Regional cooperation represents one of the foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Serbia.
The Republic of Serbia attributes particular importance to the development of cooperation with other regional cooperation participants from the region, as the basis for maintaining and increasing stability and promoting overall good neighbourly cooperation. Constant progress and development of regional cooperation, particularly through regional initiatives, also contributes to the integration of this part of Europe into the European Union.
Regional cooperation improves relations between the participants, accelerates European integration processes in the SEE region, and creates the conditions for economic progress and improvement of the living standard of the population.
The Republic of Serbia is a member/participant in the following initiatives and organisations with a regional character:
South-East European Cooperation Process ― SEECP
The South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) was initiated in 1996, with the aim of transforming South-Eastern Europe into a region of stability, security and cooperation, in accordance with European integration trends, through the improvement of mutual dialogue and cooperation at all levels and in all areas of mutual interest. Twelve countries participate in the work of SEECP as full members: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Croatia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey.
Serbia has joined SEECP activities in full capacity at the Summit in Skopje held in October 2000.
SEECP activities are conducted at summits of heads of state or government, MFA meetings, and at the level of political directors of the MFAs of member countries of this initiative. Furthermore, meetings are held of the Troika as the standing coordination body, composed of representatives of the current, past and future chairs-in-office. Meetings at the line ministry level are held as needed, deliberating on issues of interest to the member states.
The Charter on Good-Neighbourly Relations, Stability, Security and Cooperation in South-Eastern Europe, adopted in Bucharest in 2000, represents the key document of SEECP. The Charter was amended at the Summit of the Cooperation Process in Zagreb on 11 May 2007 to define the relationship between SEECP and the Regional Cooperation Council.
A decision was made at the SEECP Summit held in Zagreb on 11 May 2007 to establish functional ties between SEECP and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), whereby SEECP continued its existing role of a forum for political dialogue and guidance for cooperation among participants, while the RCC Secretariat, with its seat in Sarajevo, became the operational support for SEECP.
At the SEECP Summit held on 25 June 2014 in Bucharest, the Republic of Serbia, in accordance with the achieved agreements, accepted the participation of Kosovo* (with the asterisk and well-known footnote text) in SEECP activities, on an equal basis, but without prejudice to the states and in accordance with the Agreement on Regional Representation and Cooperation and the Brussels Agreement. The above solution was mentioned in the Declaration from the SEECP Summit. The Republic of Serbia has thus complied with its obligation of not preventing or blocking Kosovo* in the European integration process. Furthermore, this has not changed the position of the Republic of Serbia regarding the status of Kosovo*, nor did the Republic of Serbia back away from its views, since the UN SC Resolution 1244 and Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice remain as the framework for the designation and presentation of Kosovo*.
The parliamentary dimension of SEECP unfolds through cooperation under the SEECP Parliamentary Dimension Working Group, with participation by representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
Serbia presided over SEECP from June 2011 to June 2012.
The presidency over SEECP for the 2020−2021 period was taken over by the Republic of Turkey. The Republic of Greece will preside over SEECP during 2021−2022.
Regional Cooperation Council ― RCC
The structure of regional cooperation in SEE has been formed with the establishment of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in February 2008 (Joint Declaration on the Establishment of the RCC). The RCC is functionally connected with the SEE Cooperation Process and represents its institutional-logistical support, through the work of the RCC Secretariat and the Secretary General. Throughout all this, the SEE Cooperation Process is focused on the political, while the RCC is focused on sectoral cooperation in the region.
The participants in RCC: 12 participating countries of the SEE Cooperation Process (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, and Montenegro), Kosovo*, the EU Troika (Secretariat of the Council of the EU, EC, country presiding over the EU), and countries and institutions that provide active support for the process of regional cooperation in SEE through donations and support (a total of 46 participants).
The seat of the Secretariat is in Sarajevo. The Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council is Mrs. Majlinda Bregu.
The RCC Secretariat has an EU Liaison Office in Brussels. The operational body is the RCC Board, consisting of national coordinators and institutions funding the RCC Secretariat. The RCC Board convenes three times per year.
The main duties of the RCC are: development of regional cooperation through six priority areas (economic and social development, energy and infrastructure, judiciary and internal affairs, security, development of human potential, parliamentary cooperation) and identification of projects of mutual interest for countries in the region and connecting them to the plans of the EU Commission, particularly in programming multi-beneficiary components of the Instruments for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) as the main framework for RCC action.
