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The Macedonian Foreign Policy Journal
TOGETHER ON THE PATH TOWARDS EUROPEAN FUTURE
SEECP: Vision of Good-neighbourliness,
Social and Economic Development
Ahmet Davutoğlu, Vesna Pusić, Ivan Mrkić, Igor Lukšić
“Solidarity in Action” – SEECP Motto
Iurie LEANCĂ, Kristalina Georgieva
Seecp as an Instrument for Cooperation and Solidarity
in the Changing International Environment
Special Edition May 2013
The Macedonian Foreign Policy Journal May 2013, Special Edition
Founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia. Filip II Makedonski 7, 1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia www.mfa.gov.mk Previous Editors-in-Chief: Pajo Avirovik, December 2006-April 2008; Zvonimir Popovik, May 2008-December 2009
Editor-in-Chief Vladimir Efremovski Editorial Board: Zuko Rizvanski Shaban Jashari Katerina STAVRESKA Olga Janevska Jovanovik Sejfullah Shaqiri Adviser: Beti KORUNOVSKA
Published by: Macedonian Information Centre (MIC) Dragan ANTONOV, Director N.N. Borce 73, 1000 Skopje Republic of Macedonia
The Macedonian Foreign Policy Journal
SOUTH EAST EUROPEAN COOPERATION PROCESS Macedonian Chairmanship-in-Office 2012-2013
Special Edition May 2013
Solidarity in Action
Nikola Poposki “SEECP: Vision of Good-neighbourliness, Social and Economic Development, Walking together the Path towards European Future” . . . . . . 5
SEECP: Vision of Good-neighbourliness, Social and Economic Development
Ahmet Davutoğlu A FORWARD LOOKING VISION FOR THE BALKANS THROUGH THE PRISM OF THE SOUTH EAST EUROPEAN COOPERATION PROCESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Vesna Pusić I believe the results are visible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Ivan Mrkić enlargement policy is one of the Union’s most important instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Igor Lukšić SEECP ENABLED US TO STRENGTHEN STABILITY AND EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE . . . . . . . 27
“Solidarity in Action” – SEECP Motto
Iurie LEANCĂ “Solidarity in Action” – SEECP motto fit for the Region . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Kristalina Georgieva The SEECP and EU civil protection: Solidarity in action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
“SEECP as an Instrument for Cooperation and Solidarity in the Changing International Environment
Karl Erjavec THE SOUTH EAST EUROPEAN COOPERATION PROCESS AS AN INSTRUMENT FOR COOPERATION AND SOLIDARITY IN THE CHANGING INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4 South East European Cooperation Process
H.E. Mr. Nikola Poposki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia
“SEECP: Vision of Good-neighbourliness, Social and Economic Development, Walking Together the Path Towards European Future” 5
“SEECP: Vision of Good-neighbourliness, Social and Economic Development, Walking Together the Path Towards European Future”
Some thoughts on regional cooperation
your next door neighbours. This is even more evident for smaller countries. Challenges exist there as everywhere. However, open, cool-headed, argumented dialogue does help, as does mutual interaction. Focusing on the future and the common interests of countries, rather than on divisive positions and sticking to collision courses are some of the tested recipes. It seems that this works in that region to the point of having a joint cross-border supranational airline. A very delicate area. Unthinkable still in the SEE context.
his is likely the most inspiring and challenging topic to write on. Especially when one comes from the southeast part of Europe...Regional cooperation - as you have rightfully presumed. A short break and afterwards I look through an airplane window. Below is the North Sea. Further to the right, there are lands I always gladly visit, even in winter time. That region sets benchmarks in many respects. Among them is the present topic. Still, just think about these countries: Some of them are in NATO, others are not. Some of them are in the EU, others are not. Some of them were empires, others have been ruled. Some of them use the euro, others do not. Some of them are rich with natural resources, others are not. Some understand each other, others do not. Some are monarchies, others are not... In policy-making terms, perhaps this is not the most compact group of countries. Still, their decisions allow them to grow ever more integrated. And there is a reason why. The official agendas of these countries rank regional meetings and initiatives right on the top. This is their priority. They are all very open economies and interact globally. But they have understood that in order to influence the world, you need rock-solid relations with
We in the SEE also cooperate, with hopefully rising enthusiasm
Differences in our peer regional organization naturally exist. Among others, in GDP per capita terms. Some claim that wealth is essential. Some are in favour of first fixing the misperceptions and favouring engagement with neighbours. This indeed is not related to wealth. Either way, there are things we can do better in the SEE. Our joint engine driving us forward is the wish to integrate all the countries of the Region in the European peace and stability project. It is the best recipe for us to put any bilateral differences in a perspective, enabling us to focus on what brings us together.
6 South East European Cooperation Process
We have approached the SEECP Chairmanship with a wish to push forward a few concrete projects that link us across borders. The trio with our Serbian and Romanian friends worked well on many topics, including the following: Cultural cooperation has been one of the priorities of the Macedonian SEECP Chairmanship. Together with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), we have raised and pursued the initiative for creating a network of museums in Southeast Europe, aiming to enhance cross-border cooperation between cultural institutions. We have worked hard to promote and preserve cultural diversities in Southeast Europe. Further efforts have been made with a view to developing the SEECP parliamentary dimension. The 15th anniversary of the Athens Conference was marked by organizing an International Conference and several accompanying events. We believe that the upcoming 10th Conference of Speakers of SEECP Parliaments in Ohrid will be crowned with a decision for the establishment of the SEECP Parliamentary Assembly. We have also tackled the issue of strengthening the institutional dialogue with the European Commission and with EU institutions. The increased level of synergy and cooperation achieved between the SEECP Chairmanship and the RCC has contributed both to the further improvement of the relations among our countries, as well as to the advancement of the relations between the Region and the European Union. In the health care area, we have undertaken activities towards strengthening regional ownership and providing support to the health network in the Southeast European Region. We have inaugurated the Seat of the Southeast European Health Network Secretariat in Skopje. Each of us is aware that: All inclusiveness and regional ownership are the necessary prerequisites if we are to move forward in all these and even more fields of regional cooperation. Progress is visible there, too.
Topic driven Summits
This year, the Republic of Macedonia is commemorating 50 years of the disastrous Skopje earthquake, which destroyed the entire city of Skopje in 1963. In this respect, we are sending an important message, that international solidarity of 50 years ago is still very much present and relevant today and remains a strong element of our regional cooperation. The spirit of solidarity has prevailed in building a stable climate of cooperation among us. Bearing this in mind, we have chosen ‘’Solidarity in Action’’ as the motto of the Macedonian Chairmanship. This motto calls for increased unity and solidarity in the Region. For the first time, the upcoming SEECP Summit of Heads of State or Government will be focused on a topic, which is of crucial regional importance. In the context of the 50 years of the Skopje earthquake and the Solidarity in Action motto, the Summit will address the issue of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Climate change and disaster risk are our today’s reality, posing as well a threat to the future. As we know, risks and disasters recognize no political borders. While taking on board the complexity of these two concepts, we have worked very hard with a view to building a Region more resistant to natural disasters. Our major goal is environmentally clean, safe, secure, prosperous and accessible Region that will ensure better tomorrow for our coming generations. The main outcome of the up-coming Summit is a political commitment to creating a Regional Action Plan that will help foster regional cooperation on this matter. The results of this Summit should be taken as an additional impetus to jointly taking advantage of possibilities for attaining sustainable development in our Region. We believe that the next SEECP Chairmanships (2013-2014), in close cooperation with the SEECP Troika and the Regional Cooperation Council, will persist with the practice of organizing thematic Summits and addressing issues of regional importance.
“SEECP: Vision of Good-neighbourliness, Social and Economic Development, Walking Together the Path Towards European Future” 7
A look around the corner
Finally, the term of one chairmanship is never enough to fulfil the ambitious regional agenda. What matters are countries’ persistence and the coordination across chairmanships. We might not be up to Scandinavian standards yet, but our determination to achieve substantial progress is visible...As is our wish to create synergies through cross-border cooperation. There, we all speak the same language. The European one. Let’s act upon our commitments now. Res, non fabula.
8 South East European Cooperation Process
H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
SEECP: Vision of Goodneighbourliness, Social and Economic Development
A Forward Looking Vision for the Balkans Through the Prism of the South East European Cooperation Process 9
A Forward Looking Vision for the Balkans Through the Prism of the South East European Cooperation Process
s the successful Chairmanship of Macedonia draws to an end, I would like to use this opportunity to share my thoughts on the the South East European Cooperation Process’s (SEECP) future reorganization towards increased cooperation in the Balkans. Despite its short history, SEECP, the unique home-grown initiative in the region, has become a prototypical forum of highlevel dialogue. As such, it provides a perfect conduit for the countries of the region in their quest to emancipate themselves from the bad memories of the 20th century and avoid the danger of being trapped in a vicious cycle of tensions, crises, conflicts and problems that were endemic to that particular era. It is high time for regional countries to reflect on the past years since the establishment of the SEECP and reassess the potential role this process could play in the future of the region. Let me be more clear by asking some questions: What was the joint vision that prompted the Balkan nations to initiate this process? What have been the achievements of the SEECP? What are the factors that render this process a vital component of regional affairs? What are the challenges that must be met for the further development of the SEECP? These are but a few questions that we, as the stakeholders in the creation of a peaceful and stable regional order in the Balkans, have to seriously ponder upon. Despite the argument that the forces of globalization will reduce local differences and facilitate the emergence of a single global society, we are still living in a world of regions where local and regional processes increasingly
gain prominence. The reality of regional or sub-regional cooperation has increasingly become a fact of the 21st century as many nations move towards closer cultural, economic, and political interaction, if not integration, at the regional level. The Balkan region, which traditionally has been referred to as the model of fragmentation and disintegration, now has a chance to emerge as yet another regional order in the making where a culture of cooperation prevails. This essay proposes an alternative vision of furthering regional cooperation around the SEECP, based on a set of methodology and policy principles, in an attempt to stimulate a wider debate on the subject in the intellectual and policy circles in the Balkan region. In particular, this essay outlines the normative bases and policy principles for regional cooperation as the Balkan nations contemplate how to reorganize their institutional architecture in this new era.
