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Secretariat participates in the Civil Society Forum Tirana under the Berlin Process

Tirana, 27 April (IC) – The Secretariat participates in the Civil Society Forum Tirana under the Berlin Process, which was held in Tirana during April 26-28 2017, with the support of ERSTE Stiftung, European Fund for the Balkans, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, SOE Dialogue Southeast Europe, in cooperation with CDI (Cooperation Development Institute).

Civil Society Forum, which is an important initiative within the Berlin Process, brings together over 100 participants from countries of the region and the European Union with the aim of fostering dialogue between citizens and decision-makers, as well as enhancing cooperation between the civil society organisations of the Western Balkan countries.

The Civil Society Forum Tirana 2017 was built upon the achievements of the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Vienna 2015, and the Civil Society Forums in Belgrade, Paris and Skopje in 2016. The event was to serve as a preparatory meeting to the Western Balkans Summit 2017, which will be held in July in Trieste, Italy. This time the Forum was built up on the broader issue of civil society contributing in setting the European agenda, in making and debating policy proposals, monitoring policy results and achievements, and on formulating key messages and recommendations concerning the topics of the Trieste Summit, such as:

  • Reflections about the current state and the future of the Berlin Process
  • Youth cooperation
  • Rule of law/anti-corruption
  • Business environment and innovation (including role of SME (small and medium enterprise) and innovative platforms for cooperation)
  • Bilateral issues

In her speech, in the working session “Business Environment & Innovation Potential in WB6”, Head of IC Secretariat, Ms Diana Leka said that “Good policy frameworks are crucial if we are to meet the global/regional challenges. The idea is that the social partners, through dialogue, should identify challenges and find solutions on the labour market. Currently, some key important barriers/challenges to SMEs are Access to Finance especially for microenterprises, and talent management (grants, studies).”

Among other, Ms Leka said that “Targeted government policies toward the SMEs are crucial for SMEs to contribute to reducing unemployment. Young businesses/start-ups have great creative ideas but do not have sufficient info on incentives. If we want to acquire more investment we need a platform for cooperation.” Head of Secretariat, mentioned that in a study case carried out by Secretariat regarding labour skills in the market, “advanced skills” came out as critical elements for the performance of the sector, while there is a gap in the quality of the curricula at certain levels of education. Therefore, it is recommended to consider as soon as possible the integration of the new “core” knowledge at certain levels of education with a focus on 1) analytical skills (problem-solving) 2) foreign languages, 3) computer skills, 4) communication skills. And eventually, a close collaboration between the academia and the business.

The Forum’s conclusions and recommendations shall be presented to the heads of states and governments that will attend the Trieste Summit on the 12th of July 2017. This meeting marks a very important step in strengthening civil society in the Western Balkans, through its involvement in regional decision-making.



The Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Series is focused on establishing a sustainable and relevant second-track platform in the so-called “Berlin Process”, creating an impetus for debate among decision makers and wider Europe. The series was launched with the idea of being recognised as a relevant segment where governments and politicians in the region can continuously maintain closer cooperation with civil society now and in the future.

The Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans is a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans, ERSTE Foundation and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The local partner of the Civil Society Forum Tirana 2017 is the Cooperation and Development Institute Tirana.

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