Getting people to talk and listen to each other is often no easy task. Putting that talk into action is even more of a challenge; and, when the people in question are Southeast European and EU leaders, the added weights of both history and expectations enter the equation. This year at the Western Balkans’ Summit in July, leaders made a commitment to not only discuss, but to make efforts to move forward on issues of regional cooperation- meeting after the summit in both Podgorica and Tirana to further their work and keep the momentum moving towards progress in practice. The CDRSEE, dedicated as always to open public discussion about issues affecting citizens of both SEE and the EU, played a role in raising public awareness about SEE regional cooperation and accession through a special episode of ‘Vicinities’ on the sidelines of the Summit in July. Once again making history, the episode brought together 2 Prime Ministers, 1 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs from the region to share a panel and interact with a live studio audience.
As the summer draws to a close, we have a number of exciting new regional projects underway and are continuing to work on our long-term projects, based, as always, on principles of cooperation between groups, countries and communities. The signs from the Western Balkans Summit so far, indicate that the leaders of the region are thinking along similar lines – understanding that cooperation brings mutual benefits-and that the leaders of the EU have accession issues high on their agendas.
Despite unsettling current events on the international stage, the CDRSEE continues to believe that Southeast Europe and the EU can kick the trends of populism, antagonism and division that have characterised international politics in recent months, and will move closer together towards an inclusive and prosperous future.