The RCC website is available at www.rcc.int.
National Coordinator of the Republic of Serbia for the Regional Cooperation Council:
Pavle Janković, Head of the Division for Regional Initiatives of the EU Department, MFA
Central European Initiative ― CEI
The Central European Initiative (CEI) was created in 1989 through the cooperation of four countries (Republic of Italy, Republic of Austria, the former SFR Yugoslavia, and Hungary). CEI has 17 member countries today: Republic of Albania, Republic of Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, Czech Republic, Republic of Italy, Hungary, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Poland, Romania, Republic of Slovakia, Republic of Slovenia, Republic of Serbia, Ukraine, and Montenegro (the Republic of Austria decided to cease its membership in 2018). Nine countries are EU member states, while the remaining eight are countries from the Western Balkans and the so-called European neighbourhood ― Republic of Belarus, Ukraine and Republic of Moldova.
The seat of the CEI Secretariat is in Trieste. The Secretary General of CEI is Roberto Antonione (Republic of Italy), assuming this function in January 2019. The CEI operates based on a rotating one-year presidency system (from 1 January to 31 December). Montenegro presides over CEI during 2021. Along with the presidency and the Secretariat, an important role in the functioning of the CEI is held by the Troika, operating as a rule as an Expanded Troika ― including the Republic of Italy as a standing member of the Troika due to its special role in the CEI.
The CEI, unlike most other regional initiatives, has its own funds for financing, and/or co-financing cooperation projects. In addition to regular annual contributions by member states, CEI activities are financed from a special CEI Fund with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), funded by the Republic of Italy to the amount of approximately EUR 2 million per year, and other donations by the Republic of Italy and formerly the Republic of Austria, as well as occasional smaller donations by other CEI member states (for the Know―How Exchange Programme).
The CEI holds regular annual summits, meetings of ministers of foreign affairs, expert meetings, etc. An important role in the functioning of CEI is also played by National Coordinator Meetings, held several times per year.
Activities under the parliamentary dimension of CEI unfold through the implementation of meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of CEI, the Parliamentary Committee and general committees (on political and internal affairs, on economic affairs and on cultural affairs).
During the presidency of the Republic of Serbia over the CEI, this regional initiative acquired the status of observer at the UN General Assembly, thus significantly improving its overall prestige and role of an integration and stabilisation factor in the region and beyond. Resolutions on the cooperation of CEI and the UN are adopted bi-annually, in accordance with the usual tempo of biannual meetings of UN representatives and regional organisations holding observer status at the UN GA.
The strategic goal and basis for all CEI activities is regional cooperation for European integration. The fact that CEI consists of two groups of countries ― EU member states and CEI member states that are not part of the EU ― represents a significant contribution to the acceleration of the integration process of CEI member states that are not in the EU but are endeavouring to become members. The development of quality and functional project-oriented cooperation promotes the faster adoption of EU standards and creates preconditions for full EU integration.
One of the main priorities of CEI is cooperation with the European Union, with the aim of strengthening the European integration process for the entire region. CEI activities are mainly aimed at implementing specific cooperation projects in the region. They are being implemented based on a CEI Action Plan for a period of two years.
More information on the CEI is available at: http://www.cei.int/.
Adriatic and Ionian Initiative ― AII
The Adriatic and Ionian Initiative was officially initiated at the Summit on Development and Security in the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, held in Ancona, Republic of Italy, on 19−20 May 2000. The Ancona Declaration, the founding act of the Initiative, was adopted at the above conference. The AII was defined as an initiative for dialogue and cooperation in the Adriatic and Ionian Region, with the aim of creating a space of peace, stability and prosperity. The following were noted as priority areas: cooperation in the field of economy, transport and tourism, technical assistance, sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural, scientific and educational cooperation, and cooperation in combating illegal activities.
The Secretary General of AII is the Italian diplomat Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta.
The seat of the AII Secretariat is in Ancona (Republic of Italy).
The highest body of the AII is the Adriatic and Ionian Council, gathering the MFAs of the AII participating states. The Council convenes at least once per year. Decisions are made by consensus. As of 2016, meetings of the Adriatic and Ionian Council are held in a joint format with the Ministerial Meeting of the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) under the EUSAIR Forum. The decision to join the two formats was made at a meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials of AII held in October 2015 in Zagreb, then confirmed by the EUSAIR Managing Board.
