Strengthening Partnerships in South Eastern Europe:
A perspective from the Office of the Regional Envoy of the Stability
Pact for South Eastern Europe High-Level Conference on Strengthening
Cooperation in South East Europe, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 4 –
5 April 2002
By Ramona Calin
Special Advisor to the Regional Envoy for the Stability Pact for South-Eastern
The European twentieth century started in Sarajevo and ended in Sarajevo.
When the 20th century came into being, it found a rather frightening
South Eastern Europe hosting neighboring nations that hardly knew one
another, which could barely conceal their Brownian evolution. At the
other end of the same century, South Eastern Europe was still struggling
to take its destiny in its own hands, to define its future while avoiding
the mistakes of the past. Today’s success track record is still
scarce. I do believe that the mainstay of a solid regional architecture
should be confidence based on the values of dialogue, co-operation and
good-neighbourliness. It is high time our region proves itself to be
not only an area of ethnic and religious strife, the "powder keg
of Europe", as it used to be for too long, but also one of smooth
accommodation of interests.
Immediately after the Second World War, a few Western European countries
were nothing but ruins. The stains of that ravishing war were removed
in just a few years, by common joint efforts of the international community.
The main reason for this effort was that democratic values had to be
safeguarded. In 1989, most countries from South Eastern Europe chose
the same way towards democracy.
Seven maps of South- Eastern Europe are juxtaposed. Internationally,
our region bears at least seven labels: South Eastern-Europe (SEE),
The Balkans, CE -Central Europe, CEEC -Central Eastern European Countries,
PAC – The Pre-Accession Countries, the Black Sea Countries and
lately, the Carpathian/ Danubian zone. Whatever its accepted label,
our identity has often been questioned. Nonetheless, our nations are
deeply rooted in a common Europe. In response to persisting instability
in the region, the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe was launched
in 1999 with the goal of fostering regional co-operation, security,
and democracy throughout the area. So far, approximately 250 projects
have been launched under the auspices of the Pact.
There is virtual unanimity in South Eastern European countries that
the way forward is integration in Europe. It is in this spirit that
the EU, which has assumed a leading role in the Stability Pact, undertakes
to draw South Eastern Europe "closer to the perspective of full
integration...into its structures", including eventual full membership.
Countries wishing to be admitted must, however, first meet the minimum
conditions concerning democratic, economic and institutional reforms.
This process will require better intra-regional relations and enhanced
co-operation in the field of democratisation as well as in the economic
and security areas. It will also require fostering a new European Perspective
for the South Eastern European countries.
Since the Stability Pact was founded, the Heads of States and governments
of the South Eastern European countries have met regularly for consultations.
At the SEECP Bucharest Summit in February 2000, they have adopted a
"Charter on Good Neighborliness, Stability, Security and Co-operation
in South East Europe".
Co-operative relations have offered more substance to regular bilateral
relations. Most Stability Pact projects and activities were proposed
and are carried out by two or more countries of the region.
It is the Regional Envoy’s conviction that the Stability Pact’s
culture of cooperation within a framework of diverse projects represents
the initiative best suited to offer countries in the region the opportunity
to prepare for Euro-Atlantic integration.
This is the rationale behind the Stability Pact’s continuous
efforts directed towards enhancing relations between the 11 beneficiary
states, candidates for NATO and EU integration, as well as towards strengthening
their participation in structures such as NATO’s: the Partnership
for Peace and EU’s Stabilisation and Association Process.
The Regional Envoy’s Office was set up as a new, unprecedented
institution, with the main view in mind to foster regional ownership.
The Office of Regional Envoy operates according to the following objectives:
- to represent the Special Co-ordinator and his
office of the Stability Pact in Brussels in relation with the national
executive bodies and the national co-ordinators;
- to dispatch decisions adopted thereby to the beneficiary countries;
- to coordinate the work of the Stability Pact in 11 beneficiary states:
Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, the FYR of Macedonia,
Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, the FR of Yugoslavia, Republic of Moldavia;
- to identify common projects in the region and to find common solutions;
- to represent the countries of the region in their relation with the
- to mediate the dialogue between the beneficiary states and the international
financial institutions (IMF, World Bank etc);
- to identify the adequate resources required by projects of regional
- to facilitate contacts between business people in the region;
- to provide concrete analyses regarding political, social and economic
progress in the region to the European Commission;
- to assess the political benefits of the projects by evaluating their
significance in relation with the EU and NATO, as well as their technical
stages of implementation;
Our three-faced philosophy "CCC"
We co-ordinate the activities of our office on the basis of a three-faced
philosophy: complementarity, co-ordination and communication - "CCC":
- Co-ordination: We co-ordinate our activities
with the beneficiary countries through their national co-ordinators.
