Establishment of Western Balkans Fund

Establishment of Western Balkans Fund

Based on the model of the International Visegrad Fund (IVF), and in the framework of the Annual Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Visegrad countries and of Western Balkans countries, an Agreement on Establishment of Western Balkans Fund (WBF) was signed on November 13th in Prague, by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia.

The Fund will be based in Tirana and will provide financing and co-financing of small and medium projects in WB countries in the fields of common interest such as education, environment, human rights, culture, youth exchanges, cross-border and regional youth cooperation, which will be accessible to a wide spectrum of actors. It is expected that by the beginning of 2016, the Agreement will be ratified by all Western Balkans countries Parliaments, and civil society will be invited to the first constitutive meeting, when the pillars of the WBF will be decided upon. All interested WB CSOs can now get involved by getting in touch with countries’ respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliaments, and raise the issue of involvement of civil society, models of governance and management of WBF

The Parliamentary Commission of Foreign Policy discussed the draft law “For the Ratification of the Agreement of the Western Balkan Fund and its status”.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati, was invited in the hearing session. Mr.Bushati said that the fund will have its headquarters in Albania, and its first director will be an Albanian diplomat. The General Secretariat will be led by the Prime Ministers of the member countries in this fund.

“The main purpose is to encourage cooperation between our countries through joint projects, mainly regional. The proportions of the projects and the area of activity is limited. We are talking about small and average project, no giant ones. The preliminary budget of the respective governments is 30.000 EUR from each member state”, Minister Bushati said.

“Croatia and Slovenia are not part of the Western Balkans, in the terminology of the EU. You know that these six other countries are called Southeastern Europe. You know that Southeastern Europe is much wider, but we are talking about a very positive initiative, the first one with its headquarters in Tirana. This should be greeted”, Dade declared.

The Albanian Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati, addressed to the European Integration Commission in which he gave explanations about this fund, which Majlinda Bregu said it is based on the strategic partnership and it is welcomed.

Gramoz Ruci said that the creation of this fund gets the region closer to the EU, and the participation of Kosovo is very positive.
Balkan hopes for EU funds

What is the Western Balkans Fund (WBF)?

WBF is a cooperation platform between the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia), set up by the successful model of the International Visegrad Fund.

What purpose WBF activity will serve?

The purpose of the WBF is to promote common values and develop regional cooperation between citizens, civil society and institutions of the Western Balkans region, providing a concrete "people-to-people" approach for the populace of the member countries.

WBF objectives will be drafted in cooperation with civil society actors and based on common priorities of the countries of Western Balkans.

WBF will finance projects in various fields of common interest such as education, environment, human rights, culture, youth exchanges, cross-border and regional youth cooperation.

How will WBF operate?

WBF will operate through support and co-financing of small and medium projects in Western Balkan countries. According to the model of the Visegrad Fund, the mechanism of application for funding will be simple and accessible from a wide spectrum of actors ranging from individuals to the youth organizations, regional civil society networks, academic and research institutes, etc.

Where will WBF headquarters be?

WBF is the first regional initiative based in the capital of Albania. Its offices will be in Tirana and the first Executive Director of the organization will be an Albanian diplomat with experience in the field of regional initiatives. WBF Secretariat will be established with the technical assistance of the Visegrad Fund and will work through coordination of annual priorities of Western Balkan countries.

What are the expectations for the WBF activity?

WBF will increase interaction between different actors in the region by strengthening the common values of society and regional cooperation in various fields of common interest.

Regional projects will contribute to the growth of the potential of civil society and the exchange of experiences between different actors in the region.