The Committee of Senior Officials of AII is the executive body of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative, holding meetings at least three times per year at the level of national coordinators.
AII activities are implemented through holding thematic roundtables. The purpose of the roundtables is adapted and placed at the disposal of Thematic Steering Groups of EUSAIR (TSG).
The AII participating countries are: Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Republic of Italy, Republic of Slovenia, Republic of Croatia, Montenegro, Republic of Serbia, Republic of North Macedonia and Republic of San Marino.
Serbia presided over the AII during the period 1 June 2019–1 June 2020, when the presidency was taken over by Slovenia. Serbia is currently a member of the presiding “Troika”.
The above Serbian presidency ended with the adoption of the Belgrade Declaration by the ministers of participating countries (the ministerial meeting was held online) ― LINK to the BG Declaration.
EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region ― EUSAIR
The European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) was drafted in 2014 based on the EU Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas from 2021 (COM (2012) 713), considering the positive experience of the EU with macro-regional strategies that preceded the EUSAIR (macro-regional strategies for the Baltic and Danube region, drafted in 2009 and 2010; the macro-regional strategy for the Alpine region was drafted in 2015). Macro-regional EU strategies represent an integrated framework adopted to resolve common challenges, within a defined geographical area, faced by both EU member states and third countries, i.e. participating countries located in the given area. The priorities of macro-regional strategies are intended for projects and activities aiming for regional networking, and involve coordination under sectoral policies at various levels of governance. Regarding USAIR, the priorities are strengthening cooperation in the field of blue economy, transport and energy networks, environmental protection and sustainable tourism, taken as the pillars of this strategy.
The participating countries for EUSAIR are the same as for the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative AII ― except for San Marino, Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Croatia, Greece, Republic of Italy, Republic of Slovenia, Republic of Serbia, Montenegro, and Republic of North Macedonia.
The political level of governance is achieved through regular annual meetings of EUSAIR participating countries at the ministerial level. Since the Forum held in Dubrovnik in 2015, the Ministerial Meeting of EUSAIR and meetings of the Adriatic and Ionian Council are held in a unified format under the EUSAIR Forum.
The coordination level consists of the Governing Board (GB), while the implementation level is represented by Thematic Steering Groups (TSG). The GB consists of national coordinators (with each state represented by two representatives, one from the MFA and another from the sector tasked with coordination of EU funds, and/or, in case of candidate countries, the national IPA coordinator), pillar coordinators, EC representatives (Directorate-generals for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations ― DG NEAR, for regional and urban policy ― DG REGIO, for maritime affairs and fisheries ― DG MARE), representatives of the AII Secretariat, representatives of the Governing Board of the ADRION programme, and representatives of the EUSAIR Facility Point.
Serbia presided over EUSAIR at the same time as over the AII, i.e. from 1 June 2019 to 1 June 2020.
EU Strategy for the Danube Region ― EUSDR
The European Commission adopted the final text of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, along with the accompanying Action Plan, on 8 December 2010. The Council of the EU formally adopted the Strategy on 24 June 2011.
A total of 14 Danube countries took part in the drafting of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, with 9 of them now EU member states (FR Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Republic of Bulgaria, Romania, Republic of Slovenia, Republic of Croatia), while five are not member states (Republic of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine, Republic of Moldova). The Strategy represents a platform for cooperation and acceptance of the EU acquis by candidate countries. The region covered by the Strategy is home to over 115 million people.
The Strategy for the Danube Region has 4 main pillars:
- Connecting the Danube region ― transport, energy, and connections through culture and tourism,
- Protecting the environment of the Danube Region ― water resources, nature and risk prevention,
- Building prosperity in the Danube Region ― science, education, competitiveness, and investment in people,
- Empowering the Danube Region ― strengthening institutional capacities and cooperation and promoting security and combating organised crime.