Together with the Office of the Special Co-ordinator, we co-ordinate
the project inventory of every beneficiary country.
- Complementarity: From a EU integration perspective, we foster complementarity
among the countries of the region and their neighbors (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Yugoslavia
and Turkey, Moldavia) through a series of regional initiatives: Black
Sea Economic Co-operation (BSEC), Central European Initiative (CEI),
South East European Co-operative Initiative (SECI) and South East Europe
Co-operation Process (SEECP)
- Communication: We ensure the public image of SPSEE (Regional
Envoy's Office included) in Romania and in the countries of the region.
Last year 3 billion Euro have been pledged to South-Eastern Europe
at the Bucharest regional conference. An impressive package of regional
infrastructure projects amounting to 2.5 bn Euro were pledged in the
scopes of improving the infrastructure network, notably in the areas
of transport, energy and water. Another important element was the support
for private sector development amounting to 60 million Euro in the fields
of trade financing, SME support and banking. In addition, Bosnia, Croatia,
and the FRY have committed 550 mn Euro for refugee issues, assisted
by the donor community with another 500 mn Euro. These figures give
clear evidence of the international community's determination to support
the region. And they clearly indicate that support is also forthcoming
in times when new priorities challenge world politics.
Significant progress has been achieved under working Table 1 and Mr.
Rhondos is here to detail upon the activities carried under his coordination.
In our Regional Envoy’s office, we have focused mainly in issues
pertaining to education, NGOS liaison and communication. In the case
of education, we are personally involved in the promotion of “two-country
perspective history books”. Together with the Council of Europe
we will host in Timisoara, in June of the current year, an initial workshop
to address this perspective, in the hope that neighbouring countries
will thus understand each other better and will approach their future
with a clearer understanding of their past. In most countries of South
Eastern Europe, history has often been taught through the mirror glass
of the communist legacy. Basically, often times history has been wiped
out from the collective consciousness. A direct exponent of this period,
I remember very well the discrepancies between the history lessons I
was taught by my family and the history books, in their “pedagogic
shape” at school. This dual exercise resulted in “a refrigerator
of traditions and history” used solely for one’s own’
identity, and not as an authentic learning exercise. In many ways, this
is changing. But it stays quite the same when it comes to express trans-border
issues, and here I could speak of the Romanian/Hungarian history books.
There is a serious need for both countries to have a clear understanding
of their past, to the highest extent possible.
With the same approach in mind, we look at distance learning and wish
to promote it in the region, to exploit its trans-border complementarities.
We will host, during the month of May, in our office, the first regional
distance learning workshop, along with the World Bank and the British
Council. Stability Pact countries will meet with major donors to see
how they could best benefit of resources in matters pertaining to distance
Also, at our end we have started working at a more coherent communication
strategy for the Stability Pact countries. We came to understand that
most media groups in the region suffer from a lack of specialized journalists.
While we can not address all the grievances of the media, we deem very
important to attract support for sustainable training programmes in
the areas of European Integration/European Union matters, as well as
issues pertaining to conflict journalism. We therefore try to have unified
training programmes, in partnerships with national NGOs. This will strengthen
the public understanding of European affairs, before these countries
will ultimately join the Union. In the case of conflict journalism,
we hope, through comprehensive training programmes, to prevent the escalation
of crisis. It turns out that in cases such as Macedonia, the media played
a crucial role in the development of the Macedonian conflict.
We trust that our regional communication strategy could play an important role in the spreading of public awareness in key areas such as EU affairs (mostly needed for EU candidate countries) and conflict.
Under the Pact’s Working Table II for economic reconstruction
and development, 34 infrastructure projects (representing 1,2 billion
Euros) have commenced mostly in the fields of road and street reconstruction.
A Business Advisory Council brings together major global infrastructure
companies with regional private and public operators. The Regional Envoy’s
office is promoting a strong cooperation between the public and the
private sector, with focus on the social cohesion. “Public-private
partnerships within the social cohesion framework” are aiming
to link the public and the private sector in matters of labour policy,
comprehensive human resources policies, enhancing of the employees’
dialogue through better syndicate cooperation. Major privatization is
underway in many of the countries of the Pact and this is only going
to continue in the future. Comprehensive policies are highly expected
to address the needs of the laid off workers. The Office of the Regional
Envoy is assisting to design a sustainable road map linking the private
sector and the reform of the social sector.
