The Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit series took place in Tirana from April 26-28. The Forum was focused on the broader issue of civil society contributing in setting the European agenda, in making and debating policy proposals and in evaluating policy results, and on formulating key messages and recommendations, to be presented during the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, in July.
Over a hundred members of civil society organizations, diplomats, officials and politicians from the Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and the EU took part in talks about some of the most pressing issues in the Western Balkans.Among other, the contributions were also made by 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 Giacinti, Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes, Civil Society and Media (DG NEAR), Hannes Swoboda, Member of Board of Directors CDRSEE, HE Ditmir Bushati, Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Michele Giacomelli, Special Envoy of Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Berlin Process.
The Tirana meeting began with analysis of the Berlin Process and the EU enlargement policy, continuing with discussions on four topics: youth cooperation in WB6, rule of law and anti-corruption, business environment and innovation potential in WB6: role of SMEs, and bilateral issues. The participants exchanged views and ideas on structures and resources needed to enable stable and long-term youth cooperation in the region; on the biggest challenges for the rule of law; on the structures and support mechanisms that can spur development of entrepreneurial initiatives, especially in cross-border cooperation in culture and creative industries; and on possible ways to prevent further deterioration of neighbourly relations in the region and reverse the negative trends. The results of the discussions will be formulated into recommendations for the Trieste Summit during the coming weeks.