08:30 Registration of participants
09:00 Inaugural session – assessment and perspectives of the European integration of the Western Balkans

Moderator: Ms Dragica Martinović Džamonja, President of the EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee

  • Ms Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime minister for Judicial reform and Minister of Foreign affairs
  • Ms Dilyana Slavova, President of the EESC's External Relations Section (REX)
  • Mr Colin Wolfe, Head of Unit for Western Balkans Regional Co-operation and Programmes, European Commission, DG NEAR
  • Mr Lalko Dulevski, President of the Economic and Social Council of the Republic of Bulgaria
  • Mr Srđa Keković, Secretary General of Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro


10:30 Coffee break and press conference
11:00 Economic and social cohesion of the Western Balkans

Chair:  Ms Biljana Spasovska, Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN)

Key speech by Mr Biser Petkov, Bulgarian Minister of Labor and Social Policy (tbc)

Economic integration

  • Mr Peter Sanfey, Deputy Director, Country Economics and Policy, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
  • Ms Valentina Disoska, Association of business women in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Social cohesion

  • Mr William Bartlett, Coordinator of the LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in South East Europe
  • Ms Mirna Jusić, ANALITIKA Center for Social Research, Bosnia and Herzegovina


  • Ms Krisela Hackaj, Cooperation & Development Institute, Albania
  • Mr Pierre Jean Coulon, EESC member

Intervention by a representative of trade unions

Intervention by a representative of employers


13:00 Lunch
14:30 Rights and empowerment of vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans

Chair: Ákos Topolánszky, EESC member

PART I - Gender equality and Women's Empowerment

  • Ms Jolanta Reingarde, Senior Researcher/Analyst, European Institute for Gender Equality
  • Ms Iliriana Banjska, Kosovo Women's Network
  • Ms Madi Sharma, EESC member
16:00 Coffee break

16:30 PART II - Minority groups

  • Mr Goran Miletić, Director for Europe of Civil Rights Defenders and Belgrade Pride
  • Ms Ivanka Jovanović, Serbian National Organisation of Persons with Disability
  • Ms Zora Popova, Associate Lecturer, Minority Rights, University of Flensburg, Germany
  • Mr Nadir Rexhepi, Roma Education Fund


18:00 – 18:30

Summary of main messages and closing remarks by Ms Dragica Martinović Džamonja, President of the EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee

Interpretation: FR, EN, BG, MK, BS-HR-SR and SQ (Albanian) into FR, EN, BG, MK, BS-HR-SR and SQ (Albanian)


Programme of the High Level Conference on Economic and social cohesion in the Western Balkans