On 10th of July 2020, an online webinar was organised on the topic “Western Balkans' local authorities: EU accession & Berlin Process”.
The webinar was officially opened by ALDA’s President Mr. Oriano Otočan, and Secretary General Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida. ALDA’s Director of Skopje office & SEE Regional Programmes Coordinator Ivana Petrovska moderated the online event. Key note speeches and presentations were delivered by Mr. Andrej Zernovski, the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia Mr. Colin Wolfe , Head of Unit Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes (DG NEAR), Mrs. Nataša Vučković , director of the Center for Democracy Foundation and Mr. Nikola Dobroslavić, President of the Croatian Delegation to the European Committee of the Regions and member of the CIVEX and COTER commissions and Prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.
The webinar was held for 2 hours and the discussion was followed by over 40 people from EU and Balkan countries.
The key note speakers have addressed important question about the Western Balkans EU integration processes.
Mr Zernovski, outlined that local and regional authorities have their say in policy making and good governance. This approach is very important in 2020, especially in relation to the Berlin process. The application of the principle of inclusiveness was actually one of the most important learning outcomes of the joint presidency of North Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Mr. Wolfe talked about the overall EU - Western Balkans relationship. He underlined the priorities of the Balkan Countries for the upcoming years, in light of the EU accession process.
Mrs. Vučković, spoke about the work that needs to be done with the young people in the region. She pointed out the importance of opening perspectives for them, to motivate them to stay in the Balkans. In order to straighten their capacities they need to continue with the reforms as leaders. She compared the countries and commented their effort for the opening accessions in EU integration. She agreed with the previous speakers on the key challenges of this region - highlighting the significant democracy deficiency in Western Balkan Countries.
Mr. Dobroslavić, spoke about the challenges and the working groups for cooperation within the region. He encouraged cooperation with local and regional authorities in order to help the sub national authorities to better prepare for the EU integration.
The conclusion was agreed from all sides: it is important to invest, to create and to map the possibilities and then find the actors to work on the integration.
The webinar was organized within the framework of the project “Regional Youth Compact for Europe” supported by DG NEAR and coordinated by the Foundation Center for Democracy. The webinar is part of the strategic objectives of the Balkan Network for Local Democracy, a network created by ALDA and the Local Democracy Agencies from Western Balkans to support regional cooperation and EU integration.