The overall goal of this project is to devise a framework for a new, flexible strategy for an accelerated European integration of the Western Balkans based on research, analysis and interaction among leading think tank and civil society activists and policy-makers from Bulgaria and the countries of the region. Bulgaria’s accession experience should play a key a role in devising such a strategy – some aspects of Bulgaria’s integration proved not so smooth, while others proved effective, and the new framework should dwell on that.
February 7, 2012 IRIS′s annual study on democracy and EU integration processes in the Western Balkans in 2010/11 is available
IRIS has completed its second annual study on developments in the Western Balkans in the areas of democracy and European integration. The study, The Western Balkans in 2010/11: Departures in Democratisation and European Integration in Europe′s Southeast,comprises analysis of general trends and individual country investigations of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia and focuses on the period roughly from October 2010 to January 2012.
March 19, 2012 IRIS presents in Belgrade its latest annual study on democracy and EU integration in the Western Balkans
IRIS presented on Friday, 16 March, in Belgrade its latest annual study, The Western Balkans in 2010/11: Departures in Democratisation and European Integration in Europe’s Southeast (the study is available here). The event, hosted by the Balkan Trust for Democracy (a programme of the German Marshall Fund of the United States), included a presentation of the study’s main findings by IRIS’s Dr. Ognyan Minchev, Stefan Ralchev and Goran Stojkovski and a lively discussion involving representatives of the local policy community, government, EU ambassadors and journalists. A special guest from Washington DC was the GMF Senior Director for Foreign Policy and Civil Society S. Enders Wimbush.
The even opened with welcoming words by BTD’s Director Gordana Delic and introductory words on the study by IRIS’s Executive Director Dr. Ognyan Minchev. Stefan Ralchev and Goran Stojkovski then laid out the general findings for each of the countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Two discussants representing the Belgrade think tank community, Srdjan Djurovic of the Centre for Applied European Studies and Irena Cerovic of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, had the opportunity to comment on the study results. Then a Q&A session followed, with members of the audience commenting and posing questions to the presenters.
The event was attended by prominent representatives of Serbia’s policy community, academics, government officials and EU diplomats. The common conclusion was that the study constitutes a very compact and useful tool for gaining insight on democratic and EU integration developments in the Western Balkans over the past year or so. The discussion naturally was in the context of the transformative financial and political processes in the EU itself and the repercussions they have on the region. Some participants voiced an opinion that, despite the departures in democratisation and EU integration Southeast European societies are experiencing, we should be wary abandoning the concept of the Western Balkans at this point. Political processes in Serbia, in view of the upcoming general elections, also provoked an active debate. Some participants recommended that issues of security and the civil society’s role be further researched in future studies on the region.
The project was supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Citizens′ Network for Peace, Inter-communal Reconciliation & Human Security (CN4HS) is cross-border project supported by the European Commission and launched in November 2012 by six non-governmental organisations and research institutes from the Balkans and Turkey: the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Turkey; the Institute for Regional and International Studies – Bulgaria; SeCons – Serbia; the Youth Resource Centre Tuzla – Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Association for Democratic Prosperity Zid – Montenegro; and the Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication – Kosovo.
The project aimed to support the already gained momentum in the reform processes in the Balkans and affirm their irreversibility via analysis, publication, advocacy and networking aiming at accelerated European integration in times when the economic crisis and the return to power of nationalist/populist factors in the region jeopardise the progress achieved and cause disaffection among the populace.
The project is part of the European Commission’s support to regional thematic networks within the framework of the Civil Society Facility Partnership Programmes for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The project aimed to support new, effective public policy strategies for regional development in the Balkan societies and a better understanding of and ways to overcome the failures of post-communist Balkan states to provide quality public services to their citizens in their embrace of liberal democracy and the free market since the 1990s and in light of the ongoing economic and Eurozone crises via research, analysis, policy products and advocacy.
The goal of the project was to help devise and implement common strategies for minimising the effects of the global economic crisis on the political, institutional and social development of the Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
In April 2006 IRIS started the implementation of a 12-month project entitled The Mid-Term Policy Agenda of the Balkans. The objective of the project is to develop and advocate regional policy solutions with EU perspective to remedy the Balkans’ problems.
There are two important issues, dominating the agenda of the Balkans in 2007. The first one is the blockade of the Kosovo status promotion, with its local, regional and international implications. The second one is the silent postponing of EU accession process for the Western Balkans, which is widely considered as a condition sine qua non to cope with regional maladies.