SEECP: FROM THE 20th CENTURY INTO THE 21st CENTURY
Although it was established in 1996, close to the end of the 20th century, the SEECP has surely and confidently evolved as an organization that will live up to the unique conditions of the 21st century. It is poised to emerge as an organization that will pave the way forward for the countries in the region as they seek to forge a new future in this region and sharply break with the mentality of the previous century, which was characterized by two world
10 South East European Cooperation Process
wars and a blody regional war in the recent history. The SEECP provides a perfect conduit for the countries of the region in their quest to emancipate themselves from the bad memories of the 20th century and avoid the danger of being trapped in a vicious cycle of tensions, crises, conflicts and problems that were endemic to that particular era. Such a psychological break with the past is a precondition if the regional countries sincerely aspire to see the SEECP evolve as a major organization that will help to shape the future of the Balkans. The quintessential challenge we have to address is how to foster a joint vision that will unite the Balkan countries around common objectives as we prepare to cope with the challenges of the 21st century. Unfortunately, the 20th century was mired in negative memories and the region’s experience in this period was far from being a source of inspiration for our task of preparing for a more peaceful and prosperous future. In the first half of the 20th century, the region witnessed three wars: the Balkan Wars, World War I and World War II. In the second half of the 20th century, there was the long Cold War and the blody Yugoslav wars that stil haunt our memories. These wars, whether hot or cold, drew lines of demarcation in the region and created uncertainties, instabilities and prejudices. The Balkan nations are at a point of critical choice as to whether they will perpetuate the mentality of the previous decades that was based on enmity and conflict or whether they will adopt a new political language that will place an emphasis on shared destiny and cooperation. This new approach can only emerge from a shared understanding about the Balkan people’s expectations for the future of the region. More importantly, such a forward-looking vision implies that we should devote our intellectual efforts to imagine how the Balkans and the SEECP would look like in the decades ahead rather than engaging in useless debates on what happened in the past. At this point, we need to pause and ask ourselves the question of what role we envisage for the region in global affairs in 2020 and beyond. Turkey’s suggestion is to approach this new era as a period of restoration, cooperation, and construction: “Restoration” in the sense of restoring shared cultural, economic and political ties; “Cooperation” in the sense of developing a new spirit of joint action; and “Construction” in the sense of a way to bаoth overcome the legacy of the past decades and respond to the challenges of the new decades to come. These are the preconditions to having a new atmosphere of partnership and a constructive approach for building a peaceful and prosperous era in the region. The remainder of the essay outlines the normative bases and principles which suggest a way forward as we contemplate how to construct this new era in the Balkans. A novel approach should be based on methodology and policy principles. Here, I present three methodology and four policy principles which, in their entirety, might help formulate an approach to regional cooperation in the Balkans.
PRINCIPLES OF METHODOLOGY
The first methodology principle highlights the importance of having a vision-oriented approach as opposed to a crisis-oriented one. The leaders and peoples of the Balkan region still recall the crises, among others, in Bosnia- Herzegovina and Kosovo. A crisis-oriented approach remains fixated on the details of these past crises as they tackle contemporary problems, and as such, they, purposely or not, constantly reproduce the negative legacy of this bitter episode in different contexts. A vision-oriented approach, in contrast, seeks to move beyond these crises and proposes to handle today’s issues with a new framework and a fresh vision. We need to pause and ask ourselves the question of what role we envisage for the region in global affairs in 2020 and beyond. The second methodology principle calls for adopting a forward-looking rather than a backward-looking approach. Societies and leaders interpret and make use of history in various ways. Arguably the most dangerous way is one that conceptualizes history as a burden of the past and a hindrance for the future. It is true that history is what makes the world of today. However, as actors possessing determination and free will, we are not bound by our past legacies as we build our future.
A Forward Looking Vision for the Balkans Through the Prism of the South East European Cooperation Process 11
Keeping that in mind, the Balkans need to have a view for the future rather than being captive to the past when addressing the challenges of the age. A vision-oriented approach proposes to handle today’s issues with a new framework and a fresh vision. The third important methodology principle suggests a value-based approach rather than an ideology-based approach to regional problems. A value-based vision presumes that the Balkan nations agree on certain common values, regardless of ethnic, religious, or sectarian differences. This vision stands in contrast to the ideology-based approach which essentially reproduces an ideological dogmatism reminiscent of the Cold War era or the later ethno-nationalistic ideologies that have destroyed the region with a spillover effect on the neighboring areas. To sum up, a novel approach to regional cooperation is vision-oriented rather than crisis-oriented, forwardlooking rather than backward-looking, and its understanding is value-based rather than ideology-based. These principles may serve as guiding principles for the SEECP as a forum in dealing with the issues in this region. all live together in the next century, bringing their own richness to the table. The nations of the Balkan region are not only neighbors living side by side, but they also form one family with dense societal and cultural ties that bind them. Regional ownership and inclusiveness does not mean that there will never be any disagreements, but a family approach essentially requires that the countries of the region should manage crises with the spirit of a family. We can also name it as regional responsibility. Just as nobody can deny his or her brother or sister, we cannot simply turn our back on each other and go about our own ways. What we need is to develop ways and means to resolve problems. In this sense, we could call the trilateral mechanism between Turkey, Bosnia and Serbia a historic step. Nobody could even have imagined in the 1990s, for example, that Turkey and Serbia would be working together now. Similarly, there is the Turkey, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina trilateral mechanism, in addition to a Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria one. The initiation of such bilateral, trilateral or other multilateral processes would pave the way for wider regional initiatives, which could be the leading focus of the SEECP forum. Policy makers should have the determination to turn the 21st century into a century of re-integration in the Balkan region. The second policy principle is regional reintegration. The 20th century was a century of division. In order to normalize the region to conform to the spirit of the time, policy makers should have the determination to turn the 21st century into a century of reintegration in the Balkan region. Instead of micro-level division, we need to bolster macro-level integration. On this point, having political dialogue is of paramount importance. There should be bilateral and multilateral high-level political dialogue mechanisms that meet on a regular basis, similar to the European Union’s mechanisms. Instead of having one annual summit, the SEECP might hold two or three summits, supported by a number of relevant bilateral mechanisms and permanent committees. One possible example for regional high level dialogue mechanism is the Turkey-Greece High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) Meeting. The establishment of the
These methodology principles should be complemented by policy principles in order to be effective in practical terms. In this category, we could include four policy principles. The first one is regional ownership and inclusiveness. Our starting premise is that, this region belongs to the local peoples who have lived there for centuries and will continue to live there. All ethnic, sectarian and linguistic groups are an integral part of the region and will remain so in the years ahead. No one should contemplate any expulsion of a population or the exile of a single individual. The nations of the Balkan region are not only neighbors living side by side, but they also form one family with close societal and cultural ties that bind them. This region is like shorba, and it will only taste good if salt and all the ingredients are properly there. If one takes any of these out, that shorba will be tasteless; hence, the importance of regional ownership. Serbs, Albanians, Turks, Greeks, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Croats, Romanians, Macedonians among others, will
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HLCC during Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Athens in 2010 has been an important cornerstone in improving our bilateral relations with Greece. Yet in one day, on May 14, 2010, Turkish and Greek authorities signed 22 agreements and there was a joint cabinet meeting with ten Ministers from each side around the table. This was beyond imagination just five or ten years ago. The second meeting of the HLCC was held on 4 March 2013 in Istanbul with the two Prime Ministers and 13 Ministers from each side. The common will of the two governments to further improve their bilateral relations in all fields was confirmed and this time 25 documents were signed, meaning that 47 documents were signed in total at the two consecutive HLCC meetings. The HLCC mechanism also increases the capability to explore new ways to overcome differences between Turkey and Greece. Turkey and Greece will continue to hold HLCC meetings regularly. Another successful example in this vein can be the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) between Turkey and Bulgaria whose first meeting in Ankara on 20 March 2012 was a remarkable success in elevating the existing bilateral relations to a level of genuine partnership. While both Prime Ministers met with each other, every Minister included in their delegations had seperate meetings with their counterparts. Following the signing of the document marking the establishment of the Turkish-Bulgarian HLCC, delegations from the two countries, headed by the two Prime Ministers, attended the HLCC’s first meeting. During that meeting, 17 agreements on diverse areas including economy, transportation, tourism, culture, environment, defense industry and broadcasting were concluded. Global economy is passing through challenging and difficult times. Our region is not immune from the adverse effects of the global crisis. While Eurozone is the epicenter of the crisis, we have to remain vigilant and attentively monitor the spillover effects of the Eurozone crisis on South East European economies. We must remain in solidarity throughout the crisis as our economies are interdependent by trade and investments. The region faces inter-related and multi-dimensional challenges. Several South East European countries are experiencing a significant slowdown. We need to focus more on the reasons and the outcomes of this gloomy situation. Weaknesses in competitiveness may undermine already fragile growth performances and diminish the ability of some countries to achieve sustainable fiscal dynamics. We should ensure that the South East European economic zone has a sound financial system with strong financial institutions. Austerity has to be reconciled with growth. As the Turkish case demonstrates, this is not an easy but doable job. Another crucial challenge is that the region has among the highest unemployment and poverty rates in Europe. We should implement policies that would establish a fair balance between economic interests and social realities. Generating jobs is the key to make economic recovery more supportive of social cohesion. Reforming the labor market and improving the quality of labor skills are essential for job creation. In this interconnected World no one is spared from the scarring effects of the ongoing economic crisis. It is true that Turkish economy proved to be one of the most resilient ones in confronting the challenging economic conditions. It was not an easy task, however. At a time when our major trade markets have been affected negatively by the global economic crisis, we were able to diversify our trade by finding new partners. Because we believe that by creating higher degree of economic interdependency, we could lessen the volatility in our neighborhood. This is precisely what we have done in promoting the regional trade by various policy measures. As a result the share of our neighbors in our total trade volume has quadrupled in the last ten years, comprising 32% of it. Last year for instance our trade with the countries in the wider Middle East region was on par with our trade with Europe. Similarly we have significantly increased our economic and trade relations with our partners in the Balkans. By signing free trade agreements with the regional countries, showing keen interest in the privatization processes in the region, promoting investment in the region by introducing various incentives, we tried hard to present the Balkans as an attractive option for Turkish investors.
