Newsletter 27/2013 - In focus


The end of May 2013 marked a big step forward for the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the beginning of a new era for regional cooperation in South East Europe (SEE). In Ohrid, participants of the organisation’s 5th Annual Meeting endorsed the new strategy for the 2014-2016 period focused on SEE 2020 – a Job-Creating Growth and EU Integration Strategy, and the annual report on its activities over the past 12 months, which was also approved by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP).  

The RCC benefited enormously from the strategic synergy with the former SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office (C-i-O) held by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Its leadership in strengthening regional cooperation and progress in SEE under the motto “Solidarity in Action” augmented RCC’s capacities to pursue its mission in the best interest of the SEE participants.

There have been many developments in the region proving positive effects of nurturing reconciliation and tolerance, moving forward to solving some of the open and protracted issues and assuming a greater responsibility within the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union (EU) that deserves wholehearted congratulations. It is the first country from the region to join the EU following the establishment of the RCC – a true success story.

The other participants are progressing on the European and Euro-Atlantic integration path as well, albeit in their own way, and hopefully will be greeted respectively. The latest European Commission (EC) recommendations on the EU perspectives of Serbia and Kosovo* are very encouraging. They come following the recent agreements reached between Belgrade and Prishtina, in the context of the dialogue facilitated by the EU, and constitute a major step forward towards strengthening regional stability and confirms that each issue could be solved through dialogue.

Overall, this positive momentum reminds us about the shared purpose agreed 10 years ago, in 2003, at the Thessaloniki Summit. This is an anniversary worthy of observing. It should also focus our attention to the present duality in the region, whereby the struggle between going forward and lagging behind, absorbs the potential needed to ensure durable results in many vital sectors. The situation is exacerbated by different perceptions about what constitutes real and immediate problems.

This is why the conditions in the region should be conducive to stimulating economic growth and social stability, rekindling the infrastructure, upholding the rule of law and further aligning judicial systems and law enforcement mechanisms to EU and international standards, ensuring security and promoting freedom of expression. In other words, durable reforms and policies at the national level should reinforce the role of the EU enlargement policy.

Regional cooperation is one of the means to facilitate this, by fostering genuine dialogue, reconciliation, stability, prosperity and, of course, it is an important EU membership pre-condition.

At this point, we take note with satisfaction of the intended new Western Balkans initiative, aimed at promoting the concept of mutual relations among its participants, and recall in this respect the role of RCC as the all-inclusive and regionally owned- framework for coordinating regional cooperation in SEE.

The decision of February 2013, allowing full respect of the principle of all-inclusiveness within the RCC, showed that the region can cooperate in an atmosphere of tolerance, mutual trust and respect.

In order to seize the positive momentum and turn the tides against the current multifaceted consequences of the economic crisis in SEE, the RCC focused on prioritizing its areas of work, displaying flexibility in its approach, increasing visibility for the general public and exhibiting a constant vision of the ultimate goal.

Together with the RCC participants from SEE and with the significant support of the European Commission, the RCC prepared its second Strategy and Work Programme covering the period 2014–2016, with the SEE 2020 - a Job-creating Growth and EU Integration Strategy as its central pillar.

The SEE 2020 Strategy has been designed on the basis of Europe 2020 flagship initiatives and amended to suit the needs and specific conditions of the region. It is based on five pillars: integrated, smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, underpinned by good governance. The countries of the region should try to make the best use of the SEE 2020 Strategy and its Action plan in order to address the economic development priorities and make it more competitive, thereby bringing it closer to the EU. A full political support of the governments concerned, naturally, would ensure the much needed steppingstone. We expect the documents to be adopted towards the end of 2013.

I am fully confident that the new RCC Strategy and Work Programme with SEE 2020 Strategy as its main pillar, endorsed by the RCC Annual Meeting, will represent a timely response to the consequences of the economic and financial crisis. Also, to make this happen, the national governments will have a key role in the implementation process.

In the period ahead, the RCC will continue to work vigorously, together with our participants, partners and stakeholders in meeting the targets set before us, relying strongly on the new SEECP Chair-in-Office.

Goran Svilanović took office as the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council on 1 January 2013, succeeding Hido Bičević, the first RCC Secretary General. Svilanović previously served as the Co-ordinator of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (2008-2012) Chairman of Working Table I (democratization and human rights) of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe (2004-2007), and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (2000-2004). He holds a Ph.D. in law from the Union University in Belgrade, as well as Masters and undergraduate law degrees from the University of Belgrade.

* 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.



Goran Svilanovic, RCC Secretary General (Photo: RCC)

Goran Svilanovic, RCC Secretary General (Photo: RCC)