The major goal of the proposed project was to strengthen the process of democratic reconstruction of local decentralized government through establishing and supporting working models for public and private partnerships in Macedonia and BiH.
IRIS advocacy program envisages facilitating the process of forming active groups at local governmental level that will involve the representatives of business communities, civic activists and decision makers in community development planning.
Between July 2005 and December 2005 IRIS International Security and Democratization Program implemented the project on The Process of Decentralization in Macedonia: Prospects for Ethnic Conflict Mitigation, Enhanced Representation, Institutional Efficiency and Accountability, supported by the Freedom House – Regional Networking Project.
On December 1, 2004 IRIS International Security and Democratization Program started the implementation of the one-year project entitled Transborder Exchange of Reform Practices: Decentralization and Citizens’ Inclusion. The program is aimed at elaborating a strategy for applying an integrated system of cross-border transfer of Bulgarian experience and good practices to Macedonia in overcoming deficiencies of the decentralization process and sustaining the citizens’ support for necessary reforms within the context of the European integration.
This six-month pilot project was aimed at increasing the capacity of civil society organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia to effectively represent civic interests through transferring advocacy know how from Bulgaria.
The Partners in Peacebuilding in the Balkans Project is a joint initiative of the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) in Sofia, Bulgaria, the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at the University of Maryland, and the University of Sofia, Bulgaria.
This one year project developed by the Institute for Regional and International Studies – Sofia, united the efforts of local government officials in transborder areas of Bulgaria and Serbia, as well as local NGO activists from the respective communities.
IRIS International Security and Democratization Program implemented the project entitled The Balkans and The New Global Agenda started on May 1, 2002. Project aimed primarily at contributing to a systemic reassessment of the policy agenda of Balkan security in the new international context and defining the basic priorities of cooperation between the Balkan policy community and the policy institutions of the transatlantic community.
The project addressed the following issues: National NATO Accession Strategies and Armed Forces Reforms, Security Priorities of Prospective Members, and NATO Transformation and Strategic Environment.
IRIS International Security and Democratization Program staff initiated the implementation of Civic Strategy for Promoting Bilateral Relations between Bulgaria and Serbia Project on October 1, 2001. The project objective is to establish and promote a civic strategy for development of the relations between Bulgaria and Serbia identifying major interests, social groups, communities and institutions that have potential for intensifying bilateral relations.
The project addressed a number of pressing issues arising from the institutional collapse and series of security crises in this part of the Balkans. The main goal of the project was to involve outstanding think tanks from Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia in active networking for promotion of common measures to sustain security within this strategic tier.
The International Fact Finding Mission has been an extension of the Project on Security Challenges and Development of the Southern Balkans, implemented by IRIS in cooperation with the Euro-Balkan Institute, Skopje and the Institute for Contemporary Studies, Tirana, also supported by the Regional Networking Project, sponsored by Freedom House, with funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The European Integration and Regional Stability Program of the Open Society Foundation-Sofia, provides support to follow-up activities of the International Fact-finding Mission.
The project gave IRIS a new perspective and approach for both addressing current and emerging policy challenges and offering practical policy recommendations. The project included the initiation of unique monthly analyses on regional issues in the area of transatlantic cooperation, integration strategies, and foreign policy making in regard to regional security and cooperation.
This project united the efforts of Bulgarian and Macedonian NGOs in the hopes of overcoming the political difficulties in bilateral relations of the two states. The project set up a free forum of NGOs from the two countries searching and formulating points of common interest for Bulgaria and Macedonia, and on this basis, developed and institutionalized legitimate mechanisms of advocacy for achieving a positive public policy impact.
The aim of the project was, through direct observation and analysis of the situation in FR Yugoslavia, to assess the impact of the Yugoslav crisis on Bulgarian foreign policy priorities and the global community’s perception of the Balkans.
This project analyzed the potential factors working as catalysts or barriers to the successful integration of Bulgaria into the South East European Cooperative Initiative (SECI).
The project′s main goal was to lay down the foundations of a public policy strategy for efficient long term South Balkan integration and regional cooperation initiatives.
The aim of the project was to establish and develop an international network of experts, corporate executives and policy makers who could promote regional cooperation in the Southern Balkans in the fields of commerce, infrastructure, telecommunications and energy.