The CDRSEE was once again among the think tanks, institutions, experts and civil society representatives invited to take part in the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkan Series, in Skopje. CDRSEE’s Executive Director Ms Zvezdana Kovac was assigned the role of moderating the agora discussion “Bridges or Walls: Macedonia and the Western Balkans in Europe” between the Prime Minister of the FYR of Macedonia Mr Zoran Zaev and Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy and Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics of South East Europe at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Dr. Ioannis Armakolas. The discussion’s focal point was interethnic relations in the region of Western Balkans and regional initiatives aimed at bridging divisions among societies.
With reference to the panel’s title Mr. Zaev stated that most of the regions politicians, citizens and CSOs are focused on building bridges. In the past year and a half, he added, his country has built bridges within itself, with Bulgaria and Greece. “No country in the Balkans, not even Greece, can not achieve progress on its own. Our country is small and will improve itself only through integration with others”, Prime Minister Zaev said. He further expressed his confidence that the Prespa Agreement will be implemented sooner or later. Professor Armakolas, on his part, agreed that enough bridges have been built between the Western Balkan states and that the Prespa Agreement, despite its unpopularity in both countries involved, is one of them. “We all have a picture of what kind of society we want to live in – a European-style one. And that is already a unifying factor”, Professor Armakolas stressed.
The panel was attended by a large number of civil society and media representatives and elicited great interest.
Following the regular edition of this year’s Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Series that took place in London in July, an interim edition of the Forum was opened in Skopje on October 7, 2018. Entitled “Civil Society Engagement in the Berlin Process Revisited” the Forum and organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the European Fund for the Balkans concluded its works on October 9, 2018, after two days of compelling panel discussions that addressed topics related to the civil society’s contribution to the attainment of the of the Berlin Process goals.