July 12, 2024
News/Events Sarajevo The Secretariat

Full Statement | Address by Mr. Josip Brkić, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Distinguished Ambassadors, Excellences, Representatives of the international organizations offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Western Balkan Fund Executive Director Mr. Murra, Members of the Western Balkans Fund Council of Senior Officials, Fund’s grantees, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

It is my great honor and a pleasure to welcome you to this event, celebrating BiH Presidency of the Western Balkans Fund for 2024.

As one of the main priorities of our diplomacy, our goal is well known: to show in practice that we are reliable partner, genuinely and constantly contributing to all processes that brings our region, our economies, and our societies closer to each other, in the contest of the wider European integration processes.

We have invested and we will continue to invest in this directionstrongly and persistently!

In this context, we consider Western Balkans Fund, as an all-inclusive and regionally owned Organization directly managed by the MFA-s of WB6 Region, as an important instrument and strong partner!

Over the years, the Fund has proven itself as a unique cooperation mechanism and a good example of how to put the needs before differences in pursuit of a common goal.

It has asserted itself as one of the most effective instruments encouraging cooperation in the region, including in the most important element of such cooperation – the people-to-people contact through personal relationships.

Supporting regional values and cohesion, promoting reconciliation through people-to-people links are at the core of WBF activities.

In this respect, through joint projects implemented by civil society organizations and other stakeholders, the Fund has become an important instrument, acting as a bridge between the Government and the Civil Society Sector – the backbone of the democratic societies.

Thanks to this instrument, we have an added and efficient tool to promote good neighborly relations and European Integration.

With this event, we would also like to increase the visibility of the WBF, so that as many civil society organizations and youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina as possible become familiar with the work of the WBF and the possibilities of financing their ideas and projects. Bosnia and Hercegovina, during its Presidency of the WBF in 2024 also want to promote the importance of the WBF in the wider international community.

Since its establishment, the Fund has financed around 250 regional grants/projects, supporting the creation of more than 930 partnerships throughout the region, involving more than 15.000 direct beneficiaries.

Its success is a clear indication that there is a genuine will, readiness and maturity of ordinary people and Civil Society in our region to cooperate and interact in joint activities and projects.

The success of WBF is a merit of the hard work of its Secretariat and Executive Director. But it is first and foremost the success of the very same idea that encouraged the establishment of the Fund in 2017-n: The idea of a future shaped by wide-scale cooperation, reconciliation, and people-to-people links all over the Western Balkans Region.

This is the second time that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken over the chairmanship of the Fund.

In 2018 we facilitated the launch of the Fund, through organizing the first WB6 Conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, that paved the way to the successful growth of the Fund in the coming years.

We aim to have a similar long-lasting impact also throughout this year!

Especially regarding the further diversification of the grant portfolio of the Fund, the introduction of new grant schemes, and towards the increase in the Fund’s regional importance and visibility.

Today we will award four new projects from Bosnia and Herzegovina, an equal number with all the other Contracting Parties. In the meantime, there are many more stakeholders from our country that are awarded as partners in projects run by other civil society organizations from other places in the Region.         

Our country has the most diverse portfolio regarding the geographical spread of the projects originated from: Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar, Zenica, Tuzla, Doboj, Trebinje, Rudo, Foča, Lukavac, Široki Brijeg, Mrkonjić Grad and others.

Using this opportunity let me thank our trusted partners for their support for our Fund.

First the European Union: WBF and EU are implementing a joint action called: Support to the promotion of Civil Society regional actions in the Western Balkans. The first phase in total value of 1.4 Million Euros is successfully completed and the second phase with another 1.4 Million Euros has just started in January 2024, at the same time as B&H is taking the Chairmanship in Office of WBF. We will continue to invest in this partnership, to make it bigger and stronger.

Secondly: The Swiss Government. Grateful for the support to our Fund in the last 4 years, assisting its growth both in organizational and programing. Through it, more and more people in our region can interact with each other in Move Grants and WBF is becoming more and more present and visible. We look forward to further enhancing this cooperation in the forthcoming period.

Thirdly: Our close partners – V4 Group Countries and the International Višegrad Fund, for their continues support and encouragement and for exploring new programs aiming to better share the mutual experiences of our neighborly regions.

Fourth Japan: that has backed many important advocacy regional events organized by WBF, as integral part of their foreign policy toward WB.

We look forward to opening new partnership opportunities with other donors, to extend further the boundaries and influence of the Western Balkans Fund, enabling a beautiful and common success story.   

At the end, I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate the strong commitment of Bosnia and Herzegovina to its EU path, and to highlight that we hope to have further good news from Brussels later this month.

Thank you for your attention.