succession,” in which nearly 200,000 people perished in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. Since then, the countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia have developed at varying speeds and with highly dif¬ferent results. Yet all of them face immediate challenges, the responses to which will determine whether the region moves forward, stagnates, or in some parts even reverts to the violence of the 1990’s. Despite the diversity of the region, with few exceptions, all the countries of the Western Balkans share challenges in the political, economic as well as civil sphere, including those of continuing the course of the EU integration (with exception of Croatia, which will join the Union in 2013), integrating national minorities, combating corruption and rebuilding economies, enhancing political and civil participation, etc.
Civil society organizations do not have sufficient access to decision making processes in their countries, but also in the policy making at the EU level. The EU progress reports repeatedly indicate to low participa¬tion of civil society organizations in political and policy processes the region, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, reports by EU TACSO Project show that the level of regional networking is still not sat¬isfactory, while there is a limited number of active regional sectorial civil society networks. Finally, while policies and regulations for inclusion of civil society in decision making and policy processes at country and EU levels exist, these are not truly implemented by local governments. At the level of civil society in the region, other important challenges can be identified:
- The Western Balkans is facing an imminent crisis of democracy, mainly characterized by the mistrust of the citizenry in the formal political institutions and political representatives as well as growing disenchantment with politics.
- Due to a variety of reasons, such as finances, scope of activities and lack of networking opportunities, civil society organizations in the countries of the Western Balkans still remain focused on the context of their country of operation. However, the region faces interdependence of economic, cultural, social and political challenges and mutual issues within EU integration process. There is an urgent need for more prominent and active interaction between civil societies on the regional level including closer cooperation, identifying and addressing of common challenges and common actions;
- The «Western Balkans» fatigue in the international community and the EU has been increasingly visible in the last few years, due to many factors, including EU internal problems, economic crisis, and general lack of progress within the Western Balkans region. This is specifically relevant challenge for the civil society in the region, as the decrease of international support destabilises their role and influence on decision making processes, further reverting the reforms supported by the international community. Fresh initiatives embeddied in excellent networks between the US, the EU and the region, can make a difference – they have the potential to actively empower the civil society to ensure their role is fulfiled and participation is exercised in the decision-making processes related to euroatlantic integration processes both at home and abroad.
To tackle these important issues pertaining Civil Society in the region but also general challenges of the reformist and EU integration processes in the region, National Endowment for Democracy, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Carnegie Endowment for Democracy, Balkan Trust for Democracy as well as regional partners (Ministries in BiH, BH Telecom, etc.) supported the SAIS CTR and ABF initiative to organize a major international Conference in Sarajevo in June 2011 (see www.abf.ba/wbc).
Following this Conference several multi-level and long-term activities organized by the Center for Transat¬lantic Relations, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University (CTR, SAIS) and American-Bosnian Foundation (ABF) have been taking place in the Western Balkans, Washington, D.C., Brussels, and other capitals of the EU.
Jasmin Jašarević, PRONI, Brčko
Milan Mrđa and/or Aida Daguda, Centar za promociju civilnog društva
Borislav Đurić, Mrkonjić Grad
Adis Arapović, Centar civilnih inicijativa, Sarajevo
Vehid Šehić, Forum Građana Tuzla
Amra Selesković, Organizacija VESTA, Tuzla
Mevlida Rovčanin, CEI CSO, Network, Sarajevo
Zoran Puljić, Fondacija Mozaik, Sarajevo
Mak Kamenica, America – Bosnia Foundation
Valentina Pellizzer, Platforma jedan svijet za jugoistočnu europu
Dražena Lepir, Oštra Nula Banja Luka
Darjan Bilić, Akcija građana OKC- Abrašević
Eldin Karic, Zurnal Info
Tija Memisevic, European Research Center, Sarajevo
Chris Bragdon, “BILD“ – Bosnia Initiatives for Local Development
Kurt Bassuener, Democratization Policy Council
Aida Ćorović, Urban IN, Novi Pazar, Srbija
Milan Vracar, Citizens of Culture, Novi Sad, Srbija
Olivera Vuković, SeConS, Beograd, Srbija
Miloš Đajić, Centar modernih veština, Beograd, Srbija
Jelena Milić, Center for Euroatlantic Studies (CEAS), Belgrade
Srdjan Djurovic, CPES, Director
Aleksandar Popov, Center for Regionalism (Igman Initiative)
Igor Kostic, The Initiatives
Milan Pajevic, ISAC Fund
Aleksandar Kovačević, Beograd
Zvezdan Kalmar, Bankwatch, CEKAR
Goran Božičević, ZAMIR.net, Hrvatska
Nataša Skaričić, nezavisna novinarka, Hrvatska, Natasa Skaricic
Gordan Bosanac, Centar za Mirovne Studije, Hrvatska
Iva Zenzerovic, Odbor Miramida-Centar, Regionalne razmjene mirovnih iskustava, Hrvatska,
Nataša Bodrožić, culturenet.hr, Hrvatska
Vedran Horvat, Zagreb office, Heinrich Böll Stiftung
Jelena Berković, GONG, Zagreb, Hrvatska
Teodor Celakoski, ZELENA AKCIJA
Lumir Abdixhiku, RIINVEST Institute
Ilir Hoxha, Youth Project, World Bank
Venera Hajrullahu, Kosovar Civil Society Foundation
Fisnik Korenica, Group for Legal and Political Studies
Dren Doli, Group for Legal and Political Studies
Mentor Vrajoli, Kosova
Elbassan Morina, Kosova
Valdeta Idrizi, civikos
Žarko Trajanovski, Makedonija
Žarko Trajkov, Triagolnik, Skoplje, Makedonija, Zarko Trajkov
Vladimir Mišev, Institute for Democracy "Societas Civilis", Skoplje, Macedonia, Aleksandra Bojadzieva, InSoC - Initiative for Social Change
Lidija Dimova, MCET ( Macedonian center for European Training
German Filkov, CCC (Center for Civic Communications)
Dejan Georgievski, oneworldsee, Skoplje
Ajša Hadžibegović, ex Forum MNE, Podgorica, Crna Gora
Filip Kovačević, Univerzitet Kotor, Crna Gora
Daliborka Uljarević, Centre for Civic Education, Montenegro
Jelena Miljanić, Kancelarija za mlade, Podgorica, Crna Gora
Vanja Calovic, MANS
Dritan Abazovic, Podgorica
Conclusions and recommendations
U Sarajevu je 17. aprila 2012. godine održana panel diskusija pod nazivom “ U SUSRET EU INTEGRACIJAMA: Vizije i izazovi za civilno društvo u kontekstu EU integracija u BiH i u regionu".
Ispod možete preuzeti zaključke i preporuke članova civilnog društva iz BiH i zemalja Zapadnog Balkana koji su učestvovali u navedenom panelu.
Diskusija je održana u sklopu regionalne konferencija civilnog društva pod nazivom “Uključivanje civilnog društva”, a na kojoj je učestvovalo preko 60 predstavnika civilnog društva iz cijelog regiona Zapadnog Balkana. Cilj pomenute konferencije bio je jačanje uloge civilnog društva u političkim i društvenim procesima u Bosni i Hercegovini i na Zapadnom Balkanu u procesu integracije u Evropsku Uniju. Ovaj događaj je krenuo od pretpostavke da ključ za nastavak mirnog razvoja zemalja Zapadnog Balkana leži u jačanju uloge civilnog društva.
Civilno drustvo i EU Zakljucci i preporuke juli 2012 final (PDF, 785kb)