The first workshop of the Project “Introduction to the Lisbon Treaty for the Members and Staff of the BiH Parliaments”

Lisabonski sporazum uvodi važne inovacije u način donošenja odluka u EU. Međutim, zbog širokog spektra domaćih političkih pitanja koja dominiraju u BiH, utjecaju Lisabonskog sporazuma na EU i na države potencijalne kandidate za članstvo u EU nije posvećeno dovoljno pažnje. Stoga je cilj ovog projekta da pruži detaljan pregled ključnih promjena koje su uvedene u načinu na koji funkcioniše EU kroz Lisabonski sporazum.

The Foreign Policy Initiative BH has begun with the implementation of the Project “Introduction to the Lisbon Treaty for the Members and Staff of the BiH Parliaments” financed by the British Embassy in Sarajevo. The first workshop was held on 30th and 31st of March 2011, on topic “Introduction to the Lisbon Treaty” where the participants of the workshop were Members of Parliament and expert staff of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska, the Parliament of the Federation of BiH as well as the BiH Parliamentary Assembly. For this occasion, the FPI BH had prepared a Guide through the Lisbon Treaty and European integration of BiH, as well as an Address Book of the European integration.

The Lisbon Treaty introduces important innovations into decision-making process in the EU. However, due to wide spectrum of local political issues dominating in BiH, the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on the EU and potential EU membership candidate states was not given sufficient attention. Therefore, it is the goal of this Project to offer detailed overview of key changes that were introduced through the Lisbon Treaty into the manner in which the EU functions.

For that purpose, four seminars/workshops are planned, which will encompass presentations on key areas of international development: widening of the field of the common decision making between the European Parliament and the Council; the new role of the state parliaments within the scope of the new provisions of the Treaty; the change in the manner of presiding over the EU with the creation of the permanent President of the EU; the new architecture of managing the EU which comes from the changed role of the High Representative and the established European External Action Service.

Kamingespräch “Germany in Bosnia and Herzegovina – from intention to initiative”

On March 24th 2011, Foreign Policy Initiative BH held the third in a series of events which will focus on different aspects of BiH foreign policy, based on a concept of Kamingespräch (fireside chat).This is a German concept of casual fireside conversations about current affairs, meant to create an enabling atmosphere for open exchange of opinions between experts, diplomats and civil society representatives. The subject of the third meeting was on German foreign policy which was previously reported on by FPI in our policy analysis entitled “Germany in Bosnia and Herzegovina – from intention to intiative”.

The stability of the Balkans is one of central issues of both German and European foreign and security politics. The classical view resting on Croatia and Serbia as supporting pillars of the stability in the Balkans must be reviewed regarding the fact that the weight of the Balkan problems proved to be too heavy for merely two pillars, especially if one bears in mind that a great number of these problems are loosely connected to one or both of them.

The readiness of one of the main powers in Europe and the world to become involved in BiH and focus its actions on the removal of barriers to the functioning of BiH as a future EU candidate is something that is worth giving a chance. We believe that the German understanding of the crisis in BiH has evolved and Germany has now finally accepted the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a specific state, to a great extent due to international involvement, and as such cannot be helped exclusively by imposing the conditions for stabilisation and association.
German intentions cannot become an initiative without a strong synergy with key partners. The German initiative, if it ever comes to pass, must have in mind that BiH can no longer be the subject of experiments.

If Zagreb and Belgrade are not ready to play a more constructive role, it would be better if they excluded themselves from the process and let those whose “club” they want to join run the process.
FPI BiH plans to continue organising similar events in future, focusing on the situation in the Middle East, German foreign policy in BiH, and other topics relevant to profiling BiH foreign policy. Discussions will be substantiated by analytical reports which will be written by our experts and associates and published on our webpage.

