We are pleased to welcome you to live stream of the #WBTFuture! part of the “EU & Civil Society: Quo Vadis?” - A joint inquiry into possibilities for the future in the Western Balkans and Turkey (WBT), a regional event that gathers Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) representatives, activists, social enterprises, academics and government representatives from the Western Balkans, Turkey, the European Union (EU) and beyond to discuss civil society matters and accompanying democratisation processes of the WBT.
In the past decade, EU support to civil society has been substantial in driving reforms in the WBT region and begetting positive changes, notably, in the enabling environment, effective advocacy campaigns for rights and greater engagement with EU values and norms. The EU instruments for support to civil society – such as the Civil Society Facility (CSF) - have so far been effective in protecting civic space and expanding civil society influence as an intermediary between the state and citizens to have a greater role to play in reforms, thus contributing to the region's democratisation processes.
Nonetheless, due to numerous global trends as well as structural factors and actors influencing the WBT's development, the region has become plagued by challenges and threats causing regression of achievements to date. The countries are still characterized as places where security and peace are currently at jeopardy; there is a perception among the citizens that the countries are headed by political leaders who would give up the EU integration process in order to protect their powers; and whose societies are overwhelmed with demographic fear, hopelessness, and pessimism. According to all relevant public polls majority of citizens see the EU as the beacon of hope and the EU integration as a mechanism of change and civil society should be seen as a support tool for this process.
For the purpose of building on the positive aspects of the emerging democratisation processes and of the adaptation of future strategies to the overall context, thus giving further support to development endeavours, the EU funded project, Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations (TACSO) believes that it is crucial moment to showcase CSOs' achievements, but, event more importantly, to take a critical stance on the role of CSOs in the development of democracy in the WBT.
Such an inquiry will open new perspectives on how to make democratisation processes and consequent CSOs' actions more motivating, meaningful and discursive in the WBT countries and across the region as well.