A Forward Looking Vision for the Balkans Through the Prism of the South East European Cooperation Process 13
Turkey today has free trade agreements with all Balkan countries except for Kosovo. As a result of this, Turkey’s foreign trade with the Balkan countries has made impressive strides in recent years. Our total trade volume has increased from 2.9 billion dollars in 2000, to 18.4 billion dollars in 2012. Turkish direct investments in the Balkan countries are also showing an upward trend. Such policies go beyond their economic significance. This has not only helped our economy in weathering the storm during the crisis, it has also been used as an instrument to stabilize the political environment around us. Along the same line, I argue that by deepening economic interdependence, our region can not only overcome its imminent economic challanges but also move towards regional integration. In that respect, SEECP’s operational arm, the RCC (Regional Cooperation Council) provides an important forum that needs to be strengthened. Now that the RCC Participants have agreed on a revised Statute to enhance the capabilities of the organization, RCC can be more instrumental in forging better cooperation means in the region. RCC, like other organizations must embrace every stakeholder in its target area. I am very happy that the rapprochement between Belgrade and Prishtina led to the resolution of representation issue in the RCC. Moreover the agreement reached after the latest round of talks of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process held in Brussels on April 19, 2013 will make important contributions to Serbia-Kosovo relations and to the peace and stability, particularly in the Balkans but also in the world at large. Furthermore this agreement will also strengthen Serbia and Kosovo’s European orientations. I believe that such an agreement, which marks a new chapter in the relations between Serbia and Kosovo, creates an opportunity not to be missed for constructing the Balkans’ common future. Such developments induce our hopes for a better regional cooperation, not only on the political sphere, but also in the economic area. Such a fresh approach to regional integration also requires a new look at the role of the cities in the region. Many cities have suffered from the divisions imposed upon the region throughout the course of history. For example, Thessaloniki was previously the center of economic activity in South Eastern Europe, serving as the cultural and economic gateway to its hinterland throughout centuries. It was similar to the role of Edirne, Adrianapolis, of Turkey, in this respect. While Thessaloniki was the port for the entire Balkans, today it is an important city of only Greece. Skopje’s situation is no different. Now, those cities are far past their magnificent days. They can thrive and prosper again if the region prioritizes economic re-integration and removes barriers to closer interaction. I have for instance witnessed the progress in Skopje during my visit to this beautiful city in December 2012. We need regular airline connections, better highways and railroad connections in the Balkans so that our communities can be linked with each other closer. Such links will induce establishing a safe, secure and prosperous Balkans as an integral part of Europe. Thus, the Balkans will have a chance in moving towards becoming a sphere of well-being based on cooperation rather than competition. And as a genuine shareholder of this history and culture-rich geography, we believe that the target is within reach more than ever before. Another area where re-integration is long overdue, is in cultural and intellectual sphere. Let’s state the obvious: More cultural and intellectual interaction is a “sine qua non” for any regional cooperation process. In order to lift the barriers erected by cultural prejudices, there needs to be more interaction in fields such as cooperation and exchange programs between universities, as well as educational and research institutions. Only then can we lay a solid foundation for bolstering the regional integration. The Balkans has the potential to present a model of cultural coexistence which may set an example for other European countries in dealing with the issues of multiculturalism. In that respect, I always use Macedonia as a good example of success. The third policy-relevant principle is the importance of taking the European integration process into account. Obviously, the region’s past was immersed in the history of the wider European continent and its future will still be in Europe. Given the tight coupling of their destinies, the future of Europe will also be shaped by
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the future of the Balkans. The EU should continue its efforts to become a more politically and strategically relevant, multicultural, economically competitive actor on the world stage. Although a stable and prosperous Balkans is likely to become eventually a microcosmos of the EU, the perception is unfortunately different. Many Europeans think that the Balkan region is a burden on the EU. The peoples of the Balkan region should work together to show their European partners that their region is not a burden but a valuable asset that can contribute to European culture more than any other region. It is in the hands of the policy makers of the region to make the Balkans a center of attraction for the EU and an area of mutually-beneficial economic interaction. Policy makers need to adopt a new vision in tune with the spirit of the 21st century as they devise solutions to regional problems. The Balkans has the potential to present a model of cultural co-existence which may set an example for other Europeans in dealing with the issues of multiculturalism. Despite the bitter experiences of the 1990s, multiculturalism as experienced and practiced in the Balkans over the centuries is authentic in the sense that it reflects the diversity of the region. It is not only a recent by-product of the imperative conditions triggered by migrations; Balkan multiculturalism is mainly a culmination of the authentic historical experience that has accumulated over centuries. Whereas the multiculturalism in Paris, London or Berlin is the result of migration, which has hence resulted in reactionary and, to a certain extent, defensive opposition by some, the Balkan region reflects many valuable practical lessons and has a great potential to contribute to the shaping of the European cultural sphere. The fourth policy principle necessitates the development of a common stance and position in regional and global organizations. In the United Nations, there are currently no intra-Balkan consultation mechanisms; this needs to be addressed urgently. On certain issues there is room to promote an intra- Balkan dialogue, which would make it easier to form joint positions. Also in NATO such dialogue and consultation mechanisms would bear much fruit. In NATO, for instance, we should spend more efforts dwelling upon matters such as this one: How can the Balkan countries come together in NATO to discuss and promote the interest of their region? The offering of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) status for Bosnia-Herzegovina, albeit conditionally, three years ago was a good example which all Balkan countries supported. Although it has not yet been fulfilled, it is still a positive step forward. Another issue concerns the representation of the Balkans in the global economic and financial institutions, especially at a time when the region is facing the negative implications of the international financial crisis. Turkey is a G-20 country. As the only Balkan country in the G-20, it could represent the interests of the Balkans there. A new understanding of solidarity, consultation and development of joint projects in this global fora will positively affect regional cooperation in the Balkans and vice versa.
The ideas and principles put forth in this essay, drawing on both methodology and policy principles, are a modest attempt on how to further the institutional architecture of regional cooperation in the Balkan region and could very well be expanded with relevant intellectual and policy insights from other stakeholders in the region. The thrust of the discussions in this essay is that policy makers need to adopt a new vision in tune with the spirit of the 21st century as they devise solutions to regional problems. A major step in the direction of creating a new future for the region would be to adopt certain new ideas, for instance: – conducting regular meetings on the margins of international gatherings; – strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the SEECP; – working practically on cross-border projects especially in the areas of transport and energy; – having the SEECP countries represent each other in different international fora, to which some of us are not members;
A Forward Looking Vision for the Balkans Through the Prism of the South East European Cooperation Process 15
– establising a Wise Men Group to elaborate on all the suggestions put forward by SEECP member states; – or forming an intellectual platform to bring together the eminent members of academic world, media and think-tank communities are a few to mention. Another idea that merits due consideration pertains to our relations with other regional and international organizations. In this regard, I would like to particularly highlight the importance of enhancing cooperation and coordination between the SEECP and BSEC, the members of which largely overlap.Overall, these ideas do not in any way aim at creating a new, cumbersome bureaucratic giant. We simply wish to inject new dynamism into SEECP. Furthermore I would like to elucidate on of ‘wise-men’ idea. This group may assess the challenges of the 21st century and develop proposals for the improvement of regional cooperation. It has been called only a ‘process’ up until now, but probably it is high time to deepen the institutional architecture of the SEECP so that it moves beyond a mere consultative forum or process. It needs to have a more institutionalized structure to be sustainable and effective. In that respect, one mandate of the group of wise-men, to be composed mainly of intellectuals, politicians, or diplomats from all member countries, could be to suggest ways to devise new institutional frameworks for the SEECP to guide the work of policy makers in the region. In short, the Group shall draft a report where its members find out how to make the SEECP more efficient to cope with and respond to the current political and economic challenges as we approach the 20th anniversary of SEECP in 2016. The Group would represent a broad spectrum of SEECP member states and offer a balanced combination of insiders and outsiders, including from the private sector, diplomatic circles, think tanks and the academic community, who are experienced in the regional affairs. The Foreign Ministers would agree on a list of members and the Heads of States and Governments would endorse it. The Group may perform a number of consultations with relevant stakeholders all along their work. Inspired by the similar works done before, the SEECP member states shall also be involved throughout the process by organizing seminars with the Group or drafting foodfor-thought papers. The Group shall be able to reconcile different views in the end and bring about a coherent work. The final outcome should set a clear future direction that each SEECP member state can endorse and that all will embrace for years to come. Our starting premise is that this region belongs to the local peoples who have lived there for centuries and will continue to live in this region. All ethnic, sectarian and linguistic groups are an integral part of the region and will remain so in the years ahead. No one should contemplate any expulsion of a population or the exile of a single individual. The nations of the Balkan region are not only neighbors living side by side, but they also form one family with dense societal and cultural ties that bind them. We all know that it is not only our common past or shared values, but a joint vision for the future that binds us together. No one questions that the future of the Balkans lies within the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. This region is like “shorba”, and it will only taste good if salt and all the ingredients are properly there. If one takes any of these out, that “shorba” will be tasteless; hence, the importance of regional ownership. Serbs, Albanians, Turks, Greeks, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Croats, Romanians, Macedonians among others, will all live together in the next century, bringing their own richness to the table.
Excerpts of this article has been printed by Center for Strategic Research of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey in its October 2011 Vision Papers series.
16 South East European Cooperation Process
H.E. Ms. Vesna Pusić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia
SEECP: Vision of Goodneighbourliness, Social and Economic Development
I Believe the Results Are Visible 17
I Believe the Results Are Visible
or seventeen years now, we have been working within this process of cooperation in Southeast Europe, first to establish and then to develop and strengthen cooperation and good neighbourly relations, and we have proved that in spite of everything – historical background, current circumstances, differing views and positions – or precisely because of that it is possible, and imperative, to cooperate. Nobody will or can do it for us. It is us who must be aware of what our common interest is, meaning that we must jointly act to see it through. I am talking from the viewpoint of Croatia, a state on the verge of full membership of the European Union, and a state that is European, Central European, Mediterranean and Balkan all at once. The Balkans had all the negative connotations and image – war, death, feud, disorganisation, crime and corruption. It primarily stood for fragmentation and inability to cooperate. All this, to a greater or lesser extent, really did characterise this area, Southeast Europe, and Croatia in it. It is, therefore, a huge challenge to change this perception by perseveringly working on ourselves, on reforms, on building state institutions, because only a well organised state can guarantee its citizens security and stability that translate to economic prosperity and better life for our citizens. For this reason the key interest of Croatia is the stability of the entire region, because without a stable region there is no lasting stability for Croatia either, irrespectively of our pending admission to full EU membership. By joining the European Union we are not moving to a different geographical location, we are
staying where we are, and we wish to use our geostrategic position as best we can to be of service to Europe and the region at large. Our twelve-year experience with the European integration processes can best be utilized in this region due to linguistic reasons, our common history, our life together in previous state organizations, and last but not least – our common future. Undergoing the almost six-year long negotiating process, the key chapter was the one on justice, and Croatia was the first state to have had justice as a separate chapter. No state before us had this task, and we successfully completed it and showed it could be done. Through the negotiations and creation of acquis, i.e. the legislation that would become acquis communautaire to the future candidate states, and action plans, implementation of reforms, we were building the foundations for the institutions of the state. No part of society can function if there is no functional judiciary, or if laws do not apply equally to all, if some are more equal than others. Without healthy judiciary there is also no social or economic development, no investors and no investment. Among the last five generations in this area, nobody was born and died in the same state, although they remained in the same town the whole time. It is time to change that. It is finally time to leave well organized states to the generations to come. In this we need the cooperation of our neighbours, because in this small part of the globe everything is connected.
