Reaction to Brdo Summit


Reaction to Brdo Summit by civil society actors in the Western Balkans

25 October 2021

We, the undersigned civil society actors applaud the Declaration, statements and remarks made by the leaders of the European Union (EU), EU Member States and Western Balkans (WB) at the EU-WB Brdo Summit on 6 October 2021.

We fully support the restated commitments made by the EU with respect to the enlargement process and its determination for the decisions to be based on credible reforms by WB countries, fair and rigorous conditionality and the principle of own merits. Similarly, we support the commitments by the WB leaders with respect to democracy, rule of law, human rights, fight against corruption and organized crime, gender equality and the rights of minorities.

We especially appreciate the EU support for the WB countries reaffirmed commitment to inclusive regional cooperation and strengthening good neighbourly relations, including with EU Member States. And the emphasis on empowered civil society and independent and pluralistic media as crucial components of any democratic system, particularly given the worrying trends of shrinking space for both.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a significant mark on our societies and economies, which makes us deeply grateful to the EU Member states who stood by the WB by providing health and socio-economic support including by adopting an Economic and Investment Plan for the region. Also, prompt and efficient implementation of the recently launched Innovation Agenda for the WB will likely create further opportunities for the youth, and help address the brain drain as one of the most challenging issues the region is faced with.

We commend the WB leaders for acknowledging that decisive efforts are required to foster reconciliation and regional stability, as well as to find and implement definitive, inclusive and binding solutions to bilateral disputes and issues rooted in the legacy of the past. However, we are still witnessing raising ultra-nationalism, hateful rhetoric, democratic decline, rise of authoritarian tendencies and hybrid attacks on democracy throughout the region. We are also disappointed that the WB leaders did not fulfill their 2014 pledges to remove all the barriers to freedom of movement of people, such as the visa regime between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, and the obstacles to travel between Kosovo and Serbia.

At the same time, the EU has failed once again to deliver on its promises made to the WB countries such as starting the accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia and providing visa liberalization for Kosovo, despite the progress made by the former and all of the visa liberalization benchmarks fulfilled by the latter. By not delivering on its promises, the EU is seriously undermining its credibility in the WB and the trust and hopes that citizens in the region have placed in the EU.

Almost 20 years after the Thessaloniki Summit, the EU integration prospects for the WB countries seem more unclear, and region’s future more insecure. Whereas heightened tensions within and between the WB countries are a clear evidence that the situation can rapidly escalate and lead to violence. Such a situation provides opportunities for various actors in the region and outside of it to exploit the shortcomings to consolidate their influence and agendas which may undermine peace and prosperity of the region and of the EU.

The stakes are high. The EU Project needs the WB, and we want to enter the EU family. The citizens of the WB are the ones that most benefit from becoming part of the EU family and the ones that directly suffer from broken promises and from our governments’ failures. Failing to make the EU integration of the WB a strategic priority followed by convincing evidence that go beyond the repeated commitments will expose the region to further threats and vulnerabilities, and will very likely lead to citizens in the WB countries losing faith. In which case it will become irrelevant whether broken promises and limited progress or whether citizens in the region were ill-informed, placed high hopes or had false expectations with regards to EU’s role in the WB and/or EU integration prospects for the region.

We, the undersigned, are united by the shared desire for peace and stability in our region and a common interest in taking our place in the EU family. We are here to turn words into action, and committed to working with WB governments, EU institutions and EU Member States to fulfill the aspiration of the citizens of the region – the full integration of WB countries in the EU.

The EU and its Member States should fulfill their promises made to the WB citizens. WB countries should fulfill their pledges made for years. WB citizens deserve a more promising future 

Signatories alphabetically:

1. Albanian Center for Good Governance (ACGG), Albania

2. ALFA Centar, Montenegro

3. Arjeta Maka, civil society activist, Kosovo

4. Asocijacija za promociju poslovanja (APROPO), Bosnia and Herzegovina

5. Association for Democratic Prosperity (ADP– Zid), Montenegro

6. Avdyl Gashi, civil society activist, Kosovo

7. Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN), Republic of North Macedonia

8. Balkan Green Foundation (BGF), Kosovo

9. Build Green Group, Albania

10. Building Blocks for Success (B.E.N. NGO), Kosovo

11. Center for Advocacy and Democratic Development (CADD), Serbia

12. Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), Montenegro

13. Center for Economic Prosperity and Freedom (CEPS), Montenegro

14. Center for Education and Gathering (COD), Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina

15. Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS), Serbia

16. Center for Political Courage (CPC), Kosovo

17. CIVIL, Republic of North Macedonia

18. Community Business Development Center (CBDC), Kosovo

19. Debate Center, Kosovo

20. European Movement in Serbia (EMinS), Serbia

21. Fondacija za Razvoj i Demokraciju (FRD), Bosnia and Herzegovina

22. Forum MNE, Montenegro

23. Gender Alliance for Development Centre (GADC), Albania

24. Global Shapers Community Prishtina, Kosovo

25. GUIDKES-Kosovo Tourist Guides Association, Kosovo

26. HandiKOS, Kosovo

27. Humanity in Action, Bosnia and Herzegovina

28. iACT, Montenegro

29. Initiative for Progress (INPO), Kosovo

30. Institute for Democracy and Development (IDD), Republic of North Macedonia

31. Institute for Development Policy (INDEP), Kosovo

32. Institute for Project Management and Development (IPMR), Republic of North Macedonia

33. Institute for Territorial Economic Development (InTER), Serbia

34. Instituti per Zhvillim dhe Integrim (IZHI), Kosovo

35. International Debate Education Association (IDEA), Republic of North Macedonia

36. Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), Kosovo

37. Kosovo Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (KYATA), Kosovo

38. Krenar Shala, civil society activist, Kosovo

39. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), Serbia

40. LGBT Forum Progress, Montenegro

41. LGBTIQ Social Center, Montenegro

42. Mirjana Maslovar, civil society activist, Montenegro

43. Mitrovica Women Association for Human Rights, Kosovo

44. Montenegro Film Festival, Montenegro

45. NGO 4 LIFE, Montenegro

46. NGO AKTIV, Kosovo 

47. NGO Be Active 16, Serbia

48. NGO Department of Inclusion, Serbia

49. NGO The Future, Serbia

50. OJQ “Gruaja Hyjore” Gjilan, Kosovo

51. OJQ Qendra e Gruas “ATO” Vushtrri, Kosovo

52. OJQ VISION 02, Kosovo

53. OTTOnomy, Albania

54. People In Need – The Western Balkan Office

55. Protection and promotion of Environment, Culture and Art (proECA), Kosovo

56. Qualitative Institute for Researches, Analysis and Trainings "iCHAT", Kosovo

57. Research Center for Security, Defense and Peace (ICBOM), Republic of North Macedonia

58. Romska Nada, Bosnia and Herzegovina

59. Shoqata "Iniciativa e Pavarur e të Verbërve", Kosovo

60. Shoqata Iniciativa e Grave, Dragash, Kosovo

61. Shoqata Kulturore "Dituria", Serbia

62. Social Workers Organization of Kosovo

63. SUBVERSIVE FRONT, Republic of North Macedonia

64. The Balkan Forum

65. Valon Arifi, civil society activist, Serbia

66. Women's Association Aureola, Kosovo

67. Xhejrane Lokaj, civil society activist, Kosovo


69. Youth Center Drenas, Kosovo

70. Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) Kosovo

71. Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) Serbia

72. Youth Resource Center, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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