Foreign Policy Initiative BH, in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung BiH and BiH Foreign Trade Chamber organized the presentation of policy analysis “European (Re)Connection of the Balkans – the Search for new Modalities of Cooperation” by Igor Kosić on 25 June 2018. The aim of the analysis was to highlight the importance of the regional cooperation of six Western Balkans countries, on the achievements made so far, but also on the challenges and obstacles which are before them in the European integration process. The analysis of CEFTA as a platform for regional trade integration from the perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina was followed by the presentation of the Regional Economic Area and the Multi-annual Action Plan.
The new initiatives and funding by the EU present new opportunities to return the focus to structural socioeconomic reforms and analyze obligations stemming from the Multi-annual action plan for the Regional economic area in the area of trade, investments, mobility and digital integration, stated the author of the analysis, Igor Kosić.
The panelists, Adnan Muminović, Economic Advisor with the Office of the EU Special Representative in BiH, Amila Šehić, representative of BiH Foreign Trade Chamber from the Macro-economy Department and Lejla Ramić-Mesihović, FPI BH director in their comments highlighted the experience and preconditions for better regional cooperation and underlined that the removing of non-trade tariffs would increase the growth potential of BiH and the region.
The Vice-President of BiH Foreign Trade Chamber Bruno Bojić addressed the participants and stated that the progress on European integration process is important in order to connect the trade societies, but also that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s trade with the countries of the region is more than 70%.
Proposal of practical policy which contains 12 recommendations for invigorating the EU integration process was presented in Belgrade on June 21st at the international conference “Messages from the Western Balkans”. Lejla Ramić-Mesihović, Foreign Policy Initiative BH Director presented the results of the research for Bosnia and Herzegovina and commented on the current EU integration process in the country and the region.
Vice-President of the European Movement in Serbia, Vladimir Međak said that the study is based on two principles – that there is a desire for enlargement within the EU and that there is willingness in the Western Balkan countries to do the reform processes which would enable them to join the Union.
“The core of the problem is that the existing framework is not good. The way the negotiations are being held has turned from a one-ended to a never-ending process and it must be clearly stated”, Međak stated.
German ambassador to Serbia, Axel Ditman stated he is pleased the embassy was able to finance the project within which the 12 recommendations were produced: “Our two key recommendation are that we remain committed to the merit-based Euro-Atlantic integration of the region , and that the key of the process are internal reforms within candidate countries, especially the rule of law.”
Representatives of six civil society organizations from the region presented the Study about the effects of the CEFTA Agreement and the Stabilization and Association Agreement for the reform process in the Western Balkan countries and the effects of CEFTA and SAA agreements on the reform processes.
European Movement Serbia was the project coordinator, while European Movement from Montenegro, Foreign Policy Initiative BH from Sarajevo, Institute Riinvest from Pristina, Institute for international studies from Albania and European Policy Institute from Skopje were project partners.
The international conference was organized within the project Effects of SAP instruments on WB6 European Integrations and Regional Cooperation, with financial support of the German Embassy in Serbia and Open Society Foundation.
In the new position paper, Foreign Policy Initiative BH looks at the current bilateral and multilateral relations in the Western Balkans in line of forthcoming high level meetings and the new EU enlargement strategy.
What do “frozen conflicts” and “Balkanization” mean in the Balkans and what in the EU?
Repercussions of frozen conflicts for regional stability in the Western Balkans
Foreign Policy Initiative BH, within the project “Western Balkans Enabling Project for Civil Society Monitoring of Public Administration Reform”- WeBER is organizing focus groups with candidates that applied on open calls in BiH institutions (on the state level) in the last two years.
All interested candidates are invited to apply to email@example.com and send their contact information (email and phone number), position and the institution where they applied.
Focus group will be held in FPI BH premises during May. The number of participants is limited, all individuals who wish to participate need to submit an application. Detailed logistical information will be forwarded to all candidates that submitted an application.
Please feel free to contact us for additional information.
Foreign Policy Initiative BH organized a panel discussion “Promotion of Rule of Law in the Western Balkans: Is BiH Prepared to Open Negotiations with the EU?” in Sarajevo on March 29th. The event was organized as part of the regional project implemented within Think for Europe Network “Benchmarking for EU Reform- How Effective? BENCHER”.
The event panelists, Nedžma Džananović-Miraščija from the Faculty of Political Science of Sarajevo University, Inela Hadžimešić, from the Initiative for Monitoring of EU Integrations and Lejla Ramić-Mesihović, Director of Foreign Policy Initiative BH highlighted the importance of more credible reform processes within the rule of law in order for BiH to progress in the EU integration process.
Lejla Ramić-Mesihović presented the key conclusions and recommendations of the country analysis for BiH done as part of the project, the title of which indicates that the next steps in the EU integration process will lead to the “masks falling off” and that the relevant institutions will have to be more accountable. The panelists agreed that the involvement of the civil society and the expert academia is necessary in order to widen the discourse on these topics, exert pressure and monitor the work of the institutions and that the reforms cannot be only declarative.
Highlighting the regional aspect of the project, it was underlined that the problems BiH faces are not unique and that they are shared by majority of the Western Balkan countries, which is why the approach of the international community and the European Union in developing of benchmarks and conditionality need to take into account such circumstances in order to be more effective.
During the discussion, the importance of joint activities by all stakeholder involved in the process in order to support the reform processes was pointed out. The event was attended by representatives of institutions, political parties, civil society organizations and international institutions.
The project is financed by the European Fund for the Western Balkans and Open Society Fund.