18 South East European Cooperation Process
The basic goals of regional cooperation within the South East European Cooperation Process are security and political cooperation, intensification of economic relations, cooperation in strengthening the judiciary and combating illegal activities, and development of democratic standards and culture. It is meant as a platform for strengthening good neighbourly relations and transformation of the region into an area of peace and stability, to enable SEECP participating states to approach European and Euro-Atlantic structures. I believe the results are visible. They did not come as quickly as we perhaps had hoped, but they are here. Croatia is one step away from full membership, Montenegro has begun the negotiations, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia are candidates, and after Serbia and Kosovo reached agreement in Brussels, they will get a new incentive to carry on the European integration process. SEECP itself changed during the seventeen years it has been in existence, closely following the change of circumstances both in the region and in the European Union. However, it is key that the region has come to own the process, that we no longer need help from the outside, but can manage it ourselves. To return to the example of my own country that in the beginning was not a full member of the SEECP, only an observer, but when we realized that it was in our interest to make decisions about our own destiny, we accepted full membership of this regional initiative. I would call this a process of maturing of the political elites and accepting the reality. Even though during our accession to the European Union we were not always too enthusiastic about it, we die lay firm foundations for the institutions of the state. We did not think of the European Union as a solution to all our problems, and we do not think that now. We do not think it is a promised land, but it is a guarantee of greater stability, security and functioning institutions. I believe that key to our path to the EU was achieving the political consensus, and that did take us very long, but it was achieved nevertheless in spite of all the ups and downs. However, we were and are connected to this region – geographically, demographically, politically and economically, and that is why the stabilization of Southeast Europe is not only in our – Croatian – interest, but in the interest of the countries of the region and Europe as well. Croatia is ready to use EU knowledge and experience to strengthen the institutions of the neighbouring countries. We are aware of our role and responsibility in the region. This round of enlargement is enlargement with a mission: Croatia is expected to exert positive influence and to play an active role in the stabilization of the region. This can only be achieved in cooperation with other countries in the region. For the first time in history we can stabilize this region on our own. As countries of the region we have the chance to assume such responsibility, and I believe we can do it. We have established a Centre of Excellence with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, bringing together the experts who negotiated on specific chapters. We are ready to transfer our knowledge and experience to all the states in the region, because we know what the support of those who had undergone the negotiating process before us meant to us. Our added value is language that can be understood by more than 20 million people in the region. All states in the region have European prospects that include good neighbourly cooperation. This not just a nice figure of speech, it really means continuous work on bilateral and multilateral relations and partnership approach. It means respecting other and different people who are not a priori rivals or enemies, and the sooner we understand that, the sooner we shall find solutions to open issues. I can confirm from my own experience how settling an open issue meant building better neighbourly relations between Croatia and Slovenia. Acting as responsible states, responsible primarily to our respective citizens, we saw settling the open issue as a challenge we were capable of tackling in the best possible manner – by finding a compromise with no winners and losers, but with realized realistic and acceptable goals. Today, Croatia is fully ready to function as an EU Member State. Croatia is also aware that we are acceding at less than favourable time that characterised the last
I Believe the Results Are Visible 19
two rounds or enlargement in 2004 and 2007. Then, the economy was on the rise, and enthusiasm peaked among the citizens of the old and new Member States, but now we have a completely different situation. Europe, as well as a large part of the world, is in economic crisis. There is less investment, and the enthusiasm about further enlargement has long been replaced by enlargement fatigue. What we, the states in the region, need to jointly work on is changing such a perception. There is no complete and stable Europe without the full inclusion of Southeast Europe, just like there is no stable region without its full integration with Europe. To make it happen we need mutual support and solidarity. By helping our neighbours, we are helping ourselves in all areas, whether it is disaster relief or reform of the justice system. Combating smuggling of people, arms and narcotics can only be effective if we cooperate and help each other. In the interdependent and globalised world nobody is an island. It is in the best interest of us all to stir the economy, create positive investment climate and attract foreign investors. We are, individually, small states, which is our disadvantage, but it is also our advantage in that we can bring some things to fruition faster and feel their effects stronger. This also means that we depend on each other, on the stability of our neighbours, and on the functionality of the institutions and judiciary of both our own state and of the neighbouring states. Last but not least, the European Union i.e. the then Coal and Steel Community, was created owing to the prevalence of the political will of the until then conflicting parties to overcome the barriers from the past and focus on the future cooperation, banning war as a means to achieve political goals. It is for this reason that I believe it is important to have regional cooperation forums such as the South East European Cooperation Process, to jointly build stability and success for every single one of our states and the entire region at large.
20 South East European Cooperation Process
H.E. Mr. Ivan Mrkić, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia
“The primary objective of the South-East European Cooperation Process – SEECP - is to strengthen the good-neighbourly relations among all states in this region, for transforming this region into an area of peace, security, stability and cooperation.“ From the Bucharest Charter on Good Neighbourly Relations, Stability, Security Cooperation in South Eastern Europe, of February 2000
SEECP: Vision of Goodneighbourliness, Social and Economic Development
Enlargement Policy Is One of the Union’s Most Important Instruments 21
Enlargement Policy Is One of the Union’s Most Important Instruments
Transforming the Region
hen the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Countries of South-Eastern Europe gathered in Sofia, in July 1996, they expressed their strong conviction that the time has come for a new beginning of inter-State relations between the countries of South East Europe and for developing a modality for a comprehensive multilateral cooperation. In the Declaration adopted in Sofia, they committed themselves that every effort shall be made to transform the region into an area of stability, security and cooperation in line with the broader developments throughout Europe. These endeavours were aimed at contributing to the construction of a new Europe – a Europe of democracy, peace, unity and stability, thus enabling all nations in the region to live together in peace with each other as good neighbours. Among the foremost reasons that emphasized the need for and drove the efforts to achieve an enhanced cooperation in South East Europe, the following need to be accentuated: • A necessity to get closer to the European Union and other European and Euro-Atlantic integrations; At the same time, a clear intention to utilise cooperation within South East Europe as a positive contribution to the overall European “architecture”; • An interdependence among neighbours, particularly in view of relatively limited national markets,
modest levels of economic development, a necessity to develop infrastructure and to regulate the growing number of economic and social issues at regional/international level; • A need for a better exploitation of one or more common resources, and for market liberalization; • External pressure by the European Union and other centres of influence on the Balkan states to set up a better and a more efficient bilateral and multilateral cooperation; • Perceived benefit of following the models of other sub-regions in Europe and beyond (such as Benelux States, Scandinavia, Mediterranean or Baltic States). The Ministerial meeting and the Sofia Declaration of July 1996 launched the South-East European Cooperation Process - SEECP, as genuine Balkan cooperation forum, later recognized by the international community as the authentic voice of the region. The SEECP emerged as an expression of the will of the region’s states to start a long-term process of multilateral cooperation covering a wide range of issues from security, economic cooperation, humanitarian, social and cultural cooperation, over the cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs, but above all - to foster true political cooperation and dialogue. Could we, more than sixteen years later, agree whether the SEECP achieved its goals?
22 South East European Cooperation Process
Authentic voice of the South Eastern Europe
When talking about the role of the SEECP, we have to bear in mind certain facts: – The SEECP conferences were held on the highest political level of heads of state or government or ministers of foreign affairs, which had been virtually impossible in previous periods. – Thus, it represented a unique forum for multilateral political dialogue in the region on high and senior political levels. That had, in principle, opened up the possibility for improving the general atmosphere in the region, after the difficult period linked to the disintegration, wars, transition, as well as the general economic crisis. – The SEECP, while adopting its main document Bucharest Charter on Good Neighbourly Relations, Stability, Security Cooperation in South Eastern Europe, of February 2000, foresaw multilateral co-operation in all main domains of inter-state co-operation, upon the lines that corresponded to contemporary trends of European co-operation. – Geographically, it included all of the Balkan countries, regardless of their international position or internal developments. – The SEECP meetings, by demonstrating positive interaction of the political leadership of the participating states, have also had some positive effects on the public opinion in SEE countries. – Equally, it should not be forgotten that this prompted the EU to establish an informal consultative committee or the “Troika”, bringing together representatives of the European Commission, Stability Pact (later transformed into the Regional Cooperation Council) and SEECP to ensure synergy with regional initiatives. The SEECP values and its profiling into an authentic voice of the region has evidently helped consolidate our political cooperation and intensified economic relations, as well. The first decade of SEECP has above all confirmed the commonly held understanding that substantive regional cooperation is a precondition for accomplishing sustainable national and regional economic development. In this respect, the crucial achievement was unequivocally represented by the successfully accomplished process of remodelling and enlarging of the CEFTA Agreement in 2006, which created a free trade area, enabled countries and economies of the Balkans to become more investment attractive and to become a part of a larger regional market. This arrangement was and still is an excellent preparation of the national economies and the respective business communities for their forthcoming entry into the European common market, but also into global markets and wider integration processes. At the same time, the countries of the region witnessed a growing sense that regional cooperation represented the finest promoter of their aspirations for the European Union integration. Transformation of the Stability Pact of SEE into the Regional Cooperation Council, directly linked to the SEECP and with institutionalized communication with the EU, represented an essential and future-oriented step at that time. This was the concrete proof that regional cooperation in South East Europe had reached a decisive point. This was the proof that the region had made significant progress, that violence had been discredited as a means of achieving political goals in the Balkans, that the establishment of democratic institutions and the development of civil society were not only on the right track, but the real way forward to prosperity. Economic development was in progress, regional cooperation become stronger and integration into European structures had come a long way. The transformation of the Stability Pact – initially created to support the reconstruction of the Balkans – into the Regional Cooperation Council, offered the SEECP a unique opportunity to become a more effective contributor to common European policies but also a notable contributor to the EU-integrative aspirations of the participating states. On the other hand it was obvious then, as it is now, that the SEECP-RCC relationship needs to be efficient and that the bond between the “political” and the “executive” levels proves that the higher stage of cooperation, widely recognized as “regional ownership”, has been truly reached.
Enlargement Policy Is One of the Union’s Most Important Instruments 23
The European Perspective
All SEECP countries are part and parcel of the European integration process in one way or another. Some of them are already members or are at the doorstep of the European Union, others are engaged in intensive, at times undoubtedly difficult, negotiations towards their own EU membership. Some have this prospect ahead of them and others, again, are in the process of forming close neighbourly links. Having in mind that within the Union there has been talk for some time now of an “enlargement fatigue”, of rising Euro-scepticism, with a concurrent need for EU institutional consolidation from within before the new prospective members enter, one particular question emerges repeatedly: does the European Union still stand by its pledge that the future of the whole of the Balkans lies in the EU? Perhaps this is a good time to remind ourselves that the experiences with the enlargement in the past suggest that economic, political and primarily social benefits of this process have been sizeable, both to the European Union as a whole and to its member states in particular, the “new” and the “old” ones alike. This process has been crucial for the stability and for the rising importance of the EU as a global partner, capable of greater influence in world affairs and having a pronounced conflict prevention and post-conflict stabilisation capacity. Despite these positive experiences, an alarming fact remains: delaying or slowing of the process of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans will surely result in a further deceleration of the region’s economic development and of the broader societal reforms in it. In a serious economic situation facing the Balkan countries, this could also affect the region’s very political stability. In other words, the enlargement policy is one of the Union’s most important instruments not only in stabilising the region and in helping achieve its economic and general prosperity, but for ensuring the stability and the security of the Union as a whole. Serbia believes that these considerations should be taken into account when deciding on the hinted, temporary pause in further EU enlargement. The consequences of such a decision could
prove more costly to the Western Balkans and, in turn, the EU itself, than the actual costs of full membership status when objectively deserved. In the Western Balkans there remains a strong conviction of that decision makers in Brussels and the current members of the European Union are truly aware of how much energy is being invested here into the EU integration process, and . However, it is crucial to stress that these efforts do not have as their primary aim the European integration as such, but rather they are of the utmost importance for the unhindered continuation of the internal development and reform process of all Western Balkan countries – the benefits of which, as well as the merits of which will bring about the integration into the European Union as well. This is precisely why it is very important that all Western Balkan countries proceed in a mutually supportive manner, taking the region of South Eastern Europe on a continued and sustained joint journey to further economic, social and political advancement, that must, in due time, result in deserved EU membership for all still outside of it.