Kamingespräch “Revolt in Arab Countries – Change or Mere Promises“

On March 17th 2011, Foreign Policy Initiative BH held the second in a series of events which will focus on different aspects of BiH foreign policy, based on a concept of Kamingespräch (fireside chat).This is a German concept of casual fireside conversations about current affairs, meant to create an enabling atmosphere for open exchange of opinions between experts, diplomats and civil society representatives. The subject of the second meeting was on the social and political unrest in the Arab countries which was previously reported on by FPI in our policy analysis entitled “Revolt in Arab Countries – Change or Mere Promises”

The social and political unrest that began at the start of 2011, involving hundreds of thousands of citizens of Arab countries, is nowhere near an end. The demands of the protestors have been wide and varied: change of government and ruler, fundamental constitutional, political and economic reforms, democratisation, observance of human rights and freedoms and demands for substantial reconsideration of the international political and geostrategic positions of states and governments and the overall concept and methods of realisation of various interests in the region.

Is the West at present ready, willing and able and is it structured politically and economically as to be able to start reassessing the artificial yet widespread ‘democracy or security’dilemma pertaining to‘the rest of the world’? There are many reasons to believe that this is where the key to securing more prosperous future for everyone in the Middle East is to be found.

FPI BiH plans to continue organising similar events in future, focusing on the situation in the Middle East, German foreign policy in BiH, and other topics relevant to profiling BiH foreign policy. Discussions will be substantiated by analytical reports which will be written by our experts and associates and published on our webpage.

Presentation: “The State Aid Requirements under the Stabilization and Accession Agreement between BiH and the EU”

First presentation, in a number of presentations organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative BH (FPI BH) and with the support of the Open Society Fund, was held on March 4th 2011, with the topic “The State Aid Requirements under the Stabilization and Accession Agreement between BiH and the EU”, analysis of which was previously made by the FPI BH.

The adoption of the national State Aid Law and the establishment of a national State aid institution for planning and control of State aid at the state level is necessary, in the period of time leading to the BiH membership in the EU in order for BiH to acquire comprehensive insight into categories, amounts and purposes of State aid granted at different levels of government in order to identify priorities, make analysis of State aid effects and strategically coordinate the industry and development policies of the state, which, according to the current constitutional set-up are shared jurisdictions of the three different levels of government.

With that goal, BiH must make the following steps:

• The BiH Parliament should – immediately – adopt the State Aid Law which already exists in a form of a proposal.

• Based on adopted Law, the B&H Council of Ministers should establish an independent body for State aid control by the end of 2011, which is to be responsible for deciding on recovery of unlawfully granted State supports when the time comes pursuant to deadlines from SAA. This body will, by then, be helping the entity, canton and Brčko District institutions to harmonise the practices of giving their subsidies with the European standards, starting from the year 2012.

• The BiH Council of Ministers should – immediately – adopt the annual Report on State Aid in B&H and pass it to European Commission, thus fulfilling its reporting obligation under the SAA.

• By July 2013, BiH and the European Commission should undertake mapping of State aid in order to assess the need for different State aid maximum limits in different parts of BiH before expiration of the status of a considerably underdeveloped country (July 2014), which provides for the application of the minimal limitations in terms of the intensity of State aid.

• By July 2012 the latest, BiH should establish a comprehensive inventory of existing State aid in B&H and an independent operational body with competence for control and approximation of such aid with EU norms, which should start operating by 2012;

• The Coordination Committee for Economic Development and European Integrations the BiH Council of Ministers the Entity governments and Government of Brcko District coordinate in the making of a study on State Aid Mapping in line with the deadlines from SAA.

• The BiH Council of Ministers should apply with the European Commission for funding under IPA funds for technical support projects aimed at supporting the development of a State aid system.

Kamingespräch

On February 16th 2011, Foreign Policy Initiative BH held the first in a series of events which will focus on different aspects of BiH foreign policy, based on a concept of Kamingespräch (fireside chat). This is a German concept of casual fireside conversations about current affairs, meant to create an enabling atmosphere for open exchange of opinions between experts, diplomats and civil society representatives.

