Newsletter 8/2010 - In focus

AT THE TURN OF THE YEAR: NEW WINDS, NEW OPPORTUNITIES, by Hido Biscevic, Secretary General, Regional Cooperation Council

When one of the foreign ministers in the region recently said that the state of regional cooperation has never been better, at first it may have sounded like an overstatement reflecting the wish to portray a rosy picture that would serve the region's European ambitions. But, objective reality check does support this assessment – not only from the standpoint of the overall state of cooperation in the region during the last years, not to mention decades, but in particular in the year that is coming to a close.

Indeed, 2010 has witnessed a tremendous advancement of regional cooperation. One could seek rationale and motivation in the natural instinct to open up to neighbours as the crisis effects prompted national authorities to look across the border for partners to move out of the troubled waters. One could reflect on the genuine recognition of regional cooperation becoming increasingly a benchmarking requirement within the European Union (EU) accession process. Last, but hopefully the first, one is tempted to believe that the change is a result of a strategic and visionary policy decisions within the region that the time has come to enhance and accelerate deep mental, societal and political changes and move our countries, nations and societies out of patterns of the recent past towards the horizons of a new future.

Whatever the reasons, the results count. And results are evident – new political mindsets allowed for many courageous moves and decisions related to the recent tragic past and opened ways to a reinvigorated spirit of reconciliation, rapprochement, moderation, mutual understanding, appeasement and pragmatism.

And it is precisely these notions and principles that can ensure environment conducive to advancement of each and every specific individual national goal and interest, in particular against the backdrop of still existing and probably long-lasting differences over a number of open and unresolved issues in the complex landscape of our corner of Europe. At this point, it will be crucially important to build on this new atmosphere in the region when addressing the most important remaining issues: from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s post-electoral renewal of debate on constitutional arrangements ensuring self-sustainability and functionality of the country in a way that will enable its advancement towards Euro-Atlantic integration, to the commencement of an EU facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina, and resolution of a name issue further to the south and many other bilateral issues.

I am pointing to these three particular issues as they indeed pose the biggest remaining challenges to a completion of peace in our part of Europe. And I am sure that adherence to the said notions of reconciliation, moderation and pragmatism can best serve their resolution. The momentum is there, it needs to be used to move forward and overcome too costly stagnation.

The momentum is there also regarding EU enlargement policy. The latest progress reports of the Commission as well as the Council's decisions mark a reinvigorated commitment of the EU towards enlargement countries. An overview of the current state of play clearly indicates a long-awaited progress – with Croatia reaching the final stage of negotiations and expecting to complete them until mid-2011, Montenegro becoming a new candidate country, Serbia advancing and focusing on the questionnaire, and with clear indications for other enlargement countries as to their main challenges, it is evident that 2011 may solidify the enlargement momentum and move the aspiring countries further up the accession ladders.

Thus, the new spirit of rapprochement, renewed energy for functional and sectoral cooperation to meet the development needs of our countries also through regional approach, along with the reinvigorated EU enlargement momentum, create the most favourable conditions for the overall advancement of the region and, of course, for the Regional Cooperation Council to serve and contribute to this aim by working on a comprehensive set of projects and initiatives that would translate current positive trends into irreversible policy and measurable benefits, thus additionally supporting the EU enlargement policy in South East Europe.


RCC Secretary General Hido Biščević in front of Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Parliamentary cooperation and building of human capital are key RCC priorities. (Photo RCC/Samir Pinjagić)

RCC Secretary General Hido Biščević in front of Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Parliamentary cooperation and building of human capital are key RCC priorities. (Photo RCC/Samir Pinjagić)