Raising the Level of Regional Cooperation
The Republic of Serbia recognizes cooperation among the countries of our region as a conditio sine qua non for the region’s economic development, its security and stability, as well as for the European integration process of all countries belonging to it. Simply put, regional cooperation is one of the cornerstones of Serbia’s foreign policy. In the past couple of years, Belgrade was symbolically the centre of regional cooperation. Serbia held the presidencies of the Central European Initiative (CEI); the Migration, Asylum and Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI); the Adriatic Ionian Initiative (AII) and the SEECP (June 2011 – June 2012) as well. The SEECP Chairmanship was approached very ambitiously and the calendar of events included more than thirty meetings at the expert and ministerial level. On the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York, Serbia organized the first ever working breakfast with ministers of foreign affairs of the SEECP, Central European Initiative and Adriatic Ionian
24 South East European Cooperation Process
Initiative, together with the secretaries general of the two regional initiatives and the Regional Cooperation Council. The foremost priority of Serbia’s SEECP Chairmanship was an enhanced cooperation in the fight against organized crime and terrorism. Resolute steps were taken towards joining forces in removing all threats seriously jeopardizing security in the SEE region. Raising the level of regional cooperation in the fields of environmental protection, prevention and elimination of the consequences of all types of disasters, was also one of the priorities that Serbia was particularly committed to. Cultural cooperation was high on the priority list of Serbia’s Chairmanship-in-office (CiO), as well as the deepening of the institutional dialogue with the European Commission and with the EU institutions. An increased level of synergy and cooperation achieved between the CiO of SEECP and the RCC contributed both to the further improvement of the relations among our countries as well as to the relations between the region and the European Union. During its Chairmanship-in-Office, Serbia formally launched, with great enthusiasm, the exchange of the ideas among the SEECP participating countries on deepening and expanding the regional cooperation. The core issue raised in this respect was how to institutionally strengthen our organisation, by providing it with the necessary tools to more effectively meet contemporary regional challenges. In furtherance of this, it was agreed by all that a more up-to-date concept of regional ownership within the SEECP needed to be promoted. It was further agreed that this would help the common efforts to consolidate the role and capacity of the SEECP in deepening political dialogue, economic cooperation, and cultural commonalities throughout South East Europe. In addition, stronger links and interaction between SEECP and RCC, on the one hand, and the European Commission, on the other, have been sought. The Republic of Serbia will fully contribute to the continuation of the debate about the future of the SEECP under the current and forthcoming Chairmanships in Office, with the aim of further strengthening the regional cooperation in SEE, that could contribute to a functional consolidation of the regional cooperation within SEECP as well as to the strengthening of the coordination and synergy with its operational arm - the RCC. Having in mind that our common goal remains a stabile, prosperous and developed region becoming part of the EU, we look forward to the European Union continuing to work together with us, for the strengthening of European values and for a reinvigorated and smoother integration process of this region into the European family where it rightly belongs.
26 South East European Cooperation Process
H.E. Mr. Igor Lukšić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro
SEECP: Vision of Goodneighbourliness, Social and Economic Development
SEECP Enabled Us to Strengthen Stability and European Perspective 27
SEECP Enabled Us to Strengthen Stability and European Perspective
here is an old Chinese malediction “May God let you live in interesting times”. The Region of South East Europe, world-wide known as the Balkans, by the old Persian term bālkāneh or bālākhāna, meaning “high, above, or proud house”, has experienced these“interesting times” throughout its unparallel history, as many times as a few other regions in the world. This “proud house” has every reason to be proud for all the things that made it the barrel of wisdom, as for the pearls of the antiquity, such as philosophy, drama, democracy, architecture and art. The birthplace of 17 Roman emperors, among which Constantine the Great, who split the empire half into the east and the west, by pen or by sword, right through the Balkans, has ever since been struggled by this dichotomy between the East & the West. Nevertheless, decent people from the Balkans can, and sometimes must, carry an unbearable burden of gilt and shame for all those reasons that turned it into the barrel of gun powder. Way too much blood, seldom the innocent ones’, has been shed all over this marvellous piece of Earth. The shield that a Spartan mother gave her son before his first battle, with notorious Laconic “With it, or on top of it” seem to be overarching tumultuous history of this peninsula. A bristling fact that not more than 35 years of piece in a row has ever occurred around here, puts one in front of an epic dilemma whether the Balkan is the mountain of Sisyphus, because, each time the rolling stone reaches the top, by great efforts of great generations that appear around here every once
in a while, by some ugly coincidence, it stumbles down crushing one beautiful idea that is, I am sometimes afraid, just an illusion. Montenegro, in a way, summarises vast majority of Balkans’ typical features. It is small, yet proud. It has experienced on its own skin whips, as well as caresses, of all the major powers and civilizations of this part of the globe, which, each at its own peak, were often the major world powers. It has an incredible coast line and stunningly beautiful mountain ranges. The smallest population with the tallest people in Europe. Yet, it has certain specificities. By one German military history expert, Montenegrins are the second most successful warrior nation in the world, right afters Vietnamese. During the last war in the Balkans, Montenegro remained one single country of all ex-Yugoslav republics without a war on its territory. In this brutal decade, our doors were open for all those in need from each conflict area. In one moment, over 20% of all the people on our territory were refugees. This fact is still very strongly embedded in minds of many around the Region. Montenegro has exquisite relations with all the surrounding countries, as well as with, our friends from Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria or Slovenia. Thus, regional cooperation found its place, both factually and formally, among the three major foreign policy priorities of Montenegro. The first instance of political regional cooperation after the end of the war came with the formation of the South East European Cooperation Process in 1996. In the following dozen of years, large transformation of
28 South East European Cooperation Process
the region occurred. Environment changed all around, new hope emerged, tolerance, mutual dialogue, slowly but surely, took floor from the speech of hatred, all kinds of initiatives were built, Montenegro regained its independence… In 2008 the ground was sound for the ~Chapter on good neighbourly relations, stability, security and cooperation in the South East Europe~. Since this, let’s say historical event, in Bucharest, a progress in joint cooperation was made in various fields, covering the range from economy, social and cultural affairs to judiciary and interior affairs, and fighting corruption and organized crime. The SEECP is a regional framework that enabled us to strengthen stability and the European perspective of our countries, in a short and dynamic period of time. The political, economic and social situation in the region has changed. We are constantly working on further development of democracy, tolerance, the rule of law and market economy. The stereotyped Balkans mentality matrix is changing, as is the negative perception of the Balkans, both internally and externally. Formation of the Regional Cooperation Council in Sarajevo, as a coordination body, derived from the Stability Pact, gave this region credibility in the eyes of the international community, by taking regional ownership idea to a higher level. Guidelines provided by the RCC to the countries, regional organizations and initiatives, on basis of their own inputs, made significant marks in results achieved through cooperation in all the aspects it covers, from environment, energy, infrastructure, security, education, culture to parliamentary cooperation. A choice of the city host of the RCC Headquarters, was, in a certain way, a declaration of an undivided recognition of appreciation to the Olympic city, as well as a firm decision that, from then on, the only instruments to wage battles will be arguments, knowledge and expertise. Montenegro has demonstrated its strong commitment to the regional cooperation through the recent presidencies of the most important regional initiatives, fully affirming good neighbourhood policy and preserving regional dialogue as the best reccomendation for social and economic development and progress on the European and Euroatlantic path. During its Chairmanship-in-Office of the SEECP, in 2010-2011, Montenegro strived to promote the basic principles established by the Chapter, directing its focus primarily on the judiciary and home affairs, and fight against corruption and organized crime, as detected the prime issues our region have faced in recent years, as well as to the sustainable development, which we believe is the largest potential for our region’s brighter perspective. At the same time, we gave our best not to neglect any of areas of cooperation, which was demonstrated through organizing numerous meetings at expert and ministerial level. In political terms, Montenegro focused on enhancing an institutional dialogue with the European Commission and other EU institutions towards promoting European perspective of all the SEECP member states that are not yet a part of the EU. It is my sincere pleasure to be able to state that Montenegro received unanimous appreciation from all of our partners for having done an excellent work in promoting the role and activities of the SEECP on both national and international level. This recognition was best shown by granting us to host Regional school for public administration, a joint project of the SEECP, RCC and EC. RESPA is establishing itself as a suitable regional platform for networking and exchange of good practises in the process of modernization of public administration. By constituting the Secretariat of the RCC Task Force on culture and society, our old capital Cetinje became a regional cultural centre for promoting and preserving precious heritage in the South East European countries. The SEECP has proven to be the regional political forum which largely contributed to the stabilisation of the South East European counties and thusly, confirmed their European perspective. For the whole 17 years since its formation, we have jointly made our region safer and more prosperous. With our project-oriented work we have promoted valorisation of our national potentials and values in order to realize commonly defined goals. Political, economic, and social reforms have been going on with a decent level of success. We are constantly
SEECP Enabled Us to Strengthen Stability and European Perspective 29
working on further development and promotion of democracy, tolerance, rule of law and market economy. European and Euro-Atlantic path has been walked on, pretty surely. We have to find a formula on how to continue on our road to the EU and NATO, both individually and as a region, each in our own responsibility. How can we help Europe and our international partners to help us? Especially today, when we have economic crisis and new global challenges, consequences of which we feel in the region. The answer lays in realizing that we are the closest to each other, not just geographically, but also culturally and historically, and that our diversity is the greatest link of our togetherness. We have to materialize this, not through political talk, but through concrete, project-oriented cooperation. We are all very well aware that regional dimension plays a crucial role in the EU enlargement strategy. This includes regional cooperation, as an important EU membership pre-condition, but also as a means to foster dialogue, reconciliation and stability across the SEE region. Regional cooperation needs to be effective, inclusive, representative and efficient. This is also one of the main reasons for consolidating regional cooperation within the SEECP framework. As the most relevant political forum, fully regionally owned and governed from the very beginning, the SEECP is recognized as forum for dealing with demanding challenges in the region. Through strong prism of cooperation, differences are overleaped and intertwined, thus forging ever stronger bond of our unity. It brings us courage to do what it takes and make lasting results. The SEE aspirants are moving on the European and Euro-Atlantic integration paths in accordance with their individual merits. Within the SEECP framework, we have acceding country preparing to join the community of 27 EU member states, country that has started EU accession negotiations, countries that have been granted candidate status or working to achieve candidate status, countries whose European aspirations are pursued within a different EU institutional framework, as well as several EU member states that are providing great support to the efforts to the SEE aspirants. The success of some SEECP member states in negotiations for EU membership should be a strong incentive and encouragement for others. The mutual support, all-inclusive and intensive regional cooperation is the right way to achieve political goals towards European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Changes brought by global challenges are felt all around us. The global economy crisis has hit us all but also stimulated to join efforts, within regional framework, to find an efficient formula to minimize its effects that threaten to undermine stability and shake up still fragile mosaic of regional stability. The change of environment that we live in creates the need for reform in various areas. We need to focus our activities towards taking over the regional responsability in order to prepare appropriate strategy for servicing the needs of all SEE countries, with stimulatory effects of EU enlargement policy. The central challenge for all our countries is the economy. Weaknesses in competitiveness may undermine already fragile growth performances and diminish the ability of some countries to achieve sustainable fiscal dynamics. We should implement policies that would establish a fair balance between economic interests and social realities. Generating jobs is the key to make economic recovery more supportive of social cohesion. Reforming the labor market and improving the quality of labor skills are essential for job creation. Regional cooperation is dynamic process with structures that need to be intensively enhanced in order to better reflect the developments on the ground. We believe that only our common effort and constructive dialogue will bring about results which are rational, concrete and oriented to common European future. It’s necessary to evaluate the current level of cooperation and analyze achieved results. We should be focused on thematic areas such as infrastructure, energy, justice and home affairs, environmental protection, science and culture in order to secure effective implementation of the planned activities within the regional context. Only our willingness to cooperate within the region and only our capacity to integrate the region may legitimize our European aspirations. And only that will prove that we
30 South East European Cooperation Process
are capable of finding not only our European orientation but also our European soul. Also, in the context of closer relation between different regional actors, we need to emphasize synergy between SEECP and RCC. We must strenghten the role of the Process, as unique voice of the region, by the region and for the region, thus contributing and resolving open questions, translating political into practical solutions and bringing closer region to the EU. RCC can be proud to have ensured all-inclusiveness in its activities. It shows that the region is able to take responsibility for its own future and create a climate for overall progress in the spirit of tolerance and cooperation. We have to evaluate wisely what we have achieved so far, to continue to build upon it, and by preserving regional mosaic, create, as much as possible, functional strategy of development, whose benefits will be palpable and visible to as large number of people in our region as can be.