The Strategy defines 11 priority areas wherein projects will be implemented and that individual countries are coordinating (2 for each area):
1) Improving mobility and intermodality
Road, passenger, and air transport:
Slovenia, Republic of Serbia
2) Support to the development of sustainable energy
Hungary, Czech Republic
3) Promotion of Culture and Tourism
Republic of Bulgaria, Romania
4) Establishing and maintaining water quality
5) Management of environmental risk
6) Preserving biodiversity, air and soil quality
FR Germany (Bavaria), Republic of Croatia
7) Development of a knowledge-based economy (research, education, and information-communication technologies)
Slovakia, Republic of Serbia
8) Support for the improvement of enterprise competitiveness
FR Germany (Baden―Württemberg), Republic of Croatia
9) Investments in human resources and expertise
Austria, Republic of Moldova
10) Raising institutional capacities
11) Increasing security and combating organised crime
FR Germany, Republic of Bulgaria
Since the start of implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, several very important projects have been initiated or further developed, with the most important being main plans for the recovery and maintenance of waterways, creation of environmental protection networks, development of common methodologies for the assessment and management of the risk of natural disasters, and establishment of a network to improve security on the Danube. The Strategy has improved cultural and scientific-research dialogue in the region, along with cooperation with existing international organisations (International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River ― ICPDR, the Carpathian Convention). The Danube Financial Dialogue has also been established, as one of the more successful platforms for creating partnerships and including financial institutions in the promotion of projects in the region.
One important area where the EUSDR has provided a tangible contribution relates to enlargement and neighbourhood policy plans. Thematic cooperation with 5 EU non-member states has been improved, the first European Group for territorial cooperation with EU non-member states has been established (Hungary―Ukraine), and a new coordination programme was established in 2015 enabling Moldova to take part in the Strategy.
The Republic of Serbia gained the role of coordinator for two areas: no. 1b ― Infrastructure: railway, road and air traffic (together with Slovenia), and no. 7 ― Science and knowledge-based economy (together with Slovakia). The Republic of Serbia has a representative in each of the supervisory boards that exist for the priority areas of the Strategy.
The Ninth Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region was organised by the Republic of Croatia and held on 22 October 2020 in a virtual format, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the Annual Forum, the current one-year presidency was taken over by the Republic of Slovakia.
On 24 September 2009, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the decision on forming the Working Group for Cooperation with the EU in the Danube Region. Members of the working group are representatives of ministries and institutions relevant for EU cooperation in the Danube Region, representatives of the EC of Vojvodina and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The duties of National Coordinator are performed by Nevena Karanović, Special Advisor to the Minister for European Integration of the Republic of Serbia.
The Berlin Process was initiated through a meeting at the highest level (prime ministers, ministers of foreign affairs and ministers of the economy of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Austria, France, TSGI in Priština, and representatives of the European Commission), held based on an initiative by the Chancellor of FR Germany A. Merkel in Berlin, on 28 August 2014. The goal of the Summit dedicated to the Western Balkans was achieving a common agreement on strengthening regional cooperation in WB and establishing a four-year framework (2014−2018) to resolve remaining open issues in the region.
The Western Balkans Summit in Berlin (2014) was followed by WB Summits in Vienna (2015), Paris (2016), Trieste (2017), London (2018), Poznan (2019) and Sofia (2020). Greece and Bulgaria were included in the Berlin Process in 2019, thus the process now covers 16 participants: Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, TSGI in Priština, as well as Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, United Kingdom, Poland, Greece and Bulgaria.
A Connectivity Agenda was drafted with the aim of improving ties in the WB region and between the WB and the EU, with particular emphasis on the preparation and funding of specific regional infrastructural investment projects and application of technical standards and reform measures (inter alia, regarding the harmonisation/simplification of border crossing procedures, railway reform, information systems, road safety, road maintenance scheme, etc.). The Multi-Annual Action Plan for a Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) was adopted at the Fourth Summit in Trieste (July 2017), related to the fields of trade, investment, mobility and digital economy. An Action Plan for a Common Regional Market 2021−2024 was adopted and the Green Agenda for WB was supported at the Summit held in Sofia (November 2020).
Key results achieved under the Berlin Process: a Regional Youth Cooperation Office was established, with its seat in Tirana, modelled after the German―French model (Đuro Blanuša from the Republic of Serbia was elected as the first Secretary General of RYCO); an agreement was concluded establishing the Transport Community in SEE, with the seat of the Secretariat in Belgrade, starting operations on 13 September 2019; a Western Balkans Chamber Investment Forum (CIF) was established with its seat in Trieste, representing and advocating the interests of approximately 350,000 companies; during the Second Digital Summit of the Western Balkans held in Belgrade, on 4 April 2019, representatives of six WB economies have signed an Agreement on lowering the prices of roaming services in public mobile communication networks in the WB region; initiation of the Western Balkans Fund ― WBF in September 2017, intended for the development of civil society cooperation.
