Activities

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Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights  - Recommendations for the Sofia Summit

Western Balkans Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights

3 November 2020

As we approach the Sofia Summit scheduled to take place in November 2020, the Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights (CSP) shares the key findings and recommendations from its research undertaken in 2020, focusing on the progress made by the WB6 governments towards fulfilling their pledges since London and Poznań Summits. The research is one of the actions taken within the CSP’s pledge to assuming greater responsibility for monitoring the Berlin Process agendas, holding the WB Six (WB6) governments accountable for implementing recommendations from the Berlin Process Summits and meeting EU integration criteria.

Findings point to the direction that despite existing challenges and gaps, the Berlin Process as a whole has had a considerable positive impact on the Region. It has managed to redirect the focus of the EU back on the WB6 countries and start a high-level dialogue on equal terms between EU-WB6 leaders, reviving the region’s declining interest in EU integration. It has placed the Region on a stable position on the EU infrastructure map, united the regional civil society under joint causes, and highlighted the role of citizens and youth in promoting dialogue and social change. It has also brought the issue of reconciliation and transitional justice back on the table, raising it as a matter not only of regional but also international importance, as emphasised within the proceedings of the 2020 Zagreb Summit.

Evidence shows, however, that specific factors are slowing down or discouraging progress: 

- In many cases, there is political ambition, but no genuine will;

- Specific pledges made in the field of security and the fight against organised crime have been unrealistic in the way they were initially planned, in terms of both time and capacity;

- Entrenched habits, stereotypes and obsolete mentalities of ‘doing things’ get in the way of achieving progress and interregional cooperation;

- The Berlin Process has no built-in steering and monitoring mechanism and hosting member states, ad hoc, have no authority to act in an oversight capacity. While it is possible to a certain extent to assess the technical and economic progress made within the Berlin Process, it is extremely difficult to evaluate social change;

- There is a lack of clarity on how the ‘stocktaking’ of each Summit takes place and how previous Summits inform the agendas of the forthcoming Summits;

- The outbreak of the pandemic exposed a Region which was completely vulnerable and unable to support its citizens. 

As the Sofia Summit is the 7th annual gathering, what is expected from the WB countries is to take the necessary steps to move the Berlin Process forward by translating pledges into concrete action. In order to step up the reputation and importance of these summits, the focus must shift to issues regarding, monitoring and visibility, commitment and responsibility, and consistency. Therefore, we request the 2020 Sofia Summit Agenda include:

• The implementation of a Monitoring and Visibility Framework to compare and classify whether WB6 governments are holding up to their pledges;

• A shift to legally binding pledges to bolster the Commitment as well as taking Responsibility for the promises being made. Even if this results in a slower pace of progress as WB6 countries scale down their more ambitious commitments. The results may be more concrete than previously seen;

• Consistency is a key factor in the success and viability of the Berlin Process. WB6 governments should refrain from engaging in contradicting actions of sabotaging each other’s progress which do not serve the spirit of good neighbourly relations, cooperation, and peace. The recent flares of nationalist rhetoric across the region only serve to divide the societies and stifle progress being made towards EU integration;

• At a time when the COVID-19 is continuing to have massive impact in the most vulnerable sections of the societies in the Region, the WB6 governments should step up joint efforts to alleviate the negative socioeconomic impact of the crisis, and to build more just, sustainable and democratic societies.

Find below the downloadable/printable pdf version: 

https://thebalkanforum.org/file/repository/Sofia_Summit_39_CSOs_in_WB.pdf

Place:
Western Balkans
Date:
Tue, 3 Nov 2020
Venue:
Western Balkans
Facilitator:
The BF
Summary:
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The research is one of the actions taken within the Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights pledge to conduct ongoing assessments and evaluation of progress made by the Western Balkans (WB) countries towards implementing their commitments since the WB Summits in London and Poznań held in 2018 and 2019, as part of the Berlin Process launched in 2014. It aims to map good practices, but also challenges and existing gaps, and use lessons learnt as a basis for the creation of new strategies and mechanisms, as foreseen by the Berlin Process Summit Recommendations.

Findings point to the direction that despite existing challenges and gaps, the Berlin Process as a whole has had a considerable positive impact on the Region. It has managed to redirect the focus of the EU back on the Western Balkans Six (WB6) countries and start a high-level dialogue on equal terms between EU-WB6 leaders, reviving the region’s declining interest in EU integration. It has placed the Region on a stable position on the EU infrastructure map, united the regional civil society under joint causes, and highlighted the role of citizens and youth in promoting dialogue and social change. It has also brought the issue of reconciliation and transitional justice back on the table, raising it as a matter not only of regional but also international importance, as emphasised within the proceedings of the 2020 Zagreb Summit.

Overall, since the London Summit in 2018, the WB6 countries have been taking small, yet positive steps towards the implementation of their pledges defined in the chairs’ conclusions and Summits’ declarations. Evidence shows, however, that specific factors are slowing down or discouraging progress.

For more on the findings and recommendations, please find the web version below: 

https://thebalkanforum.org/en/berlin-process-overview-of-the-progress-by-the-six-western-balkans-countries-since-london-and-poznan-summits

Place:
Western Balkans
Date:
Tue, 15 Sep 2020
Venue:
Civil Society Platform
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum
Summary:
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Joint statement by the civil society actors from the Western Balkans on COVID-19 pandemic

29 April 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread across our countries and regions, we are all concerned about the severe consequences of the pandemic on our daily lives, as well as about the long-term impact of the crisis. We, the civil society actors from the Western Balkans, stand united and determined to continue joint efforts with local, national, regional and international actors both to alleviate the negative socioeconomic impact of the crisis, and to build more just, sustainable and democratic societies.

Place:
Western Balkans region
Date:
Wed, 29 Apr 2020
Venue:
The Balkan Forum
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum
Summary:
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Members of the Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights discuss the impact of and responses to COVID-19 throughout the Western Balkans region:

- Implications for our economies, societies, public health;

- Pros and Cons of generic vs targeted approaches, and how structured, coordinated and effective are the current efforts of different actors to human rights and the needs of different communities (private sector, civil society, media, ethnic and vulnerable groups);

- How do we get more clarity and adequate responses from the governments and other actors during these uncertain times with COVID-19, to aid and address the implications for:

i) the private sector;

ii) the unemployed and people losing jobs;

iii) payment of taxes (income, pensions, property, etc.), and of utility bills (electricity, water, waste, heating); loans, fees and interests by banks; at a time when people are not working.

- How will the ‘day after’ look like? What will be the needs and priorities, and how do we prepare ourselves (adapt to and respond) to a different environment?

Place:
Western Balkans
Date:
Wed, 8 Apr 2020
Venue:
The Balkan Forum
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum
Summary:
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Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights is undertaking research on the Western Balkans Summits part of the Berlin Process. The research focuses on the progress made by WB countries towards implementing their pledges/commitments since the London and Poznań Summits held in 2018 and 2019. Findings will be shared in April/May 2020.

Place:
Western Balkans
Date:
Wed, 5 Feb 2020
Venue:
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum
Summary:
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Ahead of the Poznan Summit to take place 3 -5 July 2019, the Western Balkans Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights (CSP), shared with the key actors in the region, the following Manifesto. The organisation and functioning of the CSP, and the common position built on important issues since the London Summit, including on the Berlin Process and Annual Summits, serve as a model - and a clear demonstration of our commitment - to advancing dialogue, reconciliation and accountability in our region.   

Manifesto for Poznan and Beyond: Dialogue, Reconciliation, and Accountability

The Berlin Process, created to support Western Balkan countries on their path to EU integration, includes the provision to empower civil society to hold our governments accountable for agreements they make at the yearly summits.

