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"Regional cooperation shall also include the civil society level"94 was stated in the Final
Declaration by the Chair of the Conference on the Western Balkans, in Berlin, in August 2014.
The clear mentioning of expectations from civil society opened the way for a more structured
contribution of non-governmental sector. Furthermore, by emphasizing the role of an active civil
society and of its constructive support in the further enhancement of the democracy in Western
Balkans,95 the German presidency gave to the local CSO contribution an institutional legitimacy.
WB6 CSOs took this opportunity and started immediately to prepare their participation in the
Vienna Summit.
Immediately after the Berlin declaration and under the strong support of the Austrian Presidency,
civil society actors from the region got organised to bring their voice to the table of the politicians.
CSOs from WB6 and from some EU member states used this opportunity to meet, coordinate,
draft a coherent message and present it in the framework of the Western Balkans summits.
CSOs have been present in the Vienna and Paris Summits, and have in-between regularly
organised regional meetings or national activities focussed on the Berlin process dynamics.
The Berlin process has given a new impetus to the regional cooperation amongst WB6 civil
society organisations, and to the interaction of civil society and decision makers.There have
been initiatives, other than the structured participation of CSO in the WB Summits, either
covering the Berlin process, or mentioning it as a very important regional initiative. They are
mostly research papers or round tables. To our knowledge there has been only one sustained
activity at national level in the form of CSO monitoring of BP engagements, “Albania in the
Berlin Process”96. In the regional level, the most important activity is CIFE cycle of round tables
“Post Paris, Post Brexit” organised in Paris and then all over the WB6.97
VI.1. Vienna affirmation (24-25 August 2015)
The consultation process between the civil society actors started before the end of 2014. Under
the strong impulsion of Austrian Presidency, Friedrich Ebert Foundation and ERSTE Stiftung
supported and organized a series of meetings all over the WB6 with local CSO representatives.
The discussions were organized around the topics of "Jobs & Prosperity", under the lead of
FES; "Regional Cooperation" under the lead of European Fund for the Balkans; and "Freedom
of Expression", under the lead of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). More
than 120 civil society activists, members of think tanks and media met many times to prepare
on these topics, in view of the preparations for the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans,
which became a component of the agenda of the Western Balkans Summit Vienna 2015.
The results of the CSO regional workshops were further discussedin Vienna in 26 August 2015 in
two workshops consisting of three breakout sessions and a plenary meeting. Specific attention
Final Declaration by the Chair of the Conference on the Western Balkans, Berlin, 28 August 2014.
A politically active civil society can also provide constructive support as regards the further strengthening of
democratic communities in the countries of the Western Balkans, thus also bringing these states closer to the EU",
CDI, in collaboration with FES, HSS and KAS started in 2015 the preparation of yearly conferences “Albania in the
Berlin Process”, held every October under the German October initiative. In between there have been sectorial
monitoring activities on migration, youth cooperation and connectivity. More info can be found at www.cdinstitute.
For more information, please see: