On 26th May, 2015, European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) organized a working workshop under the title “Culture of Regional Cooperation” in the framework of the newly launched “Civil Society Initiative of the Vienna Western Balkans Summit”. The workshop brought together over 30 representatives of civil society, academia, think-tanks and RCC to discuss concrete practices in several thematic areas. Tanja Hafner Ademi, Executive Director of BCSDN, presented the example of BCSDN network and its work on setting the agenda in the area of civil society development.
The main points of the overall discussion included that cooperation by civil society continued uninterrupted regardless of wars and conflicts, responded to real and concrete needs of citizens, while regional cooperation by officials is many times decorative and taken as an alibi for not taking on reforms at home. Finally, regional cooperation is essential to progress of individual countries and the region, but this is a tool for progress on the reform path to members in the EU.
The Vienna Western Balkans Summit will take place on 27th August 2015, with the participation of heads of EU member states and countries of South Eastern Europe. It is a continuation of the so-called “Berlin Process”, which was initiated in August 2014 by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to show further political commitment to the future enlargement of the European Union towards the Western Balkans. On the day of the Summit, civil society representatives will have the possibility to present their concrete proposals to the present politicians, therefore kicking off a process of further civil society engagement until the next Summit in August 2016.
The “Culture of Regional Cooperation” Workshop is a joint project of ERSTE Foundation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Karl Renner Institute, in close cooperation with the European Fund for the Balkans.