Civil Society Forum Prishtina 2017

This time the Civil Society Forum took place in Prishtina. With the Berlin Process coming to a preliminary end in 2018, stakeholders from civil society from the Western Balkans came together in Kosovo, so discuss the next steps. At the center of the debates was the question: How can we improve the involvement and impact of civil society in the region regarding national positions and regional cooperation?

Instead of focusing on new recommendations, this Forum took a step back to reflect on the civil society consultations so far.

The regional forum brought together participants from all Western Balkan countries as well as other stakeholders from Southeast Europe and the European Union. For two days, a variety of issues has been discussed in agoras, panels and working groups. The Civil Society Forum particularly focused on reflecting on the previous convergences of civil society. The goal was to evaluate and critically review the process itself along with the topics it tackled.

Some of the key demands discussed in the forum were a more inclusive and effective cooperation between civil society in the region, where it was deduced that communication of the summits’ results must improve, as key stakeholders learn about the decisions from the summits only very late. Furthermore, the participants concluded that the participating governments should ensure that important decisions are communicated to civil society in each country respectively.

One looming aspect in the discussion was also the issue that civil society meetings should not just stick to the topics as foreseen in the Summits, but should rather be viewed as opportunities for agenda setting.

The participation in gatherings of civil society and their organization needs to be carefully planned and coordinated. Only a process in which organizers and participants put the agenda and the issues of civil society from the region before individual influence and power, can be sustainable and have an impact. Part of being involved in the Berlin Process means, enabling citizens to understand its general meaning.  Therefore, one of the demands in the Forum this time was also democratic “literacy” of citizens, as to enable the population to lobby for itself.

A video outlining the event can be found here.

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