The fifth meeting of the National Working Group (NWG) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) in BiH

On the Zoom platform, 22/7/2020 the fifth meeting of the National Working Group (NWG*) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) in BiH was held. This was the first meeting of the working group in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the new WeBER2.0 project. At the meeting, Mahir Sijamija, VPI BH Project Officer, announced and presented the new program of small grants for civil society organizations. After that, Anida Šabanović, director of VPI BH and Haris Ćutahija, researcher of VPI BH, held a presentation on the topic “European consultations with citizens: introduction and presentation of methods”. The meeting ended with a discussion on the implementation and priorities of public administration reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the status and activities of civil society organizations involved.

The event brought together representatives of civil society, as well as experts in the field of public administration reform.

*NWG is a national consultative mechanism between representatives of civil society and relevant state authorities in creation and monitoring of the PAR process in Western Balkan countries. NWGs were established in each of these countries as a part of a wider regional WeBER platform.

Analysis Presentation “Energy Geopolitics in the Balkans – Geopolitics and European integration of the Western Balkans”

Foreign Policy Initiative BH and Friedrich Ebert Foundation, organized the presentation of the political analysis “Energy Geopolitics in the Balkans – Geopolitics and European Integration of the Western Balkans” by prof. dr. Seada Turčalo in a somewhat different way due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The presentation was filmed at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Sarajevo in video format of TV show, where the host talked to our panelists who gave their review of the author’s manuscript. The video content that you can watch here will also be distributed to TV stations and other electronic media.

Apart from the author, the presentation was attended by prof. dr. Ešref Kenan Rašidagić from the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Sarajevo, Amer Kapetanović from the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and doc. dr. Klarić Sanela Member of the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament who spoke on behalf of Green Council.

The energy sector and energy policies and strategies may be analyzed through different approaches: economic, environmental, geopolitical and other approaches. This analysis will focus on the geopolitical approach. In this approach, countries and actors that could be referred to as unitary or unitary-like actors have a decisive influence in the energy sector. The geopolitical approach to energy issues, or energy geopolitics, is inextricably associated with energy security, which within this approach is the primary goal of any energy policy; unlike the economic or environmental approaches, which favor issues of sustainability, competitiveness, etc.

The geopolitical approach primarily observes the geographical position of a particular country or region from the perspective of the location of energy resources it needs: analyzing their accessibility, the actors that control those resources, their price, existing and alternative transport routes, relations in the regional and global markets, market mechanisms and the regulatory framework that may influence the behavior of actors, availability and management of own energy resources, as well as political decisions and the manner and framework within which they are made.

The analysis is available here.

Governments in the WB still do not provide adequate information on their achievements

First results from PAR Monitor 2019/2020

In the policy development area, PAR Monitor 2019/2020 starts by focusing on the information available to citizens on governmental performance. Evidence shows that citizens of the Western Balkan countries, with the exception of BiH and to a lesser extent North Macedonia, do not have access to basic information about the work of their governments; the level of detail provided in annual governmental work reports is generally substandard to allow proper public scrutiny. Even weaker practices are shown in how understandable and result-oriented these reports are, as well as how regularly the public is informed on the implementation of central planning documents. Continue reading “Governments in the WB still do not provide adequate information on their achievements”

Proactive informing from public authorities is still at a low level in the Western Balkans

First results from PAR Monitor 2019/2020

Worrying trends in the limited proactive information made available to citizens of the Western Balkans by their governments, indicated in the baseline PAR Monitor 2017/2018, have shown little change. Although some online information is easily accessible in most of the countries included, limited open data practices and transparency in annual reporting and budgets, as well as limited citizen-friendliness in the presentation of information, are still common. Continue reading “Proactive informing from public authorities is still at a low level in the Western Balkans”

FPI BH campaign – “EU and BiH?”

 

Foreign Policy Initiative BH last month organized a social network campaign “EU and BiH?” which aimed to actualize the European integration process in Bosnia and Herzegovina because the process is rarely mentioned in public space since BiH got the Opinion on the EU membership application.

