Open Call for Expression of Interest
A joint initiative of ERSTE Foundation: the organizer of the Civil Society Forum in Vienna last year and hub of further civil society activities of the process; European Fund for the Balkans: regional initiative strengthening democracy, fostering European integration and promoting the role of the Balkans in addressing Europe’s challenge In cooperation with: European Movement in Serbia - Novi Sad and Centre for Regionalism Supported by: Regional Cooperation Council We would most kindly like to invite interested civil society organisations from the Western Balkans to express their interest in participating at the Civil Society Forum Belgrade and to apply by sending us a short overview/portfolio (see the application form) of their activities in one of the four key topics which will be subject of discussion (youth cooperation; migration/border crisis; bilateral disputes; environmental/climate change and green growth). Due to limited capacities and our intention to have a more inclusive approach in regard to the representation of civil society activists and organisations from the region, we can ask only a limited number of participants to join this meeting. Besides those organisations who will be invited based on their previous engagement in the process, the rest of the guests will have the chance for participation on a first come first serve basis. All travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the organisers.
Context and objectives
At the last Western Balkans Summit in Vienna in August 2015, a Civil Society Forum was held for the first time to dialogue with the leaders’ summit. Political decision makers came to dialogue with civil society, and a civil society representative was able to join the leaders’ summit. Various civil society organisations gathered around this initiative with the desire to develop a common position when it comes to following the footsteps of the first Berlin Summit 2014 and to construct a sustainable platform for civil society to cooperate and develop a dialogue with political leaders and governments. The Civil Society Forum Belgrade intends to continue to contribute to the greater role, visibility and impact of the civil society in the so-called “Berlin process”. The May 2016 meeting will build on the work already done by following the Vienna Civil Society Forum held in August 2015 and RCC’s Regional Cooperation Day in Sarajevo in December 2015. Heading towards the Western Balkans Paris Summit in early July 2016, it is legitimate to ask how civil society from the region can contribute to the continuation and promotion of this important initiative. The main aim of it is to establish a sustainable and relevant second-track process as a common WB-EU platform dedicated to the challenges in the Western Balkans, but first and foremost to broader European cohesion, which has to be co-shaped by the civil society, policy community, media and other relevant stakeholders. Aiming to contribute to the enlargement process and to future Western Balkans Summits, the Forum series will not only continue following the dynamics of the annual summits, but also develop a process relevant beyond these summits. The Civil Society Forum intends to become a relevant segment for European and regional governments and politicians and urge them to maintain closer cooperation with civil society in the future. The Forum in May is structured throughout two layers: We will kick off with a broad public debate with renowned European politicians and representatives of the regional civil society on the first evening. This will be followed next day with a joint attempt– supported by leading policy experts and members of the European Parliament – to define a realistic mechanism for fostering further dialogue between civil society and regional governments in the framework of our common European future. This will lead to formulating key messages concerning the main topics of the Paris Summit which are: youth cooperation, migration/border crisis, bilateral disputes and environmental/climate change and green growth agenda. These key topics will be discussed in focused thematic workshops on May 13th while the broader issue of civil society participation and dialogue in the EU accession process will be addressed in a public discussion during the first evening (May 12th). The conclusions of our meeting will serve as a basis for formulating a set of messages that will be officially communicated at the Western Balkans Paris Summit. Application Deadline: Thursday noon, 21st April 2016 Please fill the application at the following link.