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“Think Visegrad” think tank model to be replicated in the region

5 October 2021

Western Balkans can’t afford to lose more time in its quest to bridge the development gap with the EU.

This is why think tanks have a crucial role to play for the future of our region.

Under the “Think Visegrad” model, the WBF is committed to unconditionally support the establishment of a “network of intelligence” in WB6.

This expertise will embolden our institutions’ capacities, helping them reach correct, well-informed decisions.

Under the auspices of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of Europe, the WBF Executive Director, Mr. Gjergj Murra, delivered today a speech focused on the integration of the Western Balkans and the role of Visegrad Countries as part of the Think Balkans Project.

Full Remarks of Gjergj Murra, Executive Director of the WBF (AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY)

Dear Katja

Dear Marko and Petar

Distinguished participants

It is a pleasure to meet you again, albeit non-physically, to discuss an issue of crucial importance for the future of our region.

Think tanks were born out of policymaking failures that ignited the First World War. If the think tank network had been strong enough then, maybe the history would have been much different.

But one thing was true 100 years ago and remains true to date. Our policymaking is not fail-proof. And there is only a proven way to avoid failure. To listen to the right voices.

Western Balkans especially, is a region that in the past has lost precious time. We can’t afford to lose time again.

We need to narrow the development gap with the rest of Europe as quickly as possible. To do so, we need a proper center of expertise to lead the way.

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

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, with a unified and qualitative approach with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in WB6 contracting parties.

What we need in our region is a replication of the successful “Think Visegrad” model, an inclusive platform focused on issues of strategic regional importance.

A “Think Balkans” network of think tanks, able to prepare long-term analyses focusing on the most significant priorities of our region, as well short-term analyses reflecting the most current and urgent topics, is crucial for our future.

This expertise should embolden our institutions’ capacities, helping them reach the correct decision, or at least make a well-informed decision regarding regional integration and sustainable development.

Ladies and Gentleman

After the Belgrade meeting, we are approaching a stage in which, for the first time, we will harvest the fruits of this truly monumental work in a regional scale.
In this regard, today’s conference is an occasion to extend, yet again, our sincere gratitude to our trusted partners from V4 Group and IVF for their political and technical support for the creation of this crucial instrument of cooperation in our region.

Encouraged by the support and partnership relations of the project with MFA’s in the region, as relevant beneficiaries of your products, let me stress and highlight the advice for keeping as close as possible connections with the focal points in the respective ministries.

Knowing the regional landscape well, I am enthusiastic about the Think Balkans mechanism!

I firmly believe that Western Balkans Fund may become the natural partner of the initiative, playing an essential role in developing think tanks and their cooperation in the region.

Not only because WBF has a great deal of experience supporting regional projects, including research or academic projects. But, mainly because of our status: established and wholly owned by the Foreign Ministries of WB6.

This position makes us an ideal partner for becoming a top hub in facilitating new connections between MFA-s and civil society organizations, including Think-Tanks.

Western Balkans Fund has been an avid believer and supporter of the Think Balkans Mechanism since its establishment.

As also foreseen in the last MoU with International Visegrad Fund and with our Council of Senior Official’s sustenance, we are considering more concrete and substantial support.

With my request, WBF has already included in the agenda of discussions with the Council of Senior Officials, in 7-8 October, the topic of a regional-based approach with think tank institutions.

Henceforth, we will investigate the possibility of accommodating more financial capabilities to support the regional network of think tanks in general and Think Balkans in particular.

The level of the WBFs contribution will depend a lot on what will be agreed upon in this meeting.

However, one way or another, we will be happy to be part of this excellent team of stakeholders, one of the best I have ever seen.

Proud to be in the same boat with such enlightened organizations that have turned “vision in the art of seeing things invisible.”

And confident in the progress and the success of keeping together!

Thank you for your attention