Regional Youth Cooperation Office ― RYCO
During the Second Summit on WB under the Berlin Process (Vienna, 27 August 2015), the prime ministers of the WB6 have signed a Joint Declaration on the Establishment of a Western Balkans Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO). The agreement establishing RYCO with its seat in Tirana was signed at the next WB Summit in Paris (4 July 2016). The idea to establish RYCO originated from an agreement between the then prime ministers of the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Albania, Aleksandar Vučić and Edi Rama ― respectively. It was modelled after the French―German Youth Cooperation Office, established based on the Elysian Agreement from 1963. The representative of Serbia, Đuro Blanuša, was elected as the first SG during the second meeting of the Managing Board of RYCO (Berlin, 22−23 March 2017). Fatos Mustafa from Priština was elected as deputy SG at the fourth meeting of the RYCO MB (Tirana, 16 May 2017).
The annual budget of RYCO is EUR 2 million, with one million provided by the contracting parties from the region, and the other half by the European Commission and other donors. In accordance with the Statute, the Office is managed by the Managing Board, consisting of two representatives from each contracting party (one representative directly responsible for youth policy and one youth representative).
The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law confirming the Agreement on the establishment of the RYCO on 29 May 2017. The annual contribution of the Republic of Serbia for the RYCO budget is EUR 389,000. The representatives of the Republic of Serbia in the RYCO MB are: Vanja Udovičić, Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia and Marko Kostić, youth representative.
Since the RYCO was established, a lot has been achieved in improving youth cooperation in the region. The goals of RYCO are improving youth cooperation, overcoming inter-ethnic distancing between youth in the region, and participation in intercultural exchange programmes. One of the focus points of RYCO activities is Development of the concept of school exchanges. RYCO is cooperating with the UN, the EU and the Government of Norway in the implementation of several regional projects. One of the projects implemented by RYCO is the Balkans Youth Laboratory (WB6 Lab), the so-called Regional Incubator for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, created for young leaders.
Visegrád Group (V4)
The Visegrád Group (V4) was established on 15 February 1991 as an informal association of Czechoslovakia (as of 1993, the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia), the Republic of Poland and Hungary. The goal was to set the foundations for cooperation under the changing political circumstances in Central European and create the conditions for EU accession. The Visegrád Declaration adopted at that time emphasises that the basis for successful cooperation is the similar historical, cultural and religious heritage, traditional links and mutual influences.
The Visegrád Group is orienting itself actively towards the Western Balkans region through diplomatic activities, the promotion of projects and maintaining continuity in the implementation of programmes started during previous presidencies. Furthermore, regular annual meetings of senior officials from the Western Balkans and Visegrád Group states are being held.
As part of the Czech presidency over V4, an Annual meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs of V4 member states and ministers of foreign affairs from the Western Balkans was held in Prague on 13 November 2015. An agreement was signed on this occasion establishing the Western Balkans Fund.
The Republic of Poland is holding the one-year rotating presidency over V4 from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.
The International Visegrád Fund (IVF) is the only standing structure of the V4. IVF activities by NGOs and private persons where, in addition to donations (the so-called grants), it awards individual scholarships and organises arts workshops, contributing to the exchange of views within the V4 region and between neighbouring countries involved in the V4.
Western Balkans Fund ― WBF
The Western Balkans Fund (WBF) is an initiative aimed at strengthening ties and closer cooperation among the Contracting Parties, joint presentation before third countries, and improving the quality of life of the population of the region and promoting European integration through funding projects by civil society and individuals. The Contracting Parties for WBF are the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, and the so-called Kosovo*.
The goals of the Western Balkans Fund are implemented in particular through activities in the fields of development and promotion of cultural exchange, scientific exchange, research and cooperation in the field of education, exchange between youth, and sustainable development. The agreement on establishing the WBF was signed on 13 November 2015 in Prague, and the WBF became operational in 2017.
The seat of the WBF Secretariat is in Tirana. The Executive Director of the WBF is Gjergj Murra, whose term of office began in September 2017. The WBF operates based on a rotating one-year presidency system (from 1 January to 31 December). During 2021, the presidency of WBF is held by North Macedonia.
Ministers of foreign affairs meet once per year under the WBF, in the format of the Conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the WBF, while national coordinators of the contracting parties meet several times per year in meetings of the Senior Officials Committee.
The main activity and contribution of the WBF is reflected in public calls for projects open once per year for all civil society organisations with projects aimed at three thematic areas: cultural cooperation, educational and scientific exchange, and sustainable development. Projects under the third public call are currently being implemented, while the fourth call will be issued in the spring of 2021. The WBF Secretariat is also organising workshops and trainings for the civil sector, and open calls for individual projects.
