9th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum - Programme

First day 

The times are given in local time i.e. Brussels time 8.30 am

8.30 a.m. Registration of participants and connection testing

9.30 - 11.15 a.m. Inaugural session: The state of democracy in South East Europe: civil society "health test" on the road to EU enlargement

Moderator: Apostolos Mangiriadis, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT)

  • Maira Myrogianni, Secretary General for International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hellenic Republic
  • Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography (video message)
  • Oliver Röpke, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
  • Anna Vezyroglou, Deputy Head of Unit NEAR D1, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, European Commission (online)
  • Biljana Spasovska, Executive Director, Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN)
  • Krisela Hackaj, Executive Director, Cooperation & Development Institute (CDI)

Keynote speaker:

  • Ioannis Armakolas, Head of the South-East Europe Programme at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)


11.15 - 11.45 a.m. Coffee break and press conference (tbc)

11.45 a.m. - 1 p.m. Second session: 2023 European Year of Skills – Part 1

Lifelong skills development in South-East Europe, through initial and Continuing Vocational Education and Training (IVET and CVET)

Chair: Prof. Iakovos D. Michailidis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

  • Hugues Moussy, Head of the Systems Performance and Assessment Unit of the European Training Foundation (ETF)
  • Mara Brugia, Deputy Director of European Centre for the development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)
  • Tatjana Babrauskienė, EESC member
  • Saša Aćić, Director of Union od Employers' Associations of Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Čedanka Andrić, President, Trade Union „Nezavisnost“, Serbia
  • Trajce Velkovski, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje / Head of the Centre of Vocational Excellence in Green Innovation, North Macedonia
  • Tina Šarić, Director of Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe – ERI SEE


1 - 2.30 p.m. Lunch hosted by the EESC

2.30 - 4.00 p.m. Second session continued: 2023 European Year of Skills – Part 2A

Education, Skills and the Youth Guarantee in the Western Balkans

Chair: Neža Repanšek, member of the EESC

  • Dafina Peci, Executive Director, National Youth Congress of Albania
  • Dren Puka, Research, Advocacy and Capacity Building Manager of the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF), Kosovo*
  • Jelena Fuštić, Management Board of the Youth Network of Montenegro
  • Marija Stojadinović, Director of the Kragujevac Business Development Center, Serbia
  • Duško Cvjetinović, Manager of project "Youth Retention Program in BiH – General Mobilisation", Citizens Association "Nešto Više / Something More"
  • Margareta Nikolovska, Senior Human Capital Development Expert, Governance and Quality Assurance, European Training Foundation (ETF)


4.00 - 4.15 p.m. Coffee break

4.15 - 5.30 p.m. Second session continued: 2023 European Year of Skills – Part 2B: Continuing training, up-skilling and re-skilling in the Western Balkans

Chair: Lidia Salvatore, Cedefop

  • Siria Taurelli, Senior Human Capital Development Expert, Coordinator of Governance and Quality Assurance, European Training Foundation (ETF)
  • Brikena Xhomaqi, co-chair of the EESC's Liaison Group with European CSOs and networks, Lifelong Learning Platform - European Civil Society for Education
  • Srđa Keković, Secretary General, Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro
  • Boško Savković, Secretary General, Association of Employers of Serbia, and co-chair of the EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC)


5.30 p.m. Cocktail reception offered by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)

Second day

The times are given in local time i.e. CET -1h

9.30–11.30 a.m.  Third session: Civil society's contribution to the implementation of the Green Agenda and sustainable development of the South-East Europe

Panel 1

Chair: Dragica Martinović, member of the EESC

  • Matej Zakonjšek, Director, Transport Community Secretariat
  • Adam Cwetsch, Head of European Green Deal Unit, Energy Community Secretariat
  • Viktor Berishaj, Southeast Europe Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator, CAN Europe
  • Marika Djolai, Department of Peace Studies and International Development, University of Bradford, Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) member
  • Nataša Kalauz, Executive Director of World Wide Fund (WWF) Adria (online)

        Panel 2

        Chair: Ionut Sibian, member of the EESC

  • Pavle D. Radovanović, Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro and co-chair of the EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC)
  • Atdhe Hykolli, Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo*, trade unions' representative in the Economic and Social Council (ESC)
  • Petrica Dulgheru, Executive Director of the Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative
  • Dritan Nelaj, Program Manager on Just Green Transition at OSF Western Balkans


11.30 - 12.00 a.m. Coffee break

12.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. Discussion and adoption of the Forum conclusions

  • Chair: Andrej Zorko, President of the EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee


*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.