SEECP Enabled Us to Strengthen Stability and European Perspective 31
32 South East European Cooperation Process
H.E. Mr. Iurie LEANCĂ, Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova
“Solidarity in Action” – SEECP Motto
"Solidarity in Action” – SEECP Motto Fit for the Region 33
"Solidarity in Action” – SEECP Motto Fit for the Region
esigned to steer and foster intra-regional cooperation among participating countries, with a strong focus on accomplishing their European integration agenda, the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) has become since its inception an expression of regional ownership in identifying priorities and jointly promoting them for the benefit of the future development of the region. With a vision for solidarity and good-neighbourly relations, the SEECP consolidates the dialogue between representatives of the countries concerned in order to create a solid and genuine regional cooperation. Contributing to better defining common views and sharing experience, SEECP - as a forum for political and diplomatic dialogue, is subsequently converging into a single fascicle the endeavours of each of the participating states towards building the present and the future of the region. Focusing on the promotion of all-inclusiveness and regional ownership SEECP is enacting the spirit of solidarity and mutually beneficial collaboration in developing political, security, trade or cultural cooperation in the region. Partnership, dialogue and cooperation, it is, thus, the format which defines nowadays our cooperation in the South East Europe. Without any doubts, the enhancement of regional ownership is an essential instrument to ensure sustainability of the existing regional co-operation networks. At the same time, it is a unique arrangement that promotes the idea of lasting peace, stability and good-neighbourly relations in the region, paving the way towards the Euro-
pean integration of the south eastern European countries. Or, regional cooperation is one of the requirements of the EU enlargement process that has to be ensured by all the applicants. And what better platform and tool to overcome in a forward-looking approach the some of the remaining open issues in the region or share the best practices and accumulated experience in fulfilling the European integration benchmarks. Accordingly, the SEECP format and structures are shaped to support the reforms, hence contributing to the advancement of our countries on course of the European integration. For this reason, a special emphasis is put on deepening the political dialogue with EU and all its institutions, the activity of the Regional Cooperation Council, created under the SEECP umbrella, being instrumental in this regard. At the same time, new emerging challenges and rapidly evolving circumstances in the region and on the European continent make us particularly exigent in terms of quick and efficient responses. Moreover, building on achieved progress there is a need to continue the debate on rethinking the SEECP process in general, and of its institutionalization, in particular. This shall be an open-ended process which will shape the future contours of the SEECP, setting up new objectives and new mechanisms for the interaction of the countries of the region. Some of these priorities are already included in the RCC Strategy and Work Programme for 2014-2016. However we need to project our national objectives for the
34 South East European Cooperation Process
future cycles in the regional framework beyond 2016. We believe that these projections shall be taken into account while developing and adopting the South East European Strategy 2020. Regional initiatives, either of humanitarian or security nature, that are affiliated with the SEECP process, represent a tangible contribution to the stability and security in the region. In this regard I would like to stress that the Republic of Moldova has a fruitful partnership within the SEE Health Network, my country coordinating the management of the medical personnel migration at the regional level. Last year the Regional Health Development Center on Human Resources was established within the National Center for Health Management of the Republic of Moldova. We also highly appreciate the cooperation within the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe, which became an efficient tool of interaction between the law-enforcement bodies in combating transnational crimes. At the same time, we are confident that the transformation of SECI center into the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center contributed to the enhancement of its operational effectiveness, with a broader information system and an adequate level of protection of personal data in line with EU standards. Highly motivated by the European integration objective which is inspiring all of the south east European countries, the Republic of Moldova is persistently developing its dialogue with the EU dialogue, which with every year is acquiring more substance and potential in all segments of cooperation. In this respect, the key short term priorities of the European integration process are concluding the Association Agreement, including its DCFTA component, with the aim of political association and economic integration, and obtaining the visa free regime with the EU. At the same time, the experience and knowledge gained by the Republic of Moldova through its participation in various cooperative initiatives in the South-East Europe represent a substantial competitive advantage for my country within the Eastern Partnership, which allows Moldova to better explore the possibilities offered by the multilateral dimension of cooperation in this format. Moldova has continued to implement the structural reforms and is continuously aligning the national regulations to those of the EU. Positive developments have taken place in the key area of Justice and Home affairs with the launch of comprehensive Justice Reform Strategy, transformation of the Center of Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption into an Anti-corruption Agency and the reform of the Ministry of Interior. The dynamics and depth of the undertaken reforms are otherwise reflected in the progresses of our bilateral relations with the EU registered in the same period of time. Undoubtedly, regional dimension is a complementary and indispensable tool to our progress towards European integration and, the support and experience of regional partners is extremely important to us. It is our common task to demonstrate the viability and uniqueness of the SEECP in achieving the objective of EU integration, by further ensuring synergies between the various regional cooperation initiatives and thus, striving for consolidating a climate of trust and friendship so important for a stable, secure and prosperous development in the region and on the European continent.
Partnership, dialogue and cooperation, it is, thus, the format which defines nowadays our cooperation in the South East Europe.
36 South East European Cooperation Process
Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
“Solidarity in Action” – SEECP Motto
The SEECP and EU Civil Protection: Solidarity in Action 37
The SEECP and EU Civil Protection: Solidarity in Action
his year’s summit of Heads of State and Government of the South-East European Cooperation Process countries is dedicated to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. This is a very timely and pressing issue for all of us. The SEECP is a unique combination of Member States of the European Union, Candidate countries and East European Partner countries, and therefore vitally important when it comes to extending cooperation on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. I wholeheartedly support this initiative of the countries from South East Europe. Firstly, because I myself come from the region and I am keen to see it prospering and to see the countries cooperating closely in the building of a better, safer future. Second, because I have seen in person how cooperation can help countries and peoples walk together the path toward their European future – making the steps of practical teamwork in one area has the power to lead to steps in other areas as well. And finally, because the topic of the summit - the prevention of natural and man-made disasters - is very close to my heart. Crisis response is my portfolio as European Commissioner, and since I started my mandate, I have become witness to any disaster imaginable. Having seen nature or man’s mistakes can erase in seconds what society has taken decades to build, having seen how thousands of lives can be transformed by a single disaster and thousands of livelihoods can be erased, I am a firm believer in the need to work together to prepare ourselves, to protect our citizens and our assets, and
to give each other the helping hand of solidarity, this most precious of European values. I am glad that the South East European Co-operation Process offers a cooperation platform between the EU member states and the EU candidate countries and the potential candidates. This makes me trust that the work that we do on the EU level will be more easily transferred and adapted to the needs of all South East European countries including the Western Balkan region. From our side, the Commission is making budget available through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) not only for civil protection cooperation on disaster response, but also for joint activities in disaster risk reduction (DRR) with the candidate countries and potential candidates. The IPA beneficiaries are invited to share with the Commission what they think would be most beneficial for them to be included in the future programmes on DRR.
More frequent and destructive disasters: global trends
Why is it so important that today we need to intensify European cooperation in disaster risk reduction and disaster response? Because disasters are on a continuous increase, including in Europe. In the last years disasters have been striking more often and with a greater impact. A number of trends are changing our world: climate change; population
38 South East European Cooperation Process
growth; increasing urbanisation, industrial development, terrorism. These help explain the dramatic rise in the frequency of natural disasters. In 1975 there were 78 recorded disasters; since the year 2000, the number has consistently been between 310 and 432 per year. 2011 was the most expensive year ever in terms of disaster-caused damage ($366 billion, compared to $243 billion in the last record year of 2005). Disasters are also growing in intensity – to the extent that in recent years we have witnessed a number of mega-disasters: the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident that hit Japan in 2011; the record droughts that triggered massive hunger in the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa; the 2012 Hurricane Sandy which caused damage worth 70 billion US dollars in the United States alone. And new threats emerge, such as cyber-attacks on public institutions. Europe is not shielded from disaster risks either. Incredible though this may seem, in the last decade natural disasters killed some 100,000 people in Europe. These disasters cost the economies in Europe some €150 billion and also inflicted significant environmental harm. For example between 2003-2009 over half a million hectares of protected sites burned down in forest fires, which also push up the harmful CO2 emissions. The economic costs of disasters are also substantial: consider, for instance, the eruption of Iceland’s volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, which forced 20 countries to close their airspace for days, left over 100,000 passengers stranded and inflicted substantial damage to a number of industries. If we look at the incidence of disasters compared to Europe’s area, the fact is that Europe is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. The recent “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX report) made it clear that these trends will continue. It was written by 220 scientists from more than 60 countries and it paints a sobering picture of a future that will be increasingly hit by heat waves, droughts, floods and storm surges. Our world is changing and increased fragility is a fact of life.
More and more complex disasters in South Eastern Europe
South Eastern Europe is not an exception. Earthquakes are frequent and sometimes deadly. Devastating large quakes that have marked our region, for instance the 1963 Skopje disaster and the 1977 Vrancea earthquake. Destructive earthquakes are part of our region’s present as well: the 2011 quake in Van, Turkey, claimed more than 270 lives and injured thousands of people. There have also been smaller tremors, in which mercifully no lives were lost, but which were extremely painful and distressing for the affected families and communities: such as the 2012 earthquakes near Ohrid in your country and near Pernik in my native Bulgaria. The region is also prone to floods (of which we have seen recent major incidents in Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria) and forest fires (increasingly common in Croatia and Greece, but also threatening their neighbours). Extreme weather is not only causing summer heat waves and fires, but also extreme cold snaps in winter – remember the winter of 2011-2012 when much of Central Europe, but also Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Romania were in the grip of heavy snow, ice, electricity failures and thousands of people shut off and unreachable. Mother Nature is increasingly unpredictable, but it’s not the only source of risks that threaten us. With industrialisation and new security challenges, disasters caused by men are also increasingly frequent. In Cyprus in 2011, an explosion in a naval base killed 12 people and threatened the power supply of the whole country. In Hungary, a year before, an industrial incident in an alumina plant flooded a town and a village with toxic red sludge, taking nine lives, injuring thousands and causing major damage to nature and infrastructure. Even problems that may seem far away from us, like terrorism and extremism, can strike with no provocation or sense, like the tragic terrorist attack near Bourgas, Bulgaria, in 2012, where eight people died in the blast. These trends point to one conclusion: we need to adapt to be able to respond better to the growing risks that face us. This is primarily the job of national authorities, which have the ultimate responsibility for
The SEECP and EU Civil Protection: Solidarity in Action 39
protecting the lives of their citizens. But experience has shown that disaster management is greatly improved by cooperation – after all, disasters don’t stop at national borders. In both prevention and response, it pays off to work together – this allows more lives to be saved and further damage to be prevented. Cooperation is also cost-effective, and most importantly, it builds lasting bonds – the bonds of solidarity, of learning from each other’s experience, of shared effort and success. cooperate in civil protection - the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, powered by the brand new Emergency Response Centre which was just launched on May 15 this year and is based at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The Mechanism is a common platform for coordination, exchange of information and help which comes to the assistance when one of our participating states or a third country is faced with a disaster overwhelming its national capacity. The affected country can request assistance by activating the Mechanism: in case of an earthquake, for example, the request may be for search and rescue teams, medical teams, shelters and water purification units. Assistance can cover all type of emergencies, including acts of terrorism, technological, radiological and environmental accidents and also forest fires. Today the Mechanism has 32 participants: the 27 Member States of the EU, Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia [MIC ed.], Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. Today the Civil Protection Mechanism is open to participation to all countries from the EEA and candidate countries. We are also eager to enhance our cooperation and exchange best practices with key international partners. To this end, we have signed administrative arrangements with Australia, Russia, Ukraine and most recently with the USA and Moldova. Procedures to formalise our cooperation with Japan an ASEAN are well advanced. We value these partnerships very highly – in a world where we are both vulnerable and inter-connected, cooperation makes us all safer and improves our chances to save lives and prevent damage. Last year, the Republic of Macedonia [MIC ed.] became the 32nd member of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, connecting itself to a Europe-wide disaster management network and thus being able to access a pool of resources for dealing with a wide spectrum of disasters. I am pleased that your country has joined us into a community of European nations which work together for better prevention, preparedness and response to disasters, inside and outside the EU.