More information on the Western Balkans Fund is available at: www.westernbalkansfund.org, and on the Facebook page Western Balkans Fund.
The Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia have jointly initiated the idea of the Brdo―Brioni Process during an informal meeting of the prime ministers of the two countries, B. Pahor and J. Kosor, in January 2010 in Kranjska Gora. The aim of establishing the above regional initiative was strengthening links in the WB region as a means to accelerate the progress of the region on its path towards European integration. The Brdo―Brioni Process was formally started with the meeting of Western Balkans leaders in Brdo near Kranj, on 20 March 2010. As an informal regional initiative, the process was initially named after the place it was held, Brdo Process, only to be soon renamed the Brdo―Brioni Process, since it was also founded by the Republic of Croatia.
The process gathers representatives of Slovenia, Croatia, and the WB6 (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and the TSGI in Priština), with the occasional participation of the highest-level officials of other countries and institutions, as coordinators (France), or special guests (Germany, Italy, Austria, Poland, the EU and USA).
Since the establishment of the Process, in addition to meetings at the highest level (Summits) and meetings of the MFAs, thematic meetings were also held (ministers of justice and ministers of internal affairs), resulting in a number of agreements on mutual cooperation with the aim of accelerating the process of European integration of the region as a whole.
In addition to the initial meeting of WB leaders in Brdo near Kranj in 2010, the following highest-level events were held thus far under the Brdo―Brioni Process: Summit in Dubrovnik (15 July 2014); MFA meeting in Brdo near Kranj (23 April 2015); Summit in Budva (7−8 June 2015); Extraordinary Summit in Zagreb (25 November 2015); Summit in Sarajevo (28−29 May 2016); Summit and meeting of MFAs in Brdo near Kranj (3 June 2017); Summit in Skopje (27 April 2018), and Summit in Tirana (8−9 May 2019). At the latest Summit in Tirana, it was agreed that Slovenia will be the host of the next, extraordinary meeting of the leaders of the BBP. Slovenia intended to organise a BBP Summit in Brdo near Kranj in 2020, dedicated to the ten-year anniversary of the initiative, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic all events have been postponed.
The goals of the Process, reflected through the conclusions adopted in its meetings, are primarily in regards to: providing support to the EU enlargement process, strengthening responsibility for political stability and reconciliation in SEE, improving neighbourly relations, peaceful resolution of remaining open issues, reform processes, development of the infrastructural network in SEE, i.e. the further strengthening of connectivity, particularly in the field of energy, infrastructure and transport, rule of law, improvement of economic competitiveness, and the education system. The individual objectives of the Process are rather similar to the objectives of the Berlin Process and documents adopted in BBP meetings in time started to emphasise the need for the mutual synergy between these two processes. At the same time, the meetings of the Brdo―Brioni Process served to deliberate on a number of topics not directly related to the cooperation framework in SEE, such as the situation in Ukraine, condemnation of terrorism, climate change, Euro―Atlantic integration, facing global security challenges, etc.
Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative ― MARRI
The Stability Pact for SEE adopted the decision establishing the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI) in 2002, to improve the management of migration flows in the region. The founding ministerial MARRI Forum was held in Herceg Novi on 5 April 2004.
Under the current framework, MARRI (Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative) represents a regional initiative for issues of migration, asylum and refugees, with its participants being Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Republic of Serbia and Kosovo* (Kosovo* has been a participant since 10 June 2015, as confirmed in the Declaration of the Regional Forum held in Skopje on 10 June 2015. The same declaration has confirmed the withdrawal of the Republic of Croatia from this regional initiative, since it became an EU member state). The initiative is “owned” by the participants, and its seat, i.e. the MARRI Regional Centre, is in Skopje. The activities of the participants of the initiative and the internal and operational organisation of the Centre are defined by the Statute of the Centre for Migration, Asylum and Refugees. The method of functioning of the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI) was determined by the Guidelines and Rules of Procedure of the above Initiative. (The Statute and Guidelines were updated at the MARRI Committee meeting on 10 June 2015).
At a meeting of the MARRI Committee held in Podgorica on 20 June 2016, the Republic of Serbia has formally taken over the presidency of this regional initiative, and the decision was confirmed at the MARRI Regional Forum meeting on 21 June 2016.
