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Think Balkans, the importance of thought for our shared future

29 September

The Economist recently praised the think tanks for their crucial role in putting under control the Covid-19 pandemic.

We believe that a similar level of expertise and innovation will be crucial for developing the changes and policies that will permit the WB6 to move quicker towards complete EU Integration.

In this matter, the WBF Executive Director, Dr. Gjergj Murra, was invited today to a conference organized by our partners, International Visegrad Fund, regarding the Cooperation Instrument for the Western Balkans Think Tanks.

Under the guidance of IFV, the Western Balkans Fund is an important regional player, engaged in enabling a vast network and fostering structured dialogue on issues of strategic importance for the region.

Our approach and support towards the think tanks and civil society organizations are developed with the respective support of our MFAs.

REMARKS OF GJERGJ MURRA, EXCECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF WBF IN THE “THINK BALKANS” CONFERENCE

Dear Madam Minic,

Dear Madam Velinovska,

Leadies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to address this event!

Two years ago, in Poznan, an important Think Tank Forum format was initiated during the Polish Presidency of the Berlin Process.

It was an approach that allowed for a more structured policy dialogue to be stirred with policy experts.

Following the success of the Poznan Forum, the Think Balkans Mechanism has started to become operational, capitalizing on the issues dealing with cross-border cooperation and on a unified qualitative approach to the EU integration process.

Therefore, Mrs. Minic, dear colleagues, allow me to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of you for your dedication and for becoming frontrunners in connecting the regional dots of intelligentsia.

You might know better than us, that contrary to public perception, the WB6 area is one of the richest in the World in terms of think tanks per capita.
If numbers were important, we would be champions of thought. But numbers do not matter. The truth is that we still have a lot to accomplish to reach the “power of the mind” ‘s desired excellence, and most importantly, to strengthen its links at the regional level.

The discourse about thinks tanks’ development and impact is inseparable from the debate on democracy and democratic societies.

As part of the civil society, think tanks operate in a policy environment with the public good as its ultimate beneficiary. The stronger the ties of think tanks/civil society and the public, the greater the guarantees of democracy.

This is why I am so very enthusiastic about the Think Balkans Project. Under Visegrad Group guidance, and with the support of the International Visegrad Fund, we have already started working on achieving some key milestones:

– First, by creating a vast network of brain in the region.

– Second, by breaking the exclusive dependence on domestic funds and resources.

– Third, by formulating a new approach and better tools, that will successfully replicate the Visegrad countries’ model in the WB6

Ladies and Gentlemen

In the framework of this project, we are proud to partner with some of the best-known think tanks of this region and some of the most important civil society organizations.

As partners, we believe that Western Balkans Fund can play an important role in developing think tanks and their cooperation in the region.

We are already a unique regional reality, which has helped connect the dots between more than 3.400 regional stakeholders over the last four years.

We have a great deal of experience in supporting regional projects, including research or academic projects.

We have had great success in establishing cross-border partnerships.

And because of our status as an international organization established by the Foreign Ministries of WB6, we can become an important hub in facilitating new connections between public entities and civil society organizations.

Western Balkans Fund has been an avid believer and supporter of the Think Balkans Mechanism since its establishment. Now, as foreseen in the last MoU with International Visegrad Fund and with the sustenance of our Council of Senior Official’s we are considering more concrete and substantial support.

It is in the best interest of everybody to break the current enlargement impasse. And the best way to do that is by generating and sharing new ideas, a new approach that helps our region grow united and grow European.

Allow me to conclude, with a famous quote. “Power of thought is the greatest force on Earth. And, indeed, the only thing that has ever led to a substantial change, is the power of a small group of thoughtful, committed people eager to cooperate”

Confident in the progress and the success of keeping together!

Thank you for your attention