“EU and BiH?” campaign consisted of promoting 29 video messages on social networks pages/profiles of Foreign Policy Initiative BH’s pages/profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in which the public figures and representatives of BiH and EU institutions, diplomatic corps, international organizations, NGOs,  academic society and media talked about the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The campaign started with the video of Ambassador Johann Sattler (Head of the EU Delegation and EUSR) on 10th April and was finished on 12th May, with Anida Šabanović, Director of Foreign Policy Initiative BH. Three ambassadors of the EU member states took part in the campaign – Germany, Austria and Sweden. BiH institutions were also represented – by a member of BiH Presidency (Željko Komšić), Foreign Affairs Minister (Bisera Turković), four MPs in the Parliamentary Assembly (Saša Magazinović, Nikola Lovrinović, Šemsudin Mehmedović and Branislav Borenović), Public Administration Reform Office Coordinator (Dragan Ćuzulan) and FBiH Government Office for European Integration Director (Vjekoslav Čamber). We also had video messages from Drahoslav Stefanek – Special Representative for Migrations and Refugees of Council of Europe, Amer Kapetanović from Regional Cooperation Council and Nermin Kujović from Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Adnan Ćerimagić, Faruk Hadžić and Denis Čarkadžić, analysts, also took part in the campaign. Civil society was represented by Leila Bičakčić (CIN), Jasmina Pašalić (FPI BH), Adis Muhović (CPU), Ismail Šehić (BRAVO Foundation) and Rasim Ibrahimagić (Initiative for Monitoring the European Integration of BiH). Academic society was represented by Nedžma Džananović Miraščija (University of Sarajevo) and Dženeta Karabegović (University of Salzburg). Representing the media, we had video messages of Brankica Smiljanić (Al Jazeera) and Senad Dorić (HEMA TV). And finally, we also had a video of Amna Popovac, entrepreneuress and activist.

You can watch the video messages below:

 

 

 

FOREIGN POLICIES OF THE WB6 – ALIGNMENT WITH THE EU?

Foreign Policy Initiative BH and Friedrich Ebert Foundation, on Saturday, 25 April 2020 organized an online presentation of political analysis “FOREIGN POLICIES OF THE WB6 – ALIGNMENT WITH THE EU?” by prof. dr. Nedžma Džananović Miraščija.

During the presentation, Nedžma Džananović Miraščija stated that all six Western Balkans countries have very clearly made EU membership one of their foreign policy priorities, and therefore the alignment and approximation obligation does not seem particularly demanding or incompatible with the established national interests in any of these countries. It also appears quite logical to continue building diplomatic and bureaucratic capacities for EU membership, since this is a major prerequisite for accessing the rights and meeting the obligations that EU membership entails. The European Union uses these conditions to test the political and symbolic commitment of these countries; their cooperativeness in terms of coordination and joint action; as well as their willingness to make continuous investment in the development of specific diplomatic and bureaucratic capacities to deal with the broader international context.

The main objective of this analysis was to determine whether, to what extent, and in what way the WB6 countries have been fulfilling this portion of the political criteria, and to identify the factors and actors that influence the greater or lesser degree of the alignment achieved. Alignment with EU foreign policy in specific international circumstances is also a clear indicator of whether the declared foreign policy priorities of the WB6 countries are genuine, while illustrating at the same time the transformative and structural foreign policy power of the EU in this area, in particular in comparison to other actors present in the region in different capacities.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation, Khaldoun Sinno, at the opening said that the EU treats the region differently than the other countries because that see the Wester Balkan countries as part of the EU in future. “However, on that path we have expectations: EU needs to see the motivation from leaders to deliver. There is no doubt that EU is here to help”, concluded Sinno.

At the panel which was held as a part of the conference, Jasmin Hasić, advisor in Ministry of Foreign Affairs BiH and one of the panelists, stated that we need to continue communicating on this matter. “Foreign affairs issues in BiH academically and in practical-institutional terms have somewhat subsided and dialogue is needed to revive them”, concluded Hasić. Adi Ćerimagić of the European Stability Initiative (ESI) said that our positive awareness of change is very strong “The historically important message of a few days ago is that the Western Balkan countries can do a lot together, an example being the letter from the foreign ministers of the countries they sent to the EU. This is one of the positive changes and awareness of joint action.” Senada Šelo-Šabić from the Institute for Development and International Relations (Zagreb, Croatia) stated that we are the creators of our own happiness and life. “Once we have that awareness, then it will be easier to understand and change the world,” Šelo-Šabić concluded.

The presentation was moderated by Hana Sokolović, reporter and host at N1 television. Representatives from other countries also gave their comments: Sena Marić, project manager and senior researcher at the European Policy Centre (CEP) Belgrade, prof. dr. Gordana Djurovic – President of the Montenegrin Pan-European Union and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Integration of Montenegro, Ambassador Andrej Lepavcov, Former Ambassador of Northern Macedonia to the European Union, Ambassador Osman Topcagic, President of the Pan-European Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former BiH Ambassador to the EU and Great Britain, former director of DEI.

The presentation was attended by representatives of civil society organizations, academic community, relevant institutions, resident embassies and missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the media.

The analysis is available here.

 

 

FPI BH CAMPAIGN: How transparently the BiH institutions are informing the public in COVID-19 pandemic era?

