Newsletter 14/2011 - Our South East Europe

New modalities of strengthened parliamentary cooperation in South East Europe

Parliaments, as legislators, play a crucial role in promoting and implementing reforms of any country.  Therefore, functional and efficient parliaments represent a key element of political stability, economic development, social cohesion and overall trust in democracy, which is especially important for new democracies of South East Europe (SEE).

Efficient and democratic parliaments are extremely important for each SEE individual country but cooperation among these parliaments is equally important for sustainable progress and development of the SEE region and for the individual countries' European agenda.

Assessing the current level of parliamentary cooperation in SEE, Ranko Krivokapić, Speaker of Parliament of Montenegro, says that parliamentary cooperation within the SEECP is strengthening.

"It is especially important to say that every year's Conference of Speakers of Parliament creates a new impulse and additionally moves the limits of mutual cooperation to a higher level."

"The Final Declaration of the 8th Conference of the Speakers of Parliament, organized under the previous Turkish SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office (C-i-O) and subsequently the Final Declaration of the 9th Conference of the SEECP Presidents of Parliaments, which took place on 13-15 June 2011 under the Montenegrin SEECP C-i-O, opened the path to further strengthening of the parliamentary cooperation in SEE."

The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) plays an increasingly important role in supporting a strengthened parliamentary cooperation, says Dorin Vremis, Junior Political Advisor at the RCC Secretariat.

"Its Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013 indentify two priorities in this area. One relates to strengthening the Parliamentary Dimension of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP). The Cetinje Parliamentary Forum is the second spotlight of the RCC."

Vremis adds that the significance of parliamentary cooperation in the region was witnessed by an increased devotion and commitment of the SEECP participating states to advance the cooperation process.

Krivokapic explains that one of the results of the joint work and cooperation of the regional Speakers of Parliament was an idea on creation SEECP Parliamentary Assembly that was inaugurated by Declaration from the Conference of SEECP Speakers of Parliament held in Antalya, Turkey in June 2010. 

"The idea on advanced institutionalization of parliamentary cooperation is certainly something that deserves serious attention and a comprehensive analysis, primarily from the point of the effects that it would have on all-inclusiveness and quality of future parliamentary cooperation in our region."    

While explaining the activities towards realization of this idea, Krivokapic says that   during the Montenegrin SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office, a working group tasked with proposing modalities for further development of parliamentary dimension in South East Europe was established.

"During the Serbian SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office this working group will continue with the activities they have already started. We hope that, at the next Meeting of the Speakers of Parliament, there would be some concrete results that could provide a more complete and clear vision justifying establishment of such an institutional framework. "

Georgi Pirinski, Vice President of the National Assembly of Bulgaria expresses the views of his country's delegation related to possible modalities for further development of the SEECP parliamentary dimension, leading to its’ further institutionalization that was discussed at this year’s Conference of SEECP Speakers of Parliaments.

"The Bulgarian delegation’s argued opinion was that the most efficient format would be an assembly in the form of an institutionalized Parliamentary Conference with a flexible structure, focused on a limited number of priority issues of common interest to member-countries."

According to Pirinski, this format would best serve the double task of the parliamentary dimension to both foster cooperation between Parliaments and at the same time perform an overarching role regarding the various fields of intergovernmental cooperation.

"The institutionalized Conference format would thus be the logical next step in line with the Memorandum of Understanding on Inter-parliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe, signed at the 7th Speakers’ Conference in Sofia in April 2008, which spelled out the objectives and mechanisms of cooperation, as well as the functions and operation of the Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation SEE, hosted by the National Assembly of Bulgaria."

Developing the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum into a hub for enhanced coordination of parliamentary activities related to the EU acquis in the Western Balkans, through its institutionalization and establishment of a sustainable Secretariat, is the second RCC's priority for action in the parliamentary cooperation domain.

“RCC's role in developing and promoting a parliamentary project under the framework of Centinje Parliamentary Forum has been appreciated at the 9th Conference of the SEECP Presidents of Parliaments”, says Vremis.

"The inclusion of the parliamentary cooperation in the framework of the Multi-Beneficiary Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (MB IPA) Strategy 2011-2013, as one of the priority areas of MB IPA Working Group on Public Administration and Governance, represents a noteworthy achievement in this context."

“The core RCC role as set in the Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013, is to assist the SEECP in developing the parliamentary dimension of its work, through a close cooperation with the SEECP Troika and the Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe”, concludes Vremis.

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RCC identified parliamentary cooperation in South East Europe as a priority in its Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013 (Photo: http://sofiaecho.com/)

RCC identified parliamentary cooperation in South East Europe as a priority in its Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013 (Photo: http://sofiaecho.com/)