The decision-making bodies of the MARRI initiative are: 1. Regional Forum ― consisting of the ministers of internal affairs of the participants, and senior representatives tasked with issues of asylum, migration, border management, visa regime and return of displaced persons. The Regional Forum provides political support for the work of the Initiative and is used to make decisions of common interest for all participants, and 2. Regional Committee ― comprised of representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs of the participants. The Regional Committee is tasked with determining guidelines for MARRI operations, coordinating activities, making strategic decisions regarding the activities of the initiative, and proposing methods to implement ideas and projects under MARRI. It meets at least twice per year, as a rule before the Regional Forum is held.
The current Director of the MARRI Regional Centre is Sashko Kocev from North Macedonia.
Central European Free Trade Agreement ― CEFTA
The Agreement on amendments and accession to the Central European Free Trade Agreement ― CEFTA 2006 ― was signed in Bucharest on 19 December 2006.
The signatories of the Agreement are: Republic of Albania, Republic of Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Croatia, Montenegro, and UNMIK/Kosovo. After accession to the EU, Romania and the Republic of Bulgaria have left CEFTA in 2007, while Croatia did so in 2013.
The implementation of the Agreement started in 2007, after ratification by the signatories. The Republic of Serbia ratified the Agreement on 25 September 2007.
Albania became the new depository of the CEFTA agreement in 2013 (with the accession of Croatia to the EU and withdrawal from CEFTA).
CEFTA 2006 is a multilateral agreement replacing 32 bilateral agreements on free trade in the region of Southeast Europe (SEE), as the expected sequence of establishing a free trade zone in the region of SEE based on the Memorandum of Understanding on trade liberalization and facilitation (signed on 27 July 2001 in Brussels, based on the SEE Stability Pact). With the coming of the Agreement into force, a level of liberalisation was applied as determined by the bilateral agreements, with the prohibition of introducing additional fiscal and quantitative limitations. The Agreement prescribes the obligation of signatories to establish a free trade zone, full liberalisation in accordance with the provisions of the CEFTA agreement and relevant WTO rules and procedures.
The Republic of Serbia presided over CEFTA in 2017.
After the European Union, the CEFTA region is the second most important foreign trade partner of the Republic of Serbia.
More information at:
International Sava River Basin Commission ― ISRBC
The Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin was signed on 3 December 2002 and came into force on 29 December 2004. The signatory countries are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Croatia, Republic of Slovenia and Republic of Serbia.
The International Sava River Basin Commission ― ISRBC was established to apply the framework agreement and provides for the cooperation of the signatories in the implementation of three main goals:
- Establishing an international navigation regime on the Sava River and its tributaries,
- Establishing sustainable water management, and
- Undertaking measures to prevent or limit hazards, and/or protection from the harmful impact of water, the water regime, and the ecosystem.
The Republic of Serbia became a party to the Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin and Protocol on the Navigation Regime in 2004, through the adoption of the Law confirming the Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin and Protocol on the Navigation Regime (The Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 12/04).
The International Sava River Basin Commission consists of two representatives of each of the signatories of the Framework Agreement, i.e. a member and a deputy member.
The seat of the International Sava River Basin Commission is in Zagreb.
More information at:
Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre ― SELEC
The Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre ― SELEC was created through the transformation of the Regional Centre for Combating Trans-border Crime ― SECI (established under the Southeast Europe Cooperative Initiative), through the signing of the SELEC Convention in Bucharest on 9 December 2009 by representatives of 13 member states.
The signatory states of the SELEC Convention are: Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, Republic of Greece, Hungary, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Republic of Slovenia, Republic of Serbia, and Republic of Turkey.
The Convention came into force on 7 October 2011, with the depository of the Convention being Romania.
The seat of the SELEC Centre is in Bucharest, Romania.
The member states of SELEC are: Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Greece, Hungary, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Republic of Serbia, and Republic of Turkey.
The observer countries of SELEC are: Republic of Austria, Kingdom of Belgium, Czech Republic, Republic of France, Georgia, Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, Japan, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Kingdom of Spain, Republic of Slovakia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The main duties of SELEC are defined by the SELEC Convention, based on the cooperation of member states in the prevention and combating of criminal activities, with an element of trans-border connection, including organised crime, terrorism, smuggling of people and goods, through the joint operational work of customs and police forces of the member states, and through the exchange of information and documents between liaison officers, delegated to the SELEC centre by the member states, and focal points at the national level.
More information at: