Brussels — The final meeting of the three Working Tables of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe – Democracy, Economy and Security - took place on 3-4 December 2007 in Tirana and was hosted by the Albanian government. The Prime Minister Mr Sali Berisha made a keynote speech during the event. Over 150 participants representing over 60 countries and organisations, including representatives of SEE governments, EU Member States, Canada, Switzerland, the US, the European Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament, NATO, OSCE, debated the future of SEE at this crucial moment of the transformation process of the Stability Pact into the Regional Co-operation Council (RCC).
Each meeting gave special attention to past achievements, lessons learnt and remaining challenges for the RCC with regards to the Stability Pact's various initiatives and task forces. Each Working Table included panel discussions on specific themes relevant to their area of operations.
Working Table I – Democracy and Human Rights
The discussions in Working Table I focused on the 8 years of the Stability Pact’s involvement in the field of democratisation and human rights in South Eastern Europe – from the engagement in refugee issues, including protection and return of refugees and displaced persons in the early days of the Stability Pact to the present day activities in the field of education, research, parliamentary co-operation etc.
In the field of education and research, the participants of the Working Table I meeting endorsed the launching of the new task force Fostering and Building Human Capital. The new Task Force expanded the activities of the already existing Task Force Education and Youth to the field of research. On the basis of the Proposal for the Establishment of the Task Force Fostering and Building Human Capital, endorsed at this meeting, the new Task Force, chaired by Romania and co-chaired by Austria, will co-ordinate the activities that will lead to the elaboration of a profile and of a structure of the new Task Force.
A Memorandum of Understanding on interparliamentary co-operation in South Eastern Europe was initialled by the Parliamentary National Co-ordinators in the presence of the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr Georgi Pirinski. The Bulgarian Parliament is hosting the Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Co-operation in South Eastern Europe, following the decision of the 6th SEECP Speakers of Parliament meeting. Furthermore, Working Table I endorsed the Memorandum, as well as the 2008 Work Programme of the Sofia-based Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Co-operation.
Working Table II – Economic Reconstruction, Development and Co-operation
The Working Table II meeting looked at different aspects of its diverse economic portfolio particularly the relationship between economic development and social policies and regional infrastructure including energy. Substantial progress was made in all of these areas as evidenced both in physical developments – the new airport in Tirana being one of the most recent examples – and in policy reforms, such as the Energy Community Treaty, CEFTA 2006, employment policy reforms and social dialogue. The participants commented on the ever-growing appreciation of the benefits – political, economic and social – of regional co-operation among both the countries of South Eastern Europe and the international community since the launch of the Pact.
However, there are still enormous infrastructure needs in the region in transport, energy, health and education. Public private partnerships (PPP) could be helpful for some projects, but infrastructure experts cautioned that devising PPP contracts demanded considerable skill and knowledge on the part of the public sector if they are to be successful. There is still a strong need for technical assistance and capacity building across all the regional initiatives. WT II has been instrumental in putting a regional economic strategy in place – the region must now ensure implementation with the support of the international community.
Working Table III – Security Issues
The Working Table III meeting reviewed progress achieved, lessons learnt and addressed remaining challenges in the area of Justice and Home Affairs and Defence and Security issues. The first panel was the occasion for participants to discuss with the speakers from Europol, OSCE, Interpol, ODIHR, SECI Center and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, regional co-operation in fighting corruption and organised crime, police co-operation and border and migration management. The second panel, with panellists from NATO, Marshall Center, SEDM, SEEGROUP, US-Adriatic Charter and DPPI, addressed regional co-operation in the areas of disaster prevention and preparedness and security and defence co-operation. In both panels, the efforts and successes of the Working Table III initiatives were highlighted, while difficulties and shortcomings were also recognized. The lessons drawn from successes and impediments will provide a basis for the future work of the RCC.
Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact Erhard Busek as well as incoming Secretary General of the RCC Hido Biscevic presented the next steps on "The Road Ahead -Reinforcing the Regional Co-operation Agenda".
Special Co-ordinator Busek stated that the transformation of the Stability Pact into a fully regionally owned and led framework, the Regional Co-operation Council, is entering its final phase. The final handover will take place next February and will finally put the region in the driving seat of regional co-operation. “The road ahead in regional co-operation is clearly marked and a secure, prosperous and democratic region is the final destination”, he stated. Secretary General Biscevic said in his statement: “Times are delicate and decisive. We are entering a period where future regional security and stability architecture will be shaped once again”. Both thanked the Government of Albania for the excellent hospitality, as well as the Bulgarian Chairmanship in office of SEECP for providing support for the transition process from the Stability Pact to the Regional Co-operation Council.
For further information, please contact Stability Pact's Spokesperson
Mr Georgi Gotev at the SP Secretariat in Brussels
(Tel: +32 2 401 87 25 or email@example.com).