The value added by cooperation
In the European Union, and with our partners in civil protection, we have proven the value of cooperation. Working together and sharing resources means that more assets are available for disaster response. No country can be expected to invest in preparing for every possible disaster scenario. When a major catastrophe hits, we need to be able to pool and deploy the sum of Europe’s civil protection capacity. This is not only more effective in terms of response but is also more cost-effective, and a priority on which we are working at present. Collaboration also allows us to avoid duplication. Furthermore, joint training and exercises allow us to learn from each other and strengthen national disaster management systems. The advantages of common action are well understood by the citizens of the European Union – according to a 2012 public opinion survey, 89% believe that the EU should actively help its members deal with crises at home and that it should also support disaster victims abroad.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism
The European Union has been working to match this expectation of our citizens and to rise to the need of more effective disaster response. To lead this work, my position was created and I became the first European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. Along the political leadership, we in Europe have a practical tool to
40 South East European Cooperation Process
The Mechanism that the Republic of Macedonia [MIC ed.] has joined is indeed a busy and dynamic one: since its creation in 2001, it has been activated over 150 times, for different types of disasters. Major crises in which we helped give assistance include the Tsunami in South Asia (2004/2005); Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the USA (2005); earthquakes in China (2008), Haiti (2010), Japan (2011); floods in the Balkans (2010); forest fires in Greece (2007, 2012); unrest in Libya (2011); explosion at the naval base in Cyprus (2011); assistance to Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries (2012-2013). The value of European assistance brought through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been proven time after time: in the first year of its existence, the Mechanism received three requests for assistance while last year it was activated 21 times: including for Hurricane Sandy and the forest fires in Southern Europe. The Mechanism’s Participating States benefit from the exchange of knowledge, best practices and flows of information when responding to major emergencies. With coordination from the European Commission, they help each other and other countries in disaster response. The Republic of Macedonia [MIC ed.] has already benefitted from this cooperation in the summer of 2007, when it requested assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to cope with the outbreak of forest fires; six European countries responded by sending aerial fire-fighting means and other equipment. Now the country is eligible to apply for EU financial support for transportation of its assistance to other disasterstricken countries. Its civil protection practitioners can also participate in EU training programmes, exercises and projects for disaster prevention and preparedness. The trainings and exercises have special value, because life-saving disaster response could not be adequate without investment in prior practical preparation, test of procedures and swift exchange of knowledge and information. For this reason, the European Commission has been supporting and co-financing a wide range of prevention and preparedness activities, from awarenessraising to field exercises simulating emergency response. Candidate countries for EU Membership are eligible to join the Civil Protection Mechanism by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Commission. They can also benefit from pre-accession regional cooperation programmes (IPA) aiming to enhance their disaster management capacities and to support their approximation to the EU activities in the field of civil protection. Collaboration in this area also has a valuable spill-over effect and has been proven to extend to other areas of common interest.
How it works in practice: the example of forest fires
Fighting forest fires in Europe is an excellent example of European solidarity in action, and of how the EU Civil Protection Mechanism works. Countries from Southern Europe are particularly prone to forest fires during the summer months. In the summer of 2012, for example, Portugal was struggling with a series of fires in the central part of the country. Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the Portuguese government asked for assistance and within a day, two Canadair fire-fighting aircraft from Spain were deployed to assist in the fire-fighting operations. Thanks to EU funding, another two aeroplanes from France have helped to tame the fires in Portugal. Similarly, Slovenia loaned to Albania a fire-fighting aeroplane for a six-day mission. In response to Montenegro’s request for assistance, two fire-fighting helicopters from Croatia joined the fire-fighting operations in the affected areas. This sharing of capabilities allows European countries to respond massively and rapidly to control and extinguish fires. In this case, solidarity is not just an ideal, it is also rational.
The Emergency Response Centre: raising up to the challenges
In mid-May 2013, the Civil Protection Mechanism received a major boost – its operational heart was upgraded through the creation of the Emergency Response Centre.
The SEECP and EU Civil Protection: Solidarity in Action 41
Its ambition is to ensure better-coordinated, faster and more efficient disaster response to the benefit of European citizens and the victims of disasters around the world. This is especially good news for the participating states of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The Centre, based at the European Commission, is staffed 24/7, and therefore is able to deal with several simultaneous emergencies in different time zones. It is receiving and analyzing appeals for assistance from affected countries and serves as a hub to support coordination at various levels: the European Commission, Member States, the affected country, humanitarian partners and civil protection teams deployed to the field. This can ensure the European assistance meets the real needs on the disaster scene and that there is no unnecessary and expensive duplication of efforts. The ERC has opened the door to other innovations, on which the European Commission has made legislative proposals to the European Parliament and the Council. They can boost even further the cooperation in disaster management – and hold a lot of potential for the countries of South-Eastern Europe. Our proposals will enable Europe to move away from an ad hoc response to one which is pre-planned, predictable, and immediate. At present, the deployment of EU civil protection assets is based purely on voluntary ad hoc offers of Member States’ assistance. There is an inevitable degree of improvisation and decisions can be delayed. In situations where every hour counts, Europe needs a system that is pre-planned and can guarantee that key assets can be mobilized swiftly. One of these innovations is the creation of a pool of assets and experts that Member States can commit and put on standby, ready for deployment in crisis situations. These assets- “civil protection intervention modules” (e.g. medical staff, search and rescue teams, water pumps to contain floods) – will be made available on a voluntary basis by the countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and will play an important role in the coherent European disaster response. The pool will build on the modules that already exist – 148 of them have already been registered by EU Member States, covering a wide range of disasters, from forest fires to floods. This will allow for instant deployment of European response whenever the need arises. To support the scheme, the European Commission will finance large parts of the operations. Already today, operations carried through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism can be co-financed from the EU budget – a practice that can be even more beneficial through streamlining procedures and increasing the offers of assistance.
Disaster prevention and risk reduction
Responding to disasters has always been high in the public attention, and rightly so. But with the growing intensity and frequency of disasters, we are increasingly concerned not only with how to respond, but also how to prevent crises, or at least reduce the risk of disasters happening. In recent years, the European Union has come to realise how crucial prevention is: it can save lives and avert damage, it can spare money and in general – contribute to sustainable development. One example is the comparison between the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010. The Chilean earthquake was many times stronger than the one that rattled Haiti – but thanks to Chile’s excellent prevention and preparedness policies, there were only 521 fatalities and limited damage, while in Haiti the disaster caused the death of 212,000 people and massive destruction of critical infrastructure. Investing in prevention also makes economic sense. The World Bank has estimated that every Euro invested in prevention yields between 4 and 7 euros in returns! In addition, recent research carried out by the European Commission (the ClimateCost Project) has shown that investments in flood management can save the EU economy €5.5 billion a year by 2020 and €20 billion a year by 2050. To stimulate EU Member States and candidate countries to invest in prevention and preparedness, the European Commission has made it possible to allocate money from the EU budget to projects in this area.
42 South East European Cooperation Process
Comprehensive approach to disasters
EU policies on disaster management complement the work of Member States and never replace it. But we live in a complex world where the number of disasters and conflicts is growing. This is why all public bodies – local, national, regional, European – need to continuously improve their instruments for disaster management. This is why the European Commission is committed to developing a “comprehensive and consistent European Union disaster prevention framework”. A first step in that is to effectively linking up all the players that have a responsibility for disaster management. If we look at EU Member States we see that the most effective systems at national level are those where the different players involved in disaster management have established a reliable network for efficient communication and collaboration. Second, we are working on improving our understanding of how best to deal with disasters. This means making sure that all the information that already exists is collected in a way that is easily shared and compared. It means exchanging best practices and investing in focussed research – for example by improved early warning systems that can alert for floods or other disasters. In particular, we need to improve our understanding of the specific risks that are faced. Risk mapping allows policy makers, planners, investors and individuals to make informed choices. It also allows the development of scenarios for different types of incidents and, based upon these scenarios, the drawing up of contingency plans. This is why the Commission has proposed that Member States prepare risk management plans. An understanding of risk will become the departure point for develop contingency plans for a collective European response to major disasters. These plans will help us to exchange best practice and learn from each other in addressing these risks. They will help us identify where additional investments are needed in disaster prevention. Preparing to face the main risks will form the basis of targeted training and exercises. Third, we need to integrate the awareness of disaster management into other EU policy areas. In practical terms this means changing the way we design our infrastructure. It means land-use policies that are sensitive to the risk of disasters. And it means allocating sufficient funding to prevention measures. Moreover, we need to build up the resilience of our societies. This means investment in things like flood defences. But it also means making sure that all other investments are “disaster proofed” – in other words, that risks are rigorously assessed and factored into planning decisions, whether in the construction plans of buildings or of roads. Investments need money and in the current difficult economic climate, investing in disaster risk reduction may not be the most obvious priority. But to convince citizens and ministers about the relevance, urgency and potential of such investments, more need to be done to raise awareness about the need for better disaster management and the risks that we face. No-one likes to think about the worst-case scenario, but it is only once risks are made clear and known that they will be properly factored into policy choices. We need to develop a culture of risk awareness and risk aversion. We live in a changing world where disasters are on the increase. Embracing disaster prevention is definitely a challenge, but also a necessity that will save lives, limit damages and thereby contribute to climate change and environment objectives and ultimately - save money. For exactly these reasons, we need to address this challenge head on and without delay.
Europe’s ever-improving capacities in disaster response, and most notably the ERC, are the result of over a decade of experience we have accumulated jointly through our close cooperation with European countries and international organisations. We keep improving our capacities. The ERC is at the service of all of us, providing better protection for Europe’s citizens and supporting a more effective response to humanitarian catastrophes in third countries.