The subject of the first meeting was BiH Presidency of the UN Security Council during January 2011 which was previously reported on by FPI in our policy analysis entitled ”The non-permanent membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the United Nations Security Council 2010 – 2011: Challenges of the January 2011 Presidency “.

In the pleasant atmosphere of the Sports Club “Una“, the BiH Ambassador to the UN, H.E. Mr. Ivan Barbalic, conveyed his direct experiences from the January Presidency of the UN Security Council, referred to other aspects of the non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council and spoke about future commitments during the remaining 10 months of membership. Representatives of the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Presidency staff, Ambassadors of Germany, Turkey, Slovenia and Austria, as well representatives of the UK, Swiss, and Chinese embassies commented on the successful Presidency of the UN Security Council. It was also an opportunity to discuss the broader impact of this experience on BiH foreign policy and establishment of more effective internal mechanisms of coordination and communication.

FPI BiH plans to continue organising similar events in future, focusing on the situation in the Middle East, German foreign policy in BiH, and other topics relevant to profiling BiH foreign policy. Discussions will be substantiated by analytical reports which will be written by our experts and associates and published on our webpage.

Presentation of the Comparative Report for 2009 under the Project “Monitoring of the BiH European Integration Processes”

FPI BH presented the Comparative Report on the Monitoring of the EU Integration 2009: Western Balkans – Bosnia and Herzegovina. Uneven progress in the Western Balkan countries and BiH is second to last. In BiH 85% of the interviewees supports the EU integration and finds that the government’s activities for the realization of the necessary reforms are insufficient.

The European Union Institute for Security Studies, in cooperation with the Foreign Policy Initiative BH, organized a seminar in Sarajevo from 19th to 21st of May 2010 entitled “The Western Balkans: the Path to European Integration”.

The conclusion was that the EU Integration Process is a means for the creation of functioning states, but that the mechanisms of the Process are not suitable for the states that have problems in functioning and creating political consensus. That is why further incentive by the EU is necessary in order to eliminate the influence of the rhetoric of the past and to further encourage regional cooperation which has proven to be possible, useful and desirable for all of the Western Balkan countries. European Union is built on future and not on past, and that is why it still has very strong appeal, because it advocates unity within diversity. The rule of law is the basis for achieving the values of the EU, and the civil society needs to be empowered in the coordination of activities on advocating reform processes.

In the panel chaired by the Swedish Ambassador in BiH, H.E. Mr. Bosse Hedberg, the Director of the FPI BH, Ms. Denisa Sarajlić-Maglić presented the Comparative Report on the Monitoring of the EU Integration 2009: Western Balkans – Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a special focus on how BiH is ranked in that process, when compared to the other countries form the region.

Uneven progress was achieved in the countries of the region, and the best results were achieved by the countries with stabile governments, majority in the Parliament and functional political system. The common weaknesses are insufficient levels of fight against corruption, respect of human rights, functioning of judiciary and bilateral cooperation. In the majority of areas BiH is second to last in obligation fulfilment, in front of Albania, including the visa liberalization issue, while Croatia is the leader in this process. The public opinion poll conducted in December indicates that the citizens think that the government’s activities for conducting the reforms are insufficient; they mainly blame the local politicians for that. Close to 85% of the BiH citizens finds that the future of BiH is in the EU and that there is no alternative to that. Citizens in both entities share that view. Close to 75% of the interviewees in the entity F BiH and 45% in the entity RS are prepared to support the transfer of competences from the entities to the BiH state if that is to speed up the road towards the EU. At the same time, 55% of the interviewees believe that the EU citizens wish to see BiH as an EU member country in the future.