In democratic societies, the government operates for the benefit of its citizens and works together with the citizens. One of the values of a democratic order of a country is the transparency of work of its administrative structures, as well as full respect of the inalienable rights of its citizens.

Proactive transparency and free access to information are the basic methods of communication between a state and its citizens. In order to build the citizen’s trust in the administration, the administration needs to be transparent, its work needs to be visible and understandable to the citizens, because in that way the possibility of corruption and abuse of power is reduced, and the citizens are enabled to take active participation in decision making processes.

Since the beginning of April, the Foreign Policy Initiative BH has been campaigning on social networks on how transparently the BiH institutions are informing the public in COVID-19 pandemic era. The published infographics cover relevant state and entity level institutions.

With this campaign, the Foreign Policy Initiative BH wanted to show the citizens that the institutions’ websites exist because of them and that they have the right (but also the obligation) to monitor the work of the institutions as well as the way the public is being informed.

The aim was also to motivate citizens to seek the necessary and verified information from the competent institutions and to find out for themselves whether this is possible and to what extent.

Foreign Policy Initiative BH among the Top 100 think-tank organization in Central and Eastern Europe second year in a row

We are proud to inform you that the Foreign Policy Initiative BH is again among the Top 100 think-tank organization in Central and Eastern Europe! FPI BH is on the 89th position at the 2019 Go To Think Tank Report published by the University of Pennsylvania.

Our regional think-tank network, TEN – Think for Europe Network, where FPI BH is a member is on the 34th position for the best think-tank networks in the world.

You can find the 2019 Go To Think Tank Report Index – https://bit.ly/3bjSutK

Official announcement: WeBER 2.0 has begun!

We are proud to inform you that the WeBER Project has received financial support from the European Commission for its continuation and that in the next three years we will continue our work toward reformed public administrations in the Western Balkans.

Six organisations from the Western Balkans, members of the Think for Europe – TEN Network (European Policy Centre – CEP BelgradeInstitute for Democracy and Mediation – IDM TiranaInsititute Alternative – IA Podgorica, Foreign Policy Initiative – FPI SarajevoGroup for Legal and Political Studies – GLPS PristinaEuropean Policy Initiative – EPI Skopje) coordinated by the European Policy Centre – CEP Belgrade, in partnership with the European Policy Centre – EPC from Brussels, and with financial support from the European Commission, will continue their work with a goal to further empower civil society organisations in the Western Balkans to engage in the design and implementation of public administration reform in line with the requirements in the EU accession process.

Guided by the SIGMA Principles, WeBER has pioneered an evidence-based civil society approach to monitoring the governments’ progress in PAR based on EU requirements. It has also built bottom-up reform demand by creating a regional WeBER Platform for PAR dialogue and by empowering CSOs through capacity building and consultation events and meetings. This has laid down foundations for the continuous involvement of civil society in PAR, relying on the regional approach and regionally comparable WeBER monitoring results.

Under the new name, Western Balkan Civil Society Empowerment for a Reformed Public Administration, the WeBER 2.0 design relies on the results of WeBER and published PAR Monitor reports. WeBER 2.0 continues the intervention logic developed and proven effective in the first project, namely that the creation of regional and local pressure and demand for PAR compliant with EU requirements/principles is the best (and perhaps only) way to ensure long-term effectiveness of the EU’s conditionality in this area and keep these reforms on track even beyond the point of achievement of EU membership by the WB countries.

The impact that WeBER 2.0 intends to create is an empowered civil society, armed with knowledge, skills and tools to monitor PAR and hold their national and local governments to account for the quality of policies they develop, services they provide and the overall management of the state and local governments and administrations.

WeBER 2.0 has begun in December 2019 and will last until  December 2022.

Human Rights Defenders in the Western Balkans

The position of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Western Balkans is increasingly precarious. Across the region, HRDs and organisations, as well as independent media outlets, are prone to intimidation, threats, smear campaigns, digital and physical attacks, and an overall disregard by national authorities.

While the region shares several common features (sluggish integration, weak rule of law, intimidation of HRDs, limited democratisation, lack of press freedoms etc.), naturally each country faces specific challenges and the protection of human rights has unique consequences, depending on local contexts.

As such, this report published by CRD has been compiled by experts from each of the six Western Balkan states, who have extensively researched the challenges and position of HRDs in the region, and offered a broad range of recommendations to national authorities, the international community, media and HRDs themselves. Having interviewed 100 HRDs for the purpose of this report, it represents one of the most prolific and detailed on-the-ground studies of their position in the Western Balkans, on a country-by-country basis.

Anida Šabanović from FPI BH participated in preparing the report “Human Rights Defenders in the Western Balkans” ,which can be found here.