The SEECP and EU Civil Protection: Solidarity in Action 43
The South East European Co-operation Process is an element of this bigger picture. The regional cooperation should facilitate the approximation of all countries in the region towards the European Union. I would like to recall that participation in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is open to the EU candidate countries. Croatia has already taken advantage of this opportunity and so did the Republic of Macedonia [MIC ed.] as the 32nd Participating State of the Mechanism. The status as either EU candidates or potential candidates mandates that these countries are the Commission’s first priority when it comes to international cooperation. Our ultimate goal is not only to progressively link the Western Balkan region to the Civil Protection Mechanism but also to ensure its full integration in the European future starting from now.
In the original text, the author is using the United Nations’ provisional reference when referring to the Republic of Macedonia. All changes by the publisher are clearly marked as [MIC ed.].
44 South East European Cooperation Process
H.E. Mr. Karl Erjavec, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia
SEECP as an Instrument for Cooperation and Solidarity in the Changing International Environment
The South East European Cooperation Process as an Instrument for Cooperation and Solidarity in the Changing International Environment 45
The South East European Cooperation Process as an Instrument for Cooperation and Solidarity in the Changing International Environment
n international relations regional cooperation is regarded as the best tool to promote good neighborly relations, coordinate areas of mutual interest and stirs countries and regions towards common future founded on common principles. In this respect it’s not surprising that regional cooperation holds such an important position in the geo strategic architecture of the SouthEastern Europe region (SEE), which has, over the course of history, seen its share of conflicts, instability and frozen relationships. In the last couple of decades the SEE region shared a common goal - the way towards the EU - which was a motor for necessary reforms within the countries and for enhanced cooperation among the countries. We must not forget that EU itself was constructed on the foundation of regional cooperation and this principle is enshrined into to very core of its structure. In this regard, the countries of the region had a good example of positive effects, which regional cooperation has on the improved neighborly relations, economic growth and strategic importance on the global arena. This knowledge was translated into concrete and viable regional cooperation mechanisms among the countries of the SEE, most notably SEECP, which today represents one of the most important frameworks for deepening and fostering cooperation in the context of SEE and also in providing a necessary tool for bringing the whole region closer to the EU integration processes.
A lot has been achieved, the region has emerged with a stronger regional identity in terms of trade, economic and political cooperation, but we have to be honest and fair: there is still a lot of work ahead of us. In this article I would like to outline the main challenges and questions of the regional cooperation in the context of SEE and also try to sketch few suggestions, which would enable the whole region to concretely benefit from the already established mechanisms.
The South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the European Union
Over the years, the SEECP has been active in promoting dialogue and good neighbourly relations based on economic, social and political partnerships, with common objectives: to contribute to the new European political, economic and security architecture; to improve national legal frameworks; to modernise economies and infrastructure and to streamline regional cooperation. These are serious challenges, but as always, it seems that the actual challenge arises in the implementation. Thus far, SEE has seen a plethora of regional initiatives, and it seems that the approach of the former Stability Pact for South East Europe overlapped with other forms of regional cooperation. The RCC is almost six years old, and the perception has been that its performance has
46 South East European Cooperation Process
somewhat declined with no clear regional ownership.1 International players often appeared to be marginally aware of other projects, and the countries in the region seemed not to have taken the lead in actively coordinating international assistance. A number of governmental and non-governmental organisations are based on the principle of consensus. The same practice has also been introduced into the SEECP and the RCC.2 Consensus-led policies have clear benefits: interagency cooperation and full agreement on strategic issues, which is crucially important for regional organisations dealing with projects, action plans, strategy and budgets. In the case of the SEECP and the RCC, it is impossible to build trust and confidence among members without consensus, despite the fact that political support is not always exercised in practice. The need for regional cooperation has been mainly evident in the field of justice and home affairs, private and civil law, such as labour and family law, inheritance and property rights and mutual recognition of civil court decisions. In the field of security cooperation within the SEECP, overall stability has improved, with six countries becoming members of the NATO, and five participating in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme. Three (including Croatia, four) SEECP participants are members of the EU through its security structures and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). In this respect, the RCC is encouraging regional cooperation in order to continue security sector reform, defence conversion and disaster risk reduction, and to meet the criteria, where applicable, for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. An additional strategic challenge that specifically affects the region involves the security of energy supplies (oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia transported to western markets). The need for secure energy supplies is common to both SEE and the EU.
The main problem in the past was that the states in the region did not want a serious regional political structure, while major international donors did not want some other body to coordinate their aid or strategies for them. In general, organisations are subject to decisions taken by their membership under whatever voting arrangements exist.
Despite the economic and confidence crisis in the Eurozone, economies in the region are continuing to prosper, while more investment and development opportunities are arising. The region needs support to build infrastructure, but unfortunately many SEE governments lack resources. Recent years have seen many promising developments in the region. Last year it became evident that both the EU and the countries in the region are committed to deeper cooperation. Despite political and economic stability and the enhanced rule of law, the region is still facing many problems. However, comparing the current state of affairs in SEE with the conflicts of the past twenty years, the progress is visible. The countries wishing to join the EU are the most positive sign. Owing to the stabilisation and association process, EU membership has become a realistic objective. However, investors and financial institutions consider the Balkans a difficult environment. One of the strongest areas of cooperation in the past two or three years has been CEFTA3. Trade has emerged as a very positive sign for the region’s integration, and support for the small and medium-sized enterprises has been enhanced. Compared to the previous three years, the European Investment Bank doubled the amount of loans in the last three years, totalling 4.5 billion euros. The second activity geared to increasing investment in the region has been public investment in the infrastructure, transport and environmental sectors. These on-going reforms, taking place under the pressure of alignment with the accession process supported by the European Commission, have had the positive effect of accelerating the realisation of projects, creating a more favourable business environment. This in turn has led to a significant increase in announcements of foreign direct investments in the region. I would also like to emphasise that the economic and financial crisis facing Europe is a challenge not only to the EU, but also to its enlargement. But, despite the signs of enlargement fatigue in some member states,
Central European Free Trade Agreement.
The South East European Cooperation Process as an Instrument for Cooperation and Solidarity in the Changing International Environment 47
the EU is not lessening its commitment and efforts to combat the possible delay in Europe’s integration process. Nobody is questioning whether it will continue, the question is only when. During the past few years, the process has become more complicated. To respond to the region’s needs, the European Commission is proposing a new enforced approach to guarantee that, before and during negotiations, it is possible to ensure that the candidate countries are moving in the right direction. For example, the soundness of this approach was verified by the visa liberalisation process. The principle of conditionality laid down by the EU is justified when European institutions demand firm but reasonable conditions from potential candidates and also respond when these conditions are met. What is needed above all is a realistic vision for the future resulting from the concrete needs of the region as identified by the SEECP and with clear guidelines on how the RCC intends to use the available resources in an effective and target-oriented way to achieve the objectives. The added value of the RCC should be concrete operational relationship with the SEECP and with the key actor, namely the EU, thereby ensuring effective inclusiveness in regional cooperation for all parts of the region. The various bilateral problems can be resolved only through the implementation of concrete projects. A realistic vision for the future exists. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia welcomed the initiative to exchange views on the SEE 2020 Strategy,5 and to present proposals for the future development of the SEECP and the RCC. The SEE 2020 strategy is similar to the Europe 2020 Strategy, but adjusted to the region’s specific needs. The members of the South East Europe Investment Committee (SEEIC) 6 supported a set of targets for integrated, smart, inclusive and sustainable regional growth by 2020. The ultimate objective is to make all SEEIC members more competitive and advance the EU membership of prospective countries. I am also confident that the dynamics of economic cooperation would be additionally intensified with the adoption of the RCC Strategy and Work Programme 2014–2016.
Future Cooperation through SEECP and RCC: more EU, more Euro-Atlantic integration and more enlargement
I am certain that the SEECP, together with the RCC, could play a role as an international forum for all interested parties, but this should not entail numerous meetings on practically every subject. The RCC should retain strategic ambitions in an agreed number of domains in key policy sectors, and the SEECP needs an authorised RCC which would represent the development and activities to the EU and other international players. This would help the EU deploy all its possible powers and resources to the region.4 SEECP membership should be regionally oriented, promoting donor co-ordination and focusing on sequenced technical assistance with fixed schedules. Where donors are involved, they should not be seeking an early exit, but be prepared for a sustained period of cooperation, especially when the main activity of an organisation relies on various projects.
Slovenia and regional cooperation
The Euro-Atlantic integration of the region is a strategic objective of all SEECP participants, and the SEECP can contribute significantly in this respect by decoupling
Adoption of the South East Europe 2020 Strategy, which should improve the economic conditions and living standard of region’s citizens, is expected to take place in November 2013. The SEEIC was established in 2007, based on a decision by members of the OECD and the countries of SEE to create a highlevel decision-making body to support and promote foreign and domestic investment in SEE. The RCC took over this responsibility over SEEIC in November 2011. The SEEIC has become a hub of regional cooperation.
The RCC would have the important role of ensuring the coherence of EU policies vis-à-vis the accession candidates with the task of defining how the whole region should best integrate in the medium to longterm, which is the only strategic option available.
48 South East European Cooperation Process
bilateral disputes and differences from regional cooperation. It is also clear that the SEECP and the RCC cannot be alternatives to wider integration processes, but rather important supportive or complementary elements. Essential in this respect is the collective understanding that several of the problems, such as systemic reforms, internal and external security, minorities and ethnic issues, organised crime and border control, are common and that their solution is in the interest of security, stability and prosperity. In this respect, we see the SEECP and the RCC as valuable instruments, with great potential for the future, putting into practice the declared political will and supporting national governments in promoting cooperation with their regional partners. A promising fact is that NGO’s, parliaments, the private sector, and local administrations are playing an increasingly effective role. The South East Europe 2020 Strategy is the RCC’s contribution to overcoming the economic crisis in the region. This should be at the centre of attention, and relations in the region should move forward, which is the only possible direction. Slovenia believes that development cooperation also ads to regional cooperation and has a long-term stabilising effect; therefore, the Resolution on International Development Cooperation of the Republic of Slovenia by 2015 – the key strategic document of the Republic of Slovenia on international development cooperation and humanitarian aid – defines the Western Balkans as the first geographical priority. Around 70% of our bilateral official development assistance is channelled to Western Balkan countries. Slovenian international development cooperation zooms in the following thematic priorities: good governance; the rule of law and social services, with an emphasis on accession to Euro-Atlantic structures; environmental protection, with a focus on sustainable water management; and the empowerment of women as a cross-cutting subject of development cooperation. We strongly support a regional approach to the development cooperation, which is intended to contribute to development, security and stability in the region. We have signed bilateral agreements on development cooperation and established regular dialogue with all the Western Balkan countries. Our development aid is focused on thematic priorities and the needs of recipient countries deriving from their national development strategies.
In the future, I would like to see the region tackle the outstanding issues in a spirit of pragmatism, through the promotion of faster and all-inclusive regional integration on an equal footing. Mutual respect and trust are essential in achieving results. After more than twenty years, I am confident that active regional cooperation is the best way to secure stable and sustainable development. What we should aspire to is more than regional ownership. What we call for is, in reality, a regional partnership.
The Macedonian Foreign Policy Journal May 2013, Special Edition
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Special Edition 2013
“Solidarity in Action”
Macedonian SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office 2012–2013
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