The most important political event of the Western Balkans Fund, the third WBF Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs was organized in Warsaw, Poland on April 12th.Ministers discussed social projects aiming at bringing our region closer to EU. Full support to approved projects for stronger regional cohesion in WB . Below you will find some citations of the WB6 Ministers about the Fund’s work during their speeches:
When we established WBF few years ago, no one could envisage that in a relatively short period, this organization will become an active regional actor, focusing on fostering good neighborly relations, enhancing regional cooperation and promoting “Soft Connectivity”. Just to mention that in such a short time the WBF has launched two Project Calls and received about 600 project applications with approximately 2,300 organizations participating. This is a success story. It is our success story.
Last year at our Ministerial conference in Sarajevo, we decided to double our contributions to the budget of the Fund. It was an important decision and our common signal concerning the importance that we all attach to the civil society activities in our region. This increasing of the contributions will allow us to increase the number of the granted projects in the second call. The start of its operations proved that the WBF has become an important tool in order to strengthen relations and promote common values among citizens and civil society by bringing people from the whole of our region to know each other and to exchange through different projects in their common interest.
We all knew that setting up the WBF would not be an easy process; but we knew better that the Fund is part of what we all need, to bring our people and societies together. For this, we must build on this spirit and commitment and make the WBF our common success story. The Fund in a short period of time and it is important to say relying almost entirely on our own forces, of the contracting parties, and relatively small but very efficient secretariat led by Dr. Gjergj Murra to whom we are all grateful for his great work and very proactive approach, managed to identify and address issues of main concern for our region.
WBF is one of the most active elements of our successful cooperation and understanding in the region. For the first time in the recent history of the region, this mechanism, with clear regional ownership, has opened a path of cooperation in the field of culture, science and research, youth exchange and the promotion of sustainable development, in a manner similar to how other European regions have merged and strengthened cooperation at one point.
We express satisfaction of the work of the WBF so far. The successful realization of the two calls for projects support is the best example of the European value of this regional instrument, which involved a large number or representatives from the NGO sector, education and local self-government in joint project activities with their neighbors.
In the two years of its existence the Fund has demonstrated and proven itself as a unique cooperation mechanism and a good example to other initiatives of how to put the needs before differences in pursuit of a common, overarching goal. In these two years, the WBF has gone a long way and asserted itself as one of the most effective instruments encouraging cooperation in the region, including in the most important element of cooperation – the people to people contact through personal relationship.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.