Newsletter 16/2011 - Activities in brief

South East European health ministers sign Banja Luka Pledge committing to work towards health in all policies

Health ministers from South East Europe (SEE) signed the Banja Luka Pledge indicating the commitment of the countries’ health ministries to working towards health in all policies at the Third Health Ministers’ Forum, in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 14 October 2011.

The Forum, entitled Health in All Policies in South-eastern Europe: a Shared Goal and Responsibility, was attended by health ministers from10 countries of the South-eastern Europe Health Network (SEEHN) , which are also members of the RCC, and partners such as the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Development Bank, the International Organization for Migration and policy-makers from different sectors.

The Pledge-signing ceremony marked successful completion of this two-day meeting, which was devoted to considerations of the responsible authorities on how to involve other crucial sectors in reducing death and disease in their countries.

The Pledge expresses the dedication of the signatories to work towards sustaining and strengthening regional cooperation in public health in SEE; achieving equality and accountability in health; strengthening public health capacities and services for control and prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and working more closely with partners to upgrade and make the best use of their unprecedented support. The Ministers also acknowledge the need for a Europe-wide development of public health.

The Health Ministers’ Forum is a unique body that was set up in the context of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, following the economic collapse and conflict that tore parts of the region apart in the 1990s. This meeting also marked the Forum’s 10th anniversary during which its member countries have worked closely together and with the World Health Organization (WHO)/Europe in a formal regional cooperation on public health, now supported by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). 

Health in all policies is an approach that is high on the public agenda. The WHO is developing a new European policy for health and well-being, Health 2020, that endorses this approach and builds on the lessons learned from the implementation of the Tallinn Charter: Health Systems for Health and Wealth. In addition, the political declaration on NCDs made by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2011 stresses the need to strengthen national policies to support multisectoral national policies and plans. That declaration came just after the WHO’s European governing body, comprising representatives of the 53 countries in the European Region, endorsed WHO/Europe’s action plan on NCDs. These major policy milestones are based on sound evidence of what works.

The Forum was organized by the SEEHN Presidency, Executive Committee and the Secretariat, jointly performed by WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Council of Europe in the framework of the Reginald Cooperation Council and in collaboration with Bosnia and Herzegovina, represented by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Republika Srpska. 

South East European public media sign Protocol on regional cooperation, under RCC auspices

Under the auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat, directors general of 12 public broadcasters from South East Europe signed a Protocol on Regional Cooperation in Education and Training among members of the European Association of Public Service Media in South East Europe, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 30 September 2011. 

In his opening address, Hido Biscevic, RCC Secretary General, said that the signing of the Protocol is a proof that, regardless of oscillations in political and socio-economic conditions in South East Europe, the region has continued moving forward.

“Education and training are key to ensuring market competitiveness, as only the well-trained staff are able to keep abreast with technological and societal challenges of the fast developing world, and as such can fulfill the public service remit of the members of the Association.”

 The Protocol sets a number of important objectives, with the crucial aim to enable staff at all levels to meet present and future challenges and strengthen the contribution of the public service media to the development of modern democratic societies in South East Europe.

 They include raising professional standards and quality, efficiency and editorial independence of the public service media; fostering and strengthening reliability, diversity and respect for all layers of society; identifying best practices and innovation; actively contributing to building common training and education policy; and exploring opportunities and pursuing joint initiatives to promote greater competitiveness of public service media.

Josip Popovac, President of the European Association of Public Service Media in South East Europe and Director General of the Croatian Radio-Television, underlined that the signing of the Protocol sets a tone of seriousness and commitment to the existing cooperation of the public broadcasters in the region.

“Results achieved by the Association in its just-around a year long life prove that regional cooperation is possible and as the Association’s President, I will work towards ensuring that what has been agreed upon gets implemented. The support of the RCC, the European Commission and the European Broadcasting Union in this respect is extremely valuable.”

The third Meeting of the Education Committee of the Association was held in advance of the Protocol signing, on 29 September 2011.

The signing of the Protocol was supported by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). A European Union representative also took part in the meeting. The event was co-organized by the Association, the Radio-Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT), and the RCC Secretariat.

The Protocol on Regional Cooperation in Education and Training among members of the European Association of Public Service Media in South East Europe is available HERE.

Military intelligence chiefs from South East Europe step up cooperation

Twelve chiefs and senior officials of military intelligence from South East European countries, members of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), agreed to move forward regional cooperation in the field of intelligence exchange and adopted the rules of procedures putting the cooperation in practice. 

The Third South East European Military Intelligence Chiefs Conference (SEEMIC) was hosted by the sector for Military Intelligence and security affairs of the Ministry of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina and co-organized with the RCC Secretariat, with support of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The meeting took place in Sarajevo on 13 October 2011.

The initiative is a continuation of the First and the Second SEEMIC Conferences, held in Bucharest and Belgrade in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In Belgrade, the military intelligence chiefs signed a statement on cooperation among military intelligence institutions of RCC members from South East Europe.

The participants agreed to establish and develop cooperation in the field of security threats, and join efforts in improving intelligence sharing at the regional level. The documents adopted outline the future practical implementation of the stated will for cooperation.

The statement on cooperation remains open for signature to all the chiefs of military intelligence institutions of the RCC members from South East Europe.

The event gathered chiefs and representatives of military intelligence services from twelve South East European countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey, the RCC and the European External Action Service.

The fourth SEEMIC meeting will be hosted by Bulgaria in 2012.

South East European education inspectors hold first training at Regional School for Public Administration

The first regional training of education inspectors at the Regional School for Public Administration (ReSPA) was held in Danilovgrad, Montenegro on 4-7 September 2011.

The two-day event provided an insight into different modules determining the role, status, competencies and activities of education inspectors in South East Europe. This was an opportunity for the participants to have professional development and training at the regional level delivered by experienced experts from the EU and the region.

Participants of the training included representatives of education inspectorates and other institutions responsible for education inspection from South East Europe, as well as from relevant international organizations and other stakeholders.

The training sessions focused on the role of inspectors in quality assurance and sustainable Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education policies, vocational education training in schools and priorities in national education systems.

While stressing the important role of the education inspectors in strengthening quality of education systems, Mladen Dragasevic, Head of Building Human Capital Unit at the RCC Secretariat, said that they promoted improvement and innovation, equality and positive attitudes to social and cultural diversity in all services that are inspected.

“By bringing together key stakeholders, the RCC Secretariat aims to stimulate increased participation in the design and implementation of relevant policies in the future.”

The event was co-organized by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the RCC Secretariat, in partnership with the ReSPA, the European Training Foundation and the Council of Europe.