Forum Seeks To Strengthen Civil Society Participation in the Berlin Process
Dr. Valbona Zeneli, Chair of Strategic Initiatives at the Marshall Center participated at the Aspen Institute Germany, and the Southeast Europe Association Civil Society and Think Tank Forum in Berlin, Nov. 1-2. Supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, the conference brought together more than 100 participants and civil society representatives from the Western Balkans to present policy recommendations to government officials from their region and leaders from other European countries.
Zeneli moderated the final spotlight of the conference facilitating a discussion about regional economic cooperation between Alexander Wallau, German Federal Chancellery, Pranvera Kastrati, Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Jelica Minić, European Movement in Serbia, Nenad Djurdjevic, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, and Silvana Mojsovska, St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje.
“Regional integrated growth in the Western Balkans is key for the European future of the region. Integration of the region into the EU is very important ahead of full accession in order to accelerate the economic and social convergence with the EU countries,” said Zeneli.
The two-day program, consisting of topical panel discussions, workshops and spotlight talks, aimed at strengthening the voice of civil society and promoting “local ownership” of policy discussions in the Berlin Process. By fostering a lively exchange between civil society and decision makers, the Aspen Institute Germany and the Southeast Europe Association support the Berlin Process that seeks to strengthen regional cooperation and facilitate a continuous dialogue among the Western Balkan countries as well as with EU member states.
“The Berlin Process has been crucial in enhancing regional economic integration and laying the foundations for sustainable economic growth. In this new strategic competition era, more attention needs to be paid to the Western Balkans, more support with funding for economic projects and capacity building for strengthening democratic institutions,” said Zeneli.
The participants were also addressed in a video message by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who reiterated Germany’s commitment to the Berlin Process and emphasized the importance of a strengthened, continuous dialog within the Western Balkans and between the region and the EU.