Newsletter 4/2010 - In focus

NEW RCC STRATEGY FOR 2011-2013, by RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic

As twelve presidents and prime ministers from South East Europe drew their Summit meeting in Istanbul to a close, on 23 June, after an earlier meeting of their ministers of foreign affairs, there was an overwhelming sense of optimism grabbing hold of all of us present around the table in the solemn hall of the Chiragan Palace.

More than ever during my tenure as Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), I felt that the region is finally and truly on the move and that the notion of what regional cooperation really means and could provide for has irreversibly taken roots. As I listened to all the participants, noting that they mostly share one and the same idea, that of a necessity to grasp the moment and cooperate in the name of development, there was a feeling of satisfaction. The mission and the messages of the RCC have been heard and felt. We have made an impact. We have served the idea we were established for.

And then, going through the nuances of political debate on the state of play in the region, one could also sense a new opening – good neighbourliness and cooperation were mentioned on each and every occasion not only as a matter of political correctness, but as a true recognition: a new era is dawning and we all need to contribute and participate.

Rapprochement was a key word, followed by the genuine emphasis on mutual understanding, dialogue and appeasement. Even though several outstanding issues are still on the table waiting to be tackled and resolved, what encouraged the most is the new political will, new political mindsets ready to confront the controversies from the past in a manner that would open a way to the future.

In addition, encouragement and optimism stemmed from a shared recognition that the region needs to confront its current and long standing under-development in many sectors on the basis of regional approach. A regional recovery and development plan was mentioned in almost all discussions.

The Istanbul Summit highlighted a very simple, but not always obvious enough message: reconciliation and rapprochement in the name of recovery and development.

We need to work together beyond old stereotypes and prejudices in order to overcome insufficiencies and under-development that we all share in many important economic and social areas.

Against this background, under the current Montenegrin Chairmanship-in-Office of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) – and with its membership expanded by Slovenia joining the group, enjoying full RCC support evidenced during the RCC Annual Meeting that preceded the SEECP Summit – the RCC Secretariat and me personally will have a new wind in the back to continue and to deliver in the period ahead.

It is now necessary to translate positive trends and tendencies in the region over the past period, supported by the reinvigorated EU enlargement commitment, into a historically irreversible process supported by joint regional efforts aimed at accelerating development.

I am sure that the RCC Strategy and Work Programme for the next three years, adopted by the RCC Board and endorsed by the Istanbul Summit of the SEECP Heads of State and Government, provides us all with a solid base and impetus for building our better future.

Please see an article in this newsletter by Deputy RCC Secretary General, Jelica Minic, for a more detailed overview of the RCC strategy.

Hido Biscevic took office as the first Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council on 1 January 2008, following the appointment by the SEECP foreign ministers in Zagreb on 10 May 2007. He was reappointed to the post on 22 June 2010 at the Istanbul meeting of the SEECP Foreign Ministers. A Croatian diplomat, Mr Biščević previously served as the State Secretary for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Croatia (2003-2007), as well as at a number of other high-level diplomatic posts. Before joining the service, Mr Biscevic was editor-in-chief of the Croatian daily Vjesnik.


Hido Biscevic, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council. (Photo RCC/Dinka Živalj)

Hido Biscevic, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council. (Photo RCC/Dinka Živalj)