In preparation for this year's CSF, which will take place in Tirana on 14-15 October, an advocacy visit of a delegation of OSF and ELIAMEP to the German capital took place on 5-7 June 2023. 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).
The objectives and important aspects of this year's Forum were presented and discussed in a series of meetings with strategic stakeholders. Discussions were held with representatives of the Chancellery and the German Foreign Office, as well as with members of the German Federal Parliament. In addition, the delegation led by Andi Dobrushi, Western Balkans Director at OSF, had a number of meetings with important think tanks from the foreign policy fields, such as DGAP (German Council on Foreign Relations), SWP (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) and IEP (Institut für Europäische Politik), and German political foundations, such as FES (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung) and Heinrich Boell Stiftung.
Several of the interlocutors emphasized the importance of seizing the current momentum: the ongoing war in Ukraine, the extensive deliberations on the security architecture of Europe, and the recent candidate status granted to the war-ravaged Ukraine and to Moldova, have provided a new impetus to the talks on EU-accession perspectives. The correlation between the Western Balkans and the Eastern enlargement was underlined by several partners. Furthermore, the importance of enhancing the Common Regional Market (CRM) and how this can be linked to the EU Single Market was discussed extensively during the meetings. A further key issue was the problem of gradual/staged accession, with some partners being skeptical, while others considered it a realistic prospect. There was a lengthy exchange of views on the current challenges in the region and how they could affect the Berlin Process, whereas several interlocutors stressed that the impact of internal matters on the discourse about the enlargement in light of the upcoming 2024 European elections shouldn’t be underestimated.
The delegation of the organizers of this year's CSF composed of Andi Dobrushi, Miodrag Milosavlijecic, Lura Limani, Klodjan Seferaj (OSF); Eleftherios Petropoulos (ELIAMEP) highlighted its interlocutors how this year's Forum intends to be an important opportunity in the discourse of enlargement. The substantial and methodical work being done by the organizing actors, as well as by the institutions leading the discussions on a number of issues within the thematic working groups, shall lead to the production of realistic and implementable proposals to be presented at the Tirana Forum in October. In light of the particularly productive discussions, many partners expressed their willingness to hold meetings with the OSF organizers both before and after the Forum on the basis of the recommendations produced.