Newsletter 21/2012 - Our South East Europe
RCC’s measured and pragmatic approach towards unhindered regional cooperation
Every year since the launch of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in February 2008, the Secretary General of the RCC reports to the organization’s Board and 46-strong membership on regional cooperation in South East Europe and the Secretariat’s activities, engagement and achievements in a form of an integrated Annual Report. This report is then also submitted to the Heads of State and Government of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) for endorsement.
The Annual Report of the RCC’s Secretary General Hido Biscevic for the period May 2011-May 2012 was accepted by the RCC Board on 15 May 2012 and endorsed by the organisation’s 4th Annual Meeting held in Belgrade on 13 June 2012.
Looking back at the stated period, the latest Annual Report summarizes the greatest achievements in regional cooperation in South East Europe (SEE) in the previous year, but also highlights the remaining challenges and open issues that impede an advanced progress of the cooperation, linked with further mapping of the region within the European and Euro-Atlantic community.
“Change is evident – reconciliation and rapprochement have taken roots; social climate throughout the region is improving; human contacts are ever more relaxed and widened, from culture and sport to business; many issues from the past are resolved, whilst regional cooperation is becoming more effective and deliverable”, says Biscevic in the Report.
According to him, these positive trends provided solid ground for the overall transformation of social mindsets and for continuation of reforms related to EU accession of the aspiring countries from the region.
“The preservation of this trend is more than vital as the region needs to avoid any status quo or strategic vacuum in the context of a broader European and Euro-Atlantic goals, in particular given the political and economic consequences of the current crisis on the EU itself and, to no lesser degree, given the overall changes of the international agenda and priorities.”
Over the past four years, the organization has proved to be the leading provider and initiator of cooperation, in political, economic and social field. The 2011-2012 Annual Report reflects work and achievements of the RCC Secretariat in key regionally identified priority areas of cooperation.
Economic and Social Development
Following the overtaking of management of the South East Europe Investment Committee (SEEIC) from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the RCC Secretariat organised the 10th meeting of the Committee on 24-25 April 2012.
The meeting, held for the first time in the region and co-chaired by Albania and the RCC Secretariat, discussed the new mandate and repositioning of the SEEIC as the implementation vehicle for South East Europe 2020 Vision, and adopted its Work Programme for the period 2012-2013 and the Rules of Procedure. The transfer of SEEIC to RCC has been assessed as a major regional achievement which shows trust and reliability of the RCC.
Energy and Infrastructure
Energy and infrastructure, a key theme for discussions at variety of events throughout the region, hosts some important results such as the establishment of Sustainable Energy Development Regional Initiative (SEDRI) and Task Force, jointly launched by the Central European Initiative (CEI) and RCC, and promotion of sustainable energy development as a key to “green economy”. The RCC Secretariat also worked with relevant aviation authorities and air traffic experts with the aim to create conditions for better use of market access by developing air traffic services within South East Europe.
Justice and Home Affairs
Focus of the RCC Secretariat for the reporting period was obtaining tangible results for the benefit of citizens, for the security of persons and property and in bringing sustained improvements to the rule of law across the region. Thus the RCC initiated and elaborated the 2011-2013 Regional Strategic Document in the area of Justice and Home Affairs and the Action Plan for its implementation, as well as designed the Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism to measure the progress and the results of regional cooperation in this sector.
The RCC, recognised as the regional platform providing direct support to bilateral and multilateral cooperation initiatives by ensuring common regional political will, initiated regional mechanisms of cooperation among the Chiefs of Military Intelligence – SEEMIC, the Heads of the South East European National Security Authorities – SEENSA, and the South East European Counter-Intelligence Chiefs – SEECIC, which are indicative of a stable and progressive development of security cooperation in SEE.
Building Human Capital and Parliamentary Cooperation
Development of the Regional Strategy for Research and Development for Innovation for the Western Balkans as well as the establishment of the RCC Task Force on Culture and Society – in the framework of transition of the Ljubljana Process on cultural rehabilitation to the RCC – required efficient communication with both national institutions and international partners. The RCC was also actively involved in development and formulation of the project on Parliamentary Cooperation in the Western Balkans and Turkey – through support to Cetinje Parliamentary Forum.
Media development has emerged as one of the priorities of a paramount regional importance, being also noted in the European Commission (EC) Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2011-2012. Establishment and successful work of the European Association of Public Service Media in SEE, signing of a Protocol on Regional Cooperation in Education and Training among 12 members of the European Association of Public Service Media in SEE, and the international seminar ’South East Europe 20 Years On: Transformation from State to Public Broadcasting‘ for public media professionals, practitioners, managers, regulatory authorities and media organisations, co-organised with the EC Enlargement Directorate-General and supported by the Association and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), confirm the ability of the RCC to increase the number of areas where regional ownership is translated into concrete benefits.
- Streamlined regional activities to make cooperation more efficient, confirming RCC leadership in guiding and monitoring cooperation in South East Europe
- Helped attract over EUR 40 million for regional programmes and projects in South East Europe
- Took over management of South East Europe Investment Committee from OECD, with focus on South East Europe 2020 Vision
- Initiated dialogue with governments, social partners and CSOs on Social Agenda 2020 for Western Balkans to respond to regional challenges and boost social inclusion
- Helped create platform for joint action of stock exchanges in South East Europe to strengthen links among regional capital markets
- Launched the project Women Entrepreneurship as a job creation engine for South East Europe, with SEE Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning and Gender Task Force
- Supported national administrations in South East Europe to adopt and implement road safety acquis and lunched initiative to establish Road Safety Training Centre
- Initiated Regional Strategic Document and Action Plan 2011-2013 on Justice and Home Affairs, endorsed by SEECP ministers, and started annual monitoring and evaluation of its implementation
- Established, with Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, Integrity Experts Network – a regional structure of national agencies specialized in public officials’ assets declaration
- Initiated regional cooperation mechanism among Chiefs of Military Intelligence –SEEMIC, and heads of National Security Authorities – SEENSA
- Established RCC Task Force on Culture and Society and its Secretariat, as a new regional mechanism of preserving cultural heritage, building on Ljubljana Process
- Supported development and implementation of the project Building Capacity for Structural Reforms in Higher Education of Western Balkan Countries
- Helped establish European Association of Public Service Media in South East Europe as a non-profit professional body of public broadcasters and brokered signing of a Protocol on Regional Cooperation in Education and Training among members of the Association