Bottom-up or Top-down-How to Move Euro-Atlantic Integration Forward in the Minds of the People in the Western Balkans

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By focusing on the current transformation process, mobilization of public opinion and state of regional cooperation the workshop brought diverse views in terms of country situation and solutions. In most countries, the current governments are finding populist solutions to complex economic and social problems, which bring votes but little promise of profound structural change. In this, media play an important role and its role in the process of transformation should be more closely monitored and studied. On the other hand, Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), which is the successor of the Stability Pact for SEE, has been presented as a positive example of regional ownership and cooperation.

Participants agreed that Euro-Atlantic integration is the common goal of all countries and that there is no alternative to this agenda.

The role of civil society in this process was also discussed. Ms, Sonja Licht, Director of Balkan Fund for Political Excellence reflected on the civil society role in Serbia and her personal role in bringing about democratic change in her country. She stressed that while civil society was able to bring about change, the challange still remain in its implementation. Moreover, some mistakes were made as the rule of law should have been the underlying condition for any kind of transformation process especially privatization. The challenge for the civil society now remains in two areas. First is the need to return ethics into politic and second to build a strong state (in the sense of public institutions) as a precondition for a strong civil society.

His Excellency, Mr. Philip Reeker, the Ambassador of the USA in Macedonia addressed the participants with a presentation of the support of the US for civil society in Macedonia. The US have invested in civil society development in all countries in the region. In Macedonia, the US have so far supported projects in different areas in altogether investment of 40 million USD. The Ambassador stressed the need for a development of a strong civil society, which should be the motor and partner of transformation and change.

The workshop was organized by the International Center for Democratic Transition (ICDT) from Budapest, and the Forum Center for Strategic Research and Documentation, Skopje.

 

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