Newsletter 28/2013 - Activities in brief

Job-creating strategy for South East Europe presented by RCC

The first draft of the South East Europe (SEE) 2020 strategy for creating one million new jobs in the region was presented by Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in a series of consultative workshops held in Skopje (10 September), Prishtina (11 September), Podgorica (13 September), Sarajevo (16 September) and Zagreb (17 September), while another two are scheduled for Belgrade (18 September) and Tirana (1 October).

The SEE 2020 strategy is being prepared by the RCC Secretariat, in close consultation with governments and initiatives from South East Europe. The strategy’s Coordinator and Senior RCC Expert on Economic and Social Development Sanjin Arifagic, along with other RCC experts, presented the strategy to the local stakeholders in presence of the EU Delegation representatives.

The basic goal of the SEE 2020 is to improve living conditions in the region and bring competitiveness and development back in focus. In that sense, the document draws inspiration from the EU strategy Europe 2020. Its most important targets include: employment growth from 39% to 44%, increase of total regional trade turnover by more than double from 94 to 210 billion euro, the rise of the region’s GDP per capita from current 36% to 44% of the EU average, and addition of 300,000 highly qualified people to the workforce.

Achieving these targets should contribute to generating 1 million new jobs in South East Europe by 2020. To make this happen, innovation, skills and trade must be upgraded and national governments will need to be far more efficient than they are nowadays.

The events are being organized by the RCC Secretariat, in cooperation with respective ministries in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo *and Serbia.

The presentations represent opportunities to discuss the strategy, collect feedback from and engage a wider group of stakeholders, as well as expand the stakeholders’ base to include governmental sector, civil society, private sector, donors and other interested parties.

All relevant regional organisations participate in the strategy development under RCC auspices. National institutions have a key role: ministries of economy, education, employment, healthcare, justice, culture, environment, relevant agencies. International organisations, such as the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will also provide support.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence

EU approves €2.8 million for restoration of three Western Balkans heritage sites

European Commission announced investing €2.8 million into three Western Balkans sites that have been chosen for an EU-funded project to support preservation and restoration of cultural heritage in the region. The decision was reached at the meeting of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Task Force on Culture and Society, held in Novi Sad, Serbia, on 15-16 July 2013.

Projects to be finance are: the Franciscan Monastery of Bac in Serbia, Banja Luka Kastel in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Apollonia Archaeological Site in Albania.

“European Commission decided on three sites chosen to be financed under the special EU grant, whose implementation will raise impact and visibility of Ljubljana Process”, said Wenceslas de Lobkowicz, Advisor for Cultural Heritage in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement.

Mladen Dragasevic, Head of Building Human Capital and Cross-Cutting Issues Unit of the RCC Secretariat, emphasized importance of synergy between all current activities within Ljubljana Process and the role of RCC Task Force on Culture and Society, as coordinator of the culture and creative industries dimension of the South East Europe (SEE) 2020 strategy.

“As the main component of the RCC Strategy and Work Programme 2014-2016, SEE 2020 will focus on concrete, tangible results in rehabilitating cultural heritage and its contribution to economic and tourism development of local communities and countries in the region.”

The sixth meeting of the RCC Task Force on Culture and Society also adopted the Interim Narrative Report on the activities of the Task Force and its Secretariat since April 2013. The participants reviewed South East European Heritage Assessment Reports and the progress in establishing national task forces, developing business planning and fundraising methodologies.

The meeting, organized by the Task Force Secretariat, has gathered high-level officials from RCC participants in South East Europe, representatives of the RCC Secretariat, and the European Commission.

Academy on Media Law in South East Europe discusses pluralism in media, public service broadcasting and internet freedom

The second edition of the Academy on Media Law in South East Europe (SEE) was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 3-5 September 2013.

Its participants proposed ways to increase pluralism of content and views in the region and the independence and accountability of public service media. They also emphasised that a high number of media outlets in the region does not equal plurality of views, content and sources. Although viewers can choose between plenty of channels, political and economic interests prevent pluralism of views. Therefore, the Academy recommended that the public service media reach out to stakeholders, including parliamentarians, media councils and civil society, in order to better promote the role of public service broadcasters and the public service remit.  

Agreeing on the lack of qualitative data on media pluralism, the participants suggested surveys to evaluate both internal pluralism, with public service broadcasters to assess pluralism of content within public media, and external pluralism, to assess pluralism of views in a particular country. Furthermore, the Academy discussed ownership structure of the media, state advertising, new, online media, its contents, legal framework and responsibilities, credibility, violations, etc.   

The Academy on Media Law gathers media professionals, practicing media lawyers, legislators/parliamentarians, government officials, members of media regulatory and self-regulatory bodies, civil society and academia from SEE, dealing with media freedom issues.

It seeks to enhance cooperation in the development and implementation of progressive media legislation in SEE in line with international and European media standards. It aims at safeguarding media freedoms and the right to freedom of expression by sharing and learning from the best legal frameworks and practices in the enforcement of media standards in the region.

The three-day event was implemented under the auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council and in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, OSCE field operations in South East Europe, the European Broadcasting Union, the European Association of Public Service Media in South East Europe and ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression.[1]

[1] Further partners to the Academy on Media Law in South East Europe are: OSCE Presence in Albania, OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, OSCE Mission in Kosovo, OSCE Mission to Montenegro, OSCE Mission to Serbia, OSCE Mission to Skopje, and the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.