The 2023 Tirana Civil Society and Think Thank Forum (hereinafter CSF) is a series of events that will bring together civil society representatives, think-tankers, and experts from the Western Balkans (hereinafter WB) to discuss various regional challenges, share best practices, and develop policy recommendations to be presented to decision-makers from the WB and Europe, at the Berlin Process Summit. The Berlin Process is a platform for high-level cooperation between official representatives of the WB6 and their EU counterparts, aiming to enhance regional cooperation in the WB, boost EU-related reforms, and accelerate the accession process.
The Government of Albania, as the current holder of the Presidency of the Berlin Process, and host of the Berlin Process Summit 2023, has mandated OSF in Western Balkans the responsibility for preparing, organizing, and overseeing the CSF, as part of the Berlin Process Summit, in cooperation with the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and Cooperation and Development Institute (CDI). 2023 Tirana CSF is taking place on October 14-15, 2023.
Conceptually, this year's CSF relies on the following principles:
- The forum should provide a platform for WB civil society to provide its insights in a constructive, inclusive, and impartial manner to further the objectives of the Berlin Summit;
- The Forum should not be perceived as a one-off event during the Leaders’ Summit, but rather as a consultative process between consecutive summits;
- There should be content continuity from one Forum to the next;
- The Forum should strive to assure multi-layered connectivity, meaning connecting WB civil society with other relevant stakeholders including civil society from EU MS, WB government representatives and administration, and representatives from relevant international institutions, organizations, or EU MS governments.
- Content-wise, the Forum seeks to make a valuable contribution to WB6 convergence with EU and increase the resilience of engaged reforms during the regions’ accession process.
One of the principal aims of the Civil Society and Think-Tank Forum is the elaboration of policy recommendations on a series of topical and crucial issues pertaining to the enlargement process. In this year’s Forum, these thematic focus points are 1) Energy, 2) Access to the European single market, 3) Digitalization and connectivity, 4) Climate and the EU green agenda, 5) Mobility and migration, 6) Security and geopolitics, 7) Politics of enlargement.
The consultation work on each of these topics is led by an organization, whose overall task is to organize, coordinate, and facilitate the work of the groups. More specifically, these working groups seek to:
- enhance the political message of the recommendations produced;
- maximize their outreach to relevant governments (in the Western Balkan region and the EU), local and regional authorities, multilateral organizations, and civil society,
- Ensure that these messages are more understandable to and actionable for policy-makers and decision-makers, and therefore have increased chances of being implemented by the relevant stakeholders.
It is hoped that this substantive and organized way of working will ultimately ensure that the Tirana Civil Society Forum can effectively influence the political dialogue on the Western Balkans’ accession process.