“Regional Initiatives, especially regional-owned initiatives like the Western Balkans Fund, are paramount for the European perspective of our Region”.
This is what the Executive Director of the Western Balkans Fund, Mr Gjergj Murra underlined during his intervention at the Budapest Balkans Forum of 2023.
Furthermore, Mr Murra stressed that “on the level of people-to-people links, our experience of more than 150 projects, 1.700 applications and 5.800 stakeholders shows that there has never been a problem between us”.
“The Western Balkans Fund is the embodiment of the soft power of the Berlin Process. A process which is based on “hard” connectivity, such as roads, energy grids and network, but that cannot be complete with the people to peoples link”, he continued.
During his intervention, part of the panel, “The more, the merrier. Regional Cooperation Initiatives in the Western Balkans”, the Executive Director concluded by encouraging international donors to be more present in the Region and more welcoming towards grassroots organisations.
“From our experience, we know that great, innovative and forward-looking ideas came not only from Belgrade, Sarajevo or Tirana but even from the most remote parts of our Region. We cannot afford to overlook such initiatives and places”, claimed Mr Murra.
During the panel, experts and other participants agreed that a clear European Perspective for the Western Balkans Region has become much more important in the face of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Budapest Balkans Forum is one of the most prestigious yearly events that aims to shape current and future development in our Region.
Today’s session kicked off with the “The Western Balkans: New dynamism and old challenges” session, attended by Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary; Bujar Osmani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia; Olta Xhaçka, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania and Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia.
The Budapest Balkans Forum is organised by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the International Visegrad Fund.