The Forum of Civil Society and Think Tanks (CSF), within the framework of the Berlin Process, is planned October 14 and 15 in Tirana. The forum is structured around seven thematic working groups, each led by civil society organizations from the region. These working groups actively engaged in a comprehensive consultation process, involving civil society and regional experts, to collaboratively formulate policy recommendations.
According to the announcement from the Civil Society Forum, the Thematic Working Group on Security and Geopolitics will anchor its discussions around cooperation between security institutions in the Western Balkans. This working group will examine the effectiveness and impact of current mechanisms, as well as how security cooperation can be further strengthened in light of contemporary security challenges.
“There are significant political and institutional challenges that undermine regional security cooperation in the Western Balkans, which is a vital issue for a more democratic and stable region. The region cannot counter harmful foreign influences, corrosive capital and deal with cyber threats without cooperation among the region’s security institutions. To achieve this, we need greater political will, administrative capacity and confidence-building measures,” says Ramadan Ilaziresearch manager at the Kosovo Center for Security Studies, one of the coordinators of the working group, for European Western Balkans.
Among the recommendations already made by the working group is that political leaders of Western Balkan countries should commit to changing their tone and language when communicating with each other and referring to other Balkan countries and citizens Westerners, as well as minorities and other ethnic groups in their own countries.
“Therefore, a change in the political discourse in the Western Balkans should prioritize reconciliation, empathy and cooperation. The use of inflammatory language by the region’s leaders is a fundamental factor that perpetuates political extremism and ethno-political radicalization in the Western Balkans,” the working group concluded.
Furthermore, in 2024, national authorities in the Western Balkans should focus on establishing a foreign direct investment (FDI) screening mechanism, or at least agree on regionally accepted standards for investment screening.
“This is important to foster resilience against corrosive capital, linked to vulnerabilities to corruption linked to domestic and foreign investments,” the recommendation states.
Furthermore, taking into account evolving geopolitical situations, including events in Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as recent mass shootings in the Western Balkans, countries in the region should revise their national legislation on arms control to harmonize it with the EU legal framework. which is expected to be completed by 2026.
By 2024, all Western Balkan countries should conclude cooperation agreements with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the working group recommends.
“This would contribute to strengthening the rule of law in the Western Balkans as well as strengthening democratic resilience,” underlines this recommendation.
Regarding the recommendations addressed to the European Union, they include the creation of a financial facility solely dedicated to supporting reconciliation projects in the Western Balkans, as well as inviting the Western Balkans to join the reporting mechanism on the EU Rule of Law as well as the EU Rule of Law Mechanism. of the regulation on the conditionality of the law.
This latest recommendation “would allow WB6, like the current 27 EU member states, to undergo assessments based on the same set of benchmarks in four critical areas related to the rule of law: the judicial system, anti-corruption measures, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional aspects related to checks and balances.”
These recommendations arise from consultations with security experts from all Western Balkan countries within the Thematic Working Group on Security and Geopolitics.