Civil Society to Be an Additional Important Element of the Berlin Process

One year after the Berlin Western Balkans Summit, the heads of government, foreign ministers and economic ministers of WB countries met on 27th August for the 2nd Summit Meeting on the Western Balkans in the framework of the ‘Berlin Process’ to show further political commitment to the future enlargement of the European Union towards the Western Balkans. For the first time, the participating states have welcomed the holding of a civil society segment in the Margins of the Summit and the substantial civil society contributions made on the Summit’s main topics in the Final Summit Declaration. Considering civil society as a voice which needs to be nurtured and present in the EU integration process of the WB countries, participants have welcomed the proposal to make civil society an additional element of the Berlin Process. The full text of the Final Declaration by the Chair of the Vienna WB Summit is available here.

On 26th August, around 100 representatives of civil society from the Western Balkans, including Centre's member Tanja Jakobi met to finalize recommendations delivered to EU and Western Balkans leaders present at the Vienna Summit. The recommendations focused on proposing measures on how to tackle challenges of youth and unemployment; freedom of expression and regional cooperation and called on WB leaders to support civil initiatives and networks who have so far showed very tangible results. Ahead of the Summit, ideas for follow-up activities were exchanged so that civil society could be included in the s.c. Berlin Process more directly, on continues basis and as equal partners in the EU integration process. As the WB Governments are setting up a WB Fund on the example of the International Vishegrad Fund, which funds regional civil society, academic etc. projects and exchanges, civil society demanded Government to not devise solutions for civil society without its inclusion. A Forum in form of a TV-show was held ahead of Summit between selected CSO representatives and PM Rama, Vucic and Ministers of Foreign Affairs Lukcis, Crdanak. More information is available here.