The Stability Pact’s vision is that today, no organisation can
solve current problems single-handedly. Thus, in the field of investment,
we are working together with the OECD on the implementation of the Investment
Compact, the goal of which is to dismantle investment barriers and to
promote private investment. The Compact represents: first, a commitment
by SEE countries to undertake policy reforms to improve the investment
environment; second, a commitment by donor countries to support this
process through concrete projects; and thirdly, a process to monitor
reform, identify needs and facilitate implementation and policy dialogue.
The Compact has already issued “Country Fact Sheets”--which
give a snapshot on the investment environment and major policy issues--and
the first draft edition of the “Monitoring Instruments”
which provide, in table format, a comprehensive and specific list of
policy measures with target dates, responsible agencies, and current
Each country’s work is carried through a Country Economic Team,
which includes participants from government, the private sector, and
the international community.
Progress has also been made on trade liberalisation with the signing
of a Memorandum of Understanding committing the states of the region
to liberalise 90% of their mutual trade in value by the end of 2006.
Under Working Table III for security we operate three regional task
forces: on organised crime, corruption, and illegal trafficking. A Regional
Arms Control Verification and Implementation Assistance Center (RACVIAC)
has been established in Zagreb and in partnership with NATO a retraining
program instituted in Bulgaria and Romania prepares military officers
for a return to civilian life.
The Pact has also launched an Asylum and Migration Initiative and is
currently formulating a regional strategy to fight international terrorism.
During last year’s October’s regional conference, the Bucharest
SECI (South Europe Initiative) Centre was proposed to become the regional
focal point to address international terrorism. There is already a significant
amount of co-operation between the SECI Centre and the Pact, but a higher
area of common interest will be developed in light of the terrorist
attacks on the United States.
After the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, Europe
United embarked in fighting international terrorism. Eradicating poverty,
alleviating economic and social differences among nations: East and
West via regional co-operation, are most necessary tools of conducting
an effective struggle against international terror. In this light, the
Stability Pact is today even more a needed platform than before September
When the Pact was created, many viewed it as an alternative Marshall Plan, a machinery to ameliorate the regions’ hardships. The Marshall Plan was also a Pact of solidarity. The Stability Pact is still a new born. Furthermore, a touch of optimism for a better future is high on the SP countries’ agenda. We cannot envisage a secure and prosperous Europe with unstable countries on the periphery of the European Union but unfortunately, to quote the Regional Envoy, Mr. Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu “what we have at this very moment is a Europe looking like a three-legged round table: one leg is damaged, and if it breaks down, the entire table will crash, in a terrible taste of champagne spilled over fresh blood.” And here comes the difficult question: why is it seemingly impossible now to reconstruct quickly a part of the continent, since the same task was successfully accomplished fifty years ago?
The Stability Pact acts to coordinate international assistance dedicated
to South-Eastern Europe, designed to allow it to meet the necessary
requirements for integration into Europe. During the first two years
of its existence, the Pact has generated substantial additional financial
support for the region, although perhaps not as much as it might have
been hoped. Also, importantly, it has significantly speeded up the delivery
of this aid. But our countries can only participate in a competitive
European market if all our citizens share the benefits of the rule of
law, with effective state institutions, transparency and accountability
in the management of public affairs, respect for human rights, and a
say in the decisions that affect their lives. In the end, the main impetus
has to come from the national governments and not from the international
Seven labels for the Balkan region are still paving the way for rivalry,
rather than solidarity in some case scenarios. The Stability Pact works
to build solidarity and end rivalries. It seeks prosperity, social justice
and equal opportunities for all the citizens of the region, because,
in the words of one of the “other” Europe’s most inspirational
voices, Vaclav Havel: “the salvation of this human world lies
nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect,
in human meekness and in human responsibility".
Let me now end by thanking our host for this worthwhile initiative.
As a former UNESCO staff myself, I believe that UNESCO, by using a cross-
sectorial approach and avoid duplication, could make a very good partner
for the Stability Pact, especially in programmes pertaining to communication
and education. I personally perceive your work as that of an organisation
giving a particular human touch to the overall efforts of the international
community. This is why, both the Regional Envoy and myself were not
surprised, but only pleasantly touched by the commencement of the working
document we have received for the preparation of this conference “it
is in this sub-region of Europe that, almost three thousand years ago,
the European continent was spiritually born”. One of the reasons
for which we are here today is to revive this sentiment.
Thank you for all your work.