Preparatory Forum

Civil Society and Think Tank Forum 2024

    On July 9-11, 2024, the Southeast Europe Association and the Aspen Institute Germany, with generous support from the German Federal Foreign Office, will host the Civil Society and Think Tank Forum 2024 Preparatory Forum in Skopje, North Macedonia. This will be the first of two major events this year and will lead up to the Main Forum in Berlin in mid-October. Both the gatherings will mark the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Process, a vital platform for fostering cooperation and integration of the Western Balkans.

    Since the second summit of the Berlin Process in Austria in 2015, the Civil Society and Think Tank Forum has become an integral part of the Berlin Process, enabling civil society to contribute constructively to the region’s development. This year’s Forum will not only produce policy recommendations but will also review progress and identify opportunities for further advancement within the Berlin Process, in seven key areas.

    The Preparatory Forum empowers seven thematic working groups to discuss pressing issues and develop concrete policy recommendations. The working groups will each focus on multiple areas and address various issues. Working Group A will be dedicated to EU Integration and the Berlin Process, examining the progress made over the past decade and proposing recommendations for its future. In addressing social issues, Working Group B will focus on Dealing with the Past and Reconciliation, while Working Group C will be concerned with Gender and Diversity. Economic challenges and opportunities will be tackled by Working Group D, which will be centered on the Common Regional Market and Mobility. The green agenda is covered by two working groups: Working Group E will address Energy, Climate Change, and Decarbonization, and Working Group F will focus on Environment Protection and Sustainable Economic Development. Lastly, Working Group G will deal with Disinformation and Cyber Threats. Each of these groups will consider crosscutting issues such as youth, the rule of law, national/ethnic minorities and local perspectives as they review the achievements of the Berlin Process over the past ten years and put forward their recommendations.

    Over two days of constructive discussion, attendees will produce key solutions to pressing issues facing the region while fostering new connections between Western Balkan civil society and think tank communities. Following the Preparatory Forum, the recommendations that will be decided upon through discussions within the workgroups will be highlighted. These recommendations will then be discussed with experts and government representatives at the Main Forum in mid-October 2024. This overall process serves the purpose of strengthening the voice of the civil society, addressing areas of concern and discussing how to address fundamental issues to foster democratic societies.

    The Forum will take place as part of the “Western Balkans Initiative: Engagement for Progress and Stability” project, kindly supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.