Despite these good intentions, our governments have shown little progress towards implementing their Berlin Process commitments. Each year, our governments’ pledge to end corruption and establish the rule of law. But, according to the Chairs’ Conclusions of the Heads Meeting at the London Summit, serious and organized crime, corruption, money laundering, and financial crime remain among our most significant security threats. Clearly, then, all stakeholders involved in the Berlin Process need to develop new strategies to make our governments responsible for actually doing what, at each summit, they promise to do. Civil society must play a primary role as the citizens of the Western Balkans are the ones that most benefit from becoming part of the European Union family and the ones that directly suffer from our governments’ failures.

The Western Balkans Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights is an independently organized regional consortium that is working across borders to tackle the serious problems we are facing. Our network is united, not by projects or funding, but by the shared desire for peace and stability in our region and a common interest in taking our place in the EU family. As a citizens’ movement, we have already extended our networks beyond simply NGOs to include individuals with important skills, expertise, and knowledge necessary to our mission. With members from every country in the Western Balkans, we are proof that the citizens of the Western Balkans have already reconciled from past conflicts.  Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the increasingly nationalistic rhetoric of our governments.  

When our governments have failed to realize the dream of democracy, it falls to us, the people of the Western Balkans, to lead the way helping our governments develop functional, stable states where accountability and rule of law prevail. Despite our many differences and past conflicts, we all share a common history that has as much potential to unite us as it does to divide us. 

To realize our dream of democracy, we request that the 2019 Poznan Summit Agenda include:

  • A Presentation on Dialogue and Reconciliation as a starting point for defining our common interests and developing regional relationships that allow us to coordinate our joint initiatives;
  • The commitment to define new and creative structures and mechanisms that can more effectively support cross-sector collaborations that promote democracy, rule of law, transparent and accountable governments, and human rights; 
  • The commitment to support a civil society progress report on governments’ compliance with Berlin Process Summit Recommendations.

The European Union Project needs the Western Balkans, and we want to enter the EU family.  At a critical geopolitical moment, thinking beyond the Berlin Process, we need to collaboratively evolve our concrete actions and joint commitment that can unite Europe into an extended family that brings stability and security for all of us.  We are here to take up this work: to turn words into action and to help our governments fulfill their commitments, not just to the Berlin Process Pledges, but to evolving a shared world of peace and prosperity for all. 

Place:
Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia)
Date:
Thu, 6 Jun 2019
Venue:
Western Balkans
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum
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Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights - Poll 

Dear all,

We are conducting an online Poll with a broad spectrum of civil society actors in the Western Balkans with the aim to get input from as a diverse audience as possible, so please disseminate this and ask input from your colleagues/other civil society, experts and other actors in your countries/WB region.

Why the Poll now?
At the Regional Conference “Civil Society Contribution in Berlin Process and EU Integration: A Positive Agenda Focused on Action”, (https://thebalkanforum.org/en/civil-society-contribution-in-berlin-process-and-eu-integration-a-positive-agenda-focused-on-action) held in Tirana on 21 – 22 March 2019, the participants agreed a number of key action points. An online poll has been among them which aims to solicit input from a broad spectrum of civil society actors in the Western Balkans on the following: 1) progress, or lack thereof, by six countries of the Western Balkans since the Western Balkans Summit in London held in July 2018, against the pledges that governments have made, and, 2) priority issues that civil society actors in the Western Balkans would want to put on the Western Balkans Summit agenda scheduled to take place in Poznan, Poland in early July 2019.

In preparation for the summit, we are asking all civil society organizations and independent activists, irrespective of whether or not you are a signatory to the Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights (https://www.civilsocietyplatform.org/), to complete this short poll asking for your input on priority issues to put on the Summit Agenda.

The Poll is anonymous, hence all responses will be kept strictly confidential. Your input will only be used in combination with the responses of others participating in the Poll.

Your input is valuable to us and we thank you for your participation!

Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights

The poll is open from 22 April and ends on 5 May 2019. To complete the poll, please click the following link: https://forms.gle/jk7Dc7yhfVwvuDHX9 

Place:
Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia)
Date:
Mon, 22 Apr 2019
Venue:
Western Balkans - Online Poll
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum
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The first regional CSP conference took place in Tirana, Albania, on 21 - 22 March 2019, entitled “Civil Society Contribution in Berlin Process and EU Integration: A Positive Agenda Focused on Action”. This has been a very productive conference where around 60 participants representing CSOs in WB6, as well as diplomatic presence and media in Albania, including Ambassadors, Attaches, and representatives of diplomatic presence (reps. of Embassy of Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, State of Palestine, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland), Western Balkans Fund (WBF), and Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), engaged in a lively discussion, on civil society contribution in the Berlin Process and EU integration. Participants agreed a number of action points including undertaking research on the progress since the London Summit and drafting a Manifesto that will represent a common civil society position in the Western Balkans Summit scheduled to take place in Poznan, Poland in early July 2019. Ambassador of Poland in Tirana, who attended the entire event on 22 March 2019, provided valuable contribution/advice in the conference.

Place:
Albania
Date:
Fri, 22 Mar 2019
Venue:
Hotel Opera, Tirana
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum and Albanian Center for Good Governance
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Members of the Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights will come together in Tirana, Albania, on 21 to 22 March for the first Regional Meeting of the CSP to follow-up on country meetings, advance the platform's structure and prepare for the Western Balkan Summit in Poznan.

Place:
Albania
Date:
Thu, 21 Mar 2019
Venue:
Hotel Opera
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum; Albanian Center for Good Governance
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The BF & OTTOnomy meeting in Tirana with German Embassy representative

Place:
Albania
Date:
Wed, 12 Dec 2018
Venue:
German Embassy - Tirana
Facilitator:
The BF & OTTOnomy
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APROPO & FRD meeting in Sarajevo with UK Embassy representatives

Place:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Date:
Tue, 11 Dec 2018
Venue:
UK Embassy - Sarajevo
Facilitator:
APROPO & FRD
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APROPO & FRD meeting in Sarajevo with EU Delegation representatives

Place:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Date:
Tue, 11 Dec 2018
Venue:
EU Delegation - Sarajevo
Facilitator:
APROPO & FRD
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The Balkan Forum & EMinS meeting in Belgrade with US Embassy representative

Place:
Serbia
Date:
Mon, 10 Dec 2018
Venue:
Belgrade
Facilitator:
The BF & EMinS
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On November 11-12, 2018 members of the CSP participated in the conference held in Arad, Romania, entitled “Western Balkans and Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union” organized by Center for Balkan Strategies (CBS) and Aurel Vlaicu University. The aim of this conference was to discuss expectations, opportunities and challenges particularly to the EU integration of the WB, enhancing mutual understanding and collaborative efforts to advance reforms, cooperation and good neighborly relations.

Place:
Romania
Date:
Sun, 11 Nov 2018
Venue:
Aurel Vlaicu University
Facilitator:
CBS & Aurel Vlaicu University
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The NGO Subversive Front welcomed other NGOs in their office in Skopje, Macedonia, for a country meeting of the Civil Society Platform on the 17th of October.

Place:
Macedonia
Date:
Wed, 17 Oct 2018
Venue:
Subversive Front's office
Facilitator:
Subversive Front
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Representatives of NGO's in Kosovo came together on Monday, 15th of October, in the rooms of the ICK in Prishtina, for a country meeting of the Civil Society Platform.

Place:
Kosovo
Date:
Mon, 15 Oct 2018
Venue:
Innovation Centre Kosovo
Facilitator:
The Balkan Forum
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On Monday, 15th of October, Albanian signatories to the Civil Society Platform gathered for a country meeting at the Albanian Center for Good Governance in Tirana.

Place:
Albania
Date:
Mon, 15 Oct 2018
Venue:
Albanian Center for Good Governance
Facilitator:
Albanian Center for Good Governance
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The first country meeting of the Civil Society Platform was held at the premises of the Association for Democratic Prosperity in Podgorica, Montenegro. 

Place:
Montenegro
Date:
Wed, 10 Oct 2018
Venue:
ZID
Facilitator:
ALFA Centar