Concretization of the EU Integration Process: Masks Will Fall Off (Benchmarking in BiH)
Reforming from the Bench-Marking Offside (regional analysis)
Foreign Policy Initiative BH, in cooperation with SIGMA/OECD organized a seminar for representatives of National Working Group within WeBER project in order to present the monitoring results of Public Administration Reform in BiH by SIGMA as well as the first monitoring results of the WeBER project.
The event was attended by representatives of CSOs from BiH which form the National Working Group for monitoring of PAR on the local level and the representatives of organizations which implement projects supported by the Small Grant Facility for monitoring PAR on the local level by the WeBER project. Chloe Berger, Head of Operations for Justice, Home Affairs and Public Administration Reform from the Delegation of the European Union in BiH gave the introductory remarks and highlighted the important of inclusion of the civil society in the reform processes.
Primož Vehar, Brian Finn and Marian Lemke, SIGMA experts, presented the Monitoring Report for BiH for 2017 in the six areas of Public Administration Principles. Anida Šabanović, WeBER researcher presented the first monitoring results of the project. Members of WeBER platform, Transparency International BiH and Centre for Investigative Journalism as well as the WeBER grantees presented their projects and their monitoring results. Vedrana Faladžić and Aneta Raić from the BiH Public Administration Reform Coordinator’s Office presented the institution’s current activities in the sector as well as the ongoing development of the new Strategic framework for PAR in BiH.
Foreign Policy Initiative BH, in cooperation with Embassy of United States in Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized two three-day workshops in Sarajevo and Teslić from 5-10th February. The aim of the workshops was to empower BiH female politicians and political and social activists when it comes to negotiations skills which will help them in their future activities and advocacy for women’s rights in BiH.
The workshops were held by the world renowned expert in the field of negotiations in the work place, Mrs Deborah Kolb, PhD, Harvard Law School emerita. Professor Kolb is especially interested in the relations between negotiations and gender issues. She started working on gender issues during the 1980s, when this area was significantly overlooked. Professor Kolb is the author of several books, the most recent being “Negotiation at Work- Turn Small Wins into Big Gains”.
The professor underlined that when it comes to negotiation preparations, one must all have sufficient, defensible arguments ready. “You need to look at what the other side has. Knowing the facts has a double effect. You will have greater legitimacy in creating conditions and it will be easier to find advantages, which means that the negotiations have a greater chance of succeeding. What is good for you is good for your organization. It is important to understand the other side- recognizes the five reasons for which the other side might say no to you. If you know their perspective, it is easier to handle the situation”, she pointed to the participants.
Through the interactive workshops, the participants were given the opportunity to learn about the importance of self-confidence in the negotiations and the importance of understanding the negotiating position of the other side, but also of defining one’s own goals. One of the key conclusions the participants highlighted is the importance of having allies, which could provide assistance and help the negotiations.
Through dynamic exercises and acquired skills, the negotiation simulations empowered the participants to be more determined in future negotiations, be they in their business, social or political engagements.
Within the framework of the regional project Benchmarking for EU Reform-How Effective? BENCHER, which Foreign Policy Initiative BH is implementing within the Think for Europe Network, we researched the BiH Progress Report for 2015 and 2016 which the European Commission publishes on an annual basis with the aim to analyze the recommendations and conclusion on the reform progress.
The analysis “One step forward, two steps back” concluded that numerous recommendations were repeated for 2016 and that the most of them regards the lack of implementation of country-wide strategies which severely hamper the reform processes. Although numerous government representatives presented the last Country Report as one of the best and most positive so far, by analyzing the recommendations and conclusions it is easy to realize that the majority of statements were far from the reality and the subject matter of the report.
Country analysis BiH
Comparative regional analysis
In cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Sarajevo University Faculty of Political Science ,we organized the panel discussion “2015-2025: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU path”. The event was inspired by the discussion paper by Osman Topčagić, written with the aim to entice discussion and debate about the current process of European integrations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the future of the Western Balkans countries.
Panel participants, Nedžma Džananović-Miraščija, assistant professor at the Faculty of Political Science Sarajevo, Svetlana Cenić, economic expert and Đorđe Tomić, senior assistant the Faculty of Political Science Banja Luka, underlined the need for structured and informed debates on this and similar topics in order for the public, and the key actors of the integration process, be more informed and make a substantive contribution.
Panelists also highlighted the importance of the separation of the reform processes from meddling of daily-political discourse so as to enable BiH to finally move forward with the stabilization and association process and do so for the well-being of all of its citizens, and not individual interests.
Discussion paper available here (only in local language) ⟶ 2015.-2025. – Evropski put Bosne i Hercegovine
Foreign Policy Initiative BH, organized the second meeting of National PAR Working Group in BiH in Sarajevo, 25.10.2017. The meeting is organized as part of the regional WeBER project, financed by European Commission and co-financed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Representatives of 23 civil society organizations from BiH, which form the NWG for monitoring of Public Administration Reform on local level in BiH took part in the meeting.
Previous results and achievements as well as future plans for activities within WeBER project were presented. Furthermore, OCDs which were awarded grants within the project presented their activities and future plans. Through discussion and familiarization with activities within their local communities, representatives of NWG concluded that it is necessary to further educate public servants on local and cantonal level about PAR. They also underlined that it is necessary to explain the process of PAR to the citizens and present them what a reformed public service should bring to them (efficient and professional administration, simpler procedures, no long queues, budget spending and public service recruitment transparency, etc).
In the afternoon session, Senior Expert Associate for Public Relations of PARCO in BiH, Vedrana Faladžić presented the activities of PARCO in BiH and invited the representatives of CSOs to actively participated in public consultations which are to be held in Sarajevo and Banja Luka. Aneta Raić, Head of the Unit for Donor Coordination, Finances, Monitoring and Evaluation spoke about the next step and plans of PARCO BiH.