Enlargement policy is the baseline of the EU external policy. A clear political message is expected from the upcoming gathering of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the EU member countries in Sarajevo that will reaffirm the Thessalonica Declaration and the Copenhagen Criteria, and re-evaluate the system of additional conditioning of potential candidates and candidates for EU membership. Enabling further steps towards the EU would be a positive impulse for the public of the region as well as for the administrations of the aspiring countries.

FPI BH in Cooperation with the BiH Euro Info Centres Informs the Citizens on the European Integration Process

The FPI BH associates on the Project of “Monitoring of the BiH European Integration Process” held a series of lectures in Zvornik, Mostar and Brčko in cooperation with the Euro Info Centers in Tuzla, Mostar and Brčko.

PRESENTATION “CRITICAL REVIEW ON THE SAA IMPLEMENTATION” HELD IN BRČKO

Brčko, 18 November 2009 – In accordance with its basic mission aimed towards informing the public of the EU integrations and BiH Government activities on fulfilling the commitments taken over from the SAA, the Euro Information Centre Brčko; in cooperation with Civil Society Centre Kyodo Sarajevo, Faculty of Economy Brčko, and the Department for European Integrations of Brčko District BiH Government; organized a presentation on the topic “Critical Review on the Stabilization and Association Agreement“.

The presentation of Mr. Erol Mujanovic from the Foreign Policy Initiative BH from Sarajevo was attended by numerous members of the academic community, students, local business people and politicians. The conclusion of those present there was clear – progress in implementing the reforms connected with the European Integrations is on a very low level precisely because the BiH political leaders can not find a consensus on basic reform priorities. Participants’ conclusion was that only small progress was made in the aria of respecting the human rights, and the obligation of constitutional reforms is reduced to adopting amendments relating to BiH Brčko District.

The message from this gathering was that establishing a legal frame for political fight against corruption, better education, and better sorted public health system, are some of the most important tasks of the BiH leaders, if the state wishes to get closer to the EU.

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“THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EURO-ATLANTIC INTEGRATIONS AND THE CURRENT STATE OF JOINING THE EU”

Mostar, 10. November, 2009 – Within the frame of its activities, the Euro Center Mostar organized a lecture on the topic of “The Importance of the Euro-Atlantic Integrations and the Current State of Joining the EU” which was held on Monday, 9 November, 2009 in the premises of the Faculty of Law of Mostar University.

The Vice-dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. dr. Vesna Kazazić, on behalf of the Euro Info Centre and the Faculty, introduced the lecturer, Mr. Davor Vuletić, the Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), and expressed her gratitude for the preparedness to approximate the information on the Integrations and the term “Western Balkans” in such a manner, to students and undergraduates.

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YOUTH PERSPECTIVES IN PERIPHERAL AND RURAL ENVIRONMENTS IN THE CONTEXT OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION ASSOCIATION PROCESS”

Tuzla, 6 November, 2009 – On 5 November, 2009, in the International Youth Centre Križevci near Zvornik, the Euro Info Centre Tuzla, as part of its activities, organized a conference on the topic of “Youth Perspectives in Peripheral and Rural Environments in the Context of European Integration Association Process” in order to identify the problem the young people meet in rural and peripheral areas in BiH and find possible solutions to them within the context of the European Integration Association Process.

The lecturers, Ms. Anamarija Magazinović, representative of the Foreign Policy Initiative, spoke of local and rural development in accordance with the implementation of the SAA as well as of the development components and application possibilities from the IPA Program; Docent dr. Ismet Sejfija, professor at the Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo, Ševal Šehić, coordinator of the Križevci Youth Centre, and Đorđe Radanović, the President of the Youth European Movement in BiH spoke of the position of young people in rural environments as well as of problems and possibilities of rural development in BiH.

Conference participants; representatives of youth NGOs from all parts of BiH, representatives of the OSCE and development agencies ”Nerda” and “Bospo” as well as the representatives of the municipal governments that further scientific and expert researches, that will provide the empiric base for situation assessment and village and peripheral development planning, are necessary.