The Civil Society Forum Series is focused on establishing a sustainable and relevant second-track platform in the so-called “Berlin Process”, creating an impetus for debate among decision makers and wider Europe. The series was launched with the idea of being recognised as a relevant segment where governments and politicians in the region can continuously maintain closer cooperation with civil society now and in the future.
The Civil Society Forum Series intends to contribute to the greater role, visibility and impact of civil society in the Berlin Process and in the broader EU integration process of the Western Balkan aspirants. Civil society organisations have rallied around this initiative with the desire to develop a common position, following in the footsteps of the Berlin, Vienna and Paris Summits, and to construct a more permanent Forum for civil society to cooperate and develop a dialogue with political leaders and governments.
With eyes on the Western Balkans Trieste Summit that will be held on July 12, 2017, the Civil Society Forum Series will again try to establish a common WB-EU platform dedicated to the current and future challenges in the Western Balkans, but first and foremost to European cohesion, which must be co-shaped with civil society, the policy community, media and other relevant stakeholders in the EU and the WB region as an important part of it.
WB Civil Society has a vision of the WB6 countries being part of one European family based on the same values and principles. In this optic, the next edition of the CSF, will be held on 26-28 April in Tirana, continuing to feed the Berlin Process, in the already determined direction. The Civil Society Forum Tirana will build upon the achievements of the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Vienna 2015, and the Civil Society Forums in Belgrade, Paris and Skopje in 2016.
This time the Forum will build up 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 concerning the topics of the Trieste Summit, such as: (1) Youth cooperation and the Western Balkans (2) rule of law/anti-corruption, (3) SME (small and medium enterprise) support and innovative platforms for cooperation, (4) bilateral issues.
The key topics will be discussed in the format of panel discussions and focused, thematic workshops. More than 80 participants are expected, including representatives of think tanks, policy institutes and other NGOs from the countries of the Western Balkans as well as high-ranking EU officials and MEPs, diplomats, members of regional and international organisations and foundations, and local and regional media.
The Civil Society Forum Tirana is a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans, ERSTE Foundation and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The local partner of the Civil Society Forum Tirana is the Cooperation and Development Institute Tirana.
The conclusions of this Forum will serve as a basis for formulating a set of messages that will be communicated at the Western Balkans Trieste Summit.