THE DAYTON FOUR AT THE CROSSROAD
Presentation of the Regional Cooperation Index for 2021
The 29th session of the Igman Initiative on the topic “The Dayton Four at the Crossroad” was held on Friday, December 10 at the Hills Hotel in Sarajevo, with the aim of presenting the Regional Cooperation Index for 2021, compiled by the expert team of the Igman Initiative.
Tanja Fajon, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee stated that normalisation of political atmosphere, ensuring democratic and fair elections, functioning institutions, and media freedom and pluralism were possible with strong political will. The future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union and commitment to the process on both sides is key. She also pointed out that she had dedicated a great part of her work in the European Parliament to the people in the Western Balkans, and I would continue to do so and that only with solidarity and cooperation we could make tomorrow better for the future generations from the region and the Union.
Kathleen Kavalec, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, stated that the Index is very valuable, especially given the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the Index will come in handy to many institutions dealing with relations in the region. The goal of the international community is to improve cooperation at all levels, and in that process assessments conducted by civil society organizations is always helpful.
Milan Antonijevic, the Head of the Expert Team, and Copresident of Igman Initiative for Serbia pointed out that the Index was made by the chapters of the EU Progress Report. As for the academies of sciences, there is no progress in cooperation between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There has been clear progress in cooperation between universities, especially with regard to joint master’s programs. As for the political area, the Government of Montenegro made a series of visits to Sarajevo, Belgrade and Zagreb. There is also a noticeable improvement in the flow of goods, where there is a number of signed bilateral agreements in the area of cross-border cooperation. There are suspicions that the state institutions in all four countries are hiding the progress made in regional cooperation so that they can continue with harsh nationalist rhetoric. It is also noticeable that the authorities in all observed countries are more willing to cooperate at the regional level than at the bilateral level, as the Index indicates. The foreign ministers of all countries show readiness for cooperation and point out that it is evident, however that progress is not publicized enough. Economic cooperation is implemented through a strategic approach, mostly done through cooperation between the chambers of commerce, where the lack of media presence is also quite evident.
Nerzuk Curak, Igman Initiative Expert for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Index was very important, especially at the time of political confrontations that bring regional initiatives into question. The evaluations highlighted by the Index give impression that there are two paralel systems, due to the fact that multilateral forums are much more intensified than bilateral ones, and should be definitely used to combat negative tendencies in the area of regional cooperation.
Aleksandar Popov, President of the Council of the Igman Initiative for Serbia, stated that the Index is a pioneering attempt to objectify the findings from the European report on the WB countries’ progress towards the EU. In this way, the Igman Initiative is putting pressure on state institutions, the international community and the public to improve cooperation in all areas necessary.
Branislav Radulovic, Igman Initiative expert for Montenegro, and Co-president of the Igman Initiative for Montenegro, said that the methodology of the research was very demanding because it examined activities of the four countries in four strict areas. Reporting and measurements / evaluations have been methodologically harmonized. A slowdown in cooperation is evident at one point due to pandemic. As for the cooperation between Serbia and Montenegro, these two countries have not had their ambassadors in Podgorica or Belgrade, respectively, for more than a year. The index also shows that the summits, at the highest level, are held on multilateral basis and are mostly organized by the international community. He also stressed that there is strong initiative for the Index to be presented at the meeting of the Montenegrin Chamber of Commerce in January. Cooperation between media outlets is not mentioned in the report, even though the research in that area could be done in some foreseeable future. Mr. Radulovic emphasized that even after two decades of normalization of relations, there were still unresolved issues such as borders, missing persons, succession, minority rights, etc.
In the discussion held after the presentation of the Index of Regional Cooperation, the opinion was expressed that the project is very useful to objectify the views of EU officials and officials of four countries, but also to act on the public in the direction of normalizing relations and intensifying regional cooperation.
The 29th session of the Igman Initiative was covered by numerous media from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and the press clipping is attached. The message of Tanja Fajon, which she sent to the participants of the session, is also part of this report.
You can read the findings of the experts contained in the Regional Cooperation Index later in this report.
29. SESSION OF THE IGMAN INITIATIVE
Vijesti – https://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/drustvo/579865/igmanska-inicijativa-sjutra-u-sarajevu-predstavlja-indeks-regionalne-saradnje
Danas – https://www.danas.rs/svet/region/bih-epicentar-krize-srbija-i-hrvatska-ne-doprinose-stabilizaciji/