Meeting of the Western Balkans Working Group of the European Committee of the Regions
Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation of the Republic of Srpska, in cooperation with the European Committee of the Regions and Republic of Srpska Representation in Brussels, organized a meeting of the Working Group on the Western Balkans of the European Committee of the Regions, on October 25, 2017 at the Administrative Center of the Government of the Republic of Srpska in Istočno Sarajevo.
The main topics of the meeting included cross-border cooperation, EU pre-accession funds and economic cooperation between local self-government units of the Republic of Srpska and FBiH.
In her rendition, the RS Minister of Administration and Local Self-Government Lejla Rešić spoke about the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Srpska to European integration and role of the local self-government units.
"On many occasions, the Republic of Srpska has demonstrated its commitment to the process of European integration, and I can say that it is leading in fulfilling the obligations arising from that process," said Rešić.
According to her, the Republic of Srpska also recognizes the irreplaceability of local authorities and local self-government units in the system of governance of a modern state.
The Chair of the meeting of the Western Balkans Working Group, Mr. Franz Schausberger thanked the Government of the Republic of Srpska and Republic of Srpska Representation in Brussels for the support in organizing the 21st meeting of the Working Group and highlighted the importance of discussion about the topics of the meeting which are of immediate importance for life of the citizens.
ead of the EU Delegation and EU Representative in BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark underscored that BiH had to be in focus of the European Union and that it deserved to become an EU member together with other countries of the region, because of its key position for the stability of the Western Balkans.
Participant in the first session on cross-border cooperation and IPA funds, Assistant minister for European integration at the Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation of the Republic of Srpska Radmila Dragišić spoke about the need for a consistent application of the coordination mechanism in the process of European integration in BiH, and pointed out the necessity for a balanced EU financial support to various levels of government.
Several mayors also took part in the meeting of the Working Group on the Western Balkans, including Luka Petrović from Trebinje, Milenko Đaković from Prijedor, Mićo Mićić from Bijeljina, Mato Zovko from Žepče and Ljubo Bešlić from Mostar.
During the two-day meeting in Istočno Sarajevo, the Working Group on the Western Balkans also paid a visit to the Rectorate of the University of Istočno Sarajevo where they met with students and had an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience on the EU and the "EU exchanging programs".
The Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Quality Assurance at the University of Istočno Sarajevo, Dejan Bokonjić, stressed the importance of this visit and added that the University sees a great chance for its activities in cooperation with the local community and economy.
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the European Union's (EU) assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities (i.e. regions, counties, provinces, municipalities and cities) with a direct voice within the EU's institutional framework.
The Working Group (WG) on the Western Balkans was created in 2006. Its role is to provide CoR members with an instrument aimed at encouraging greater inclusion of the territorial dimension in the enlargement process for the Western Balkans region.
The WG also contributes to the CoR's involvement in inter-institutional cooperation in this field, while maintaining political dialogue between the EU's local and regional authorities and their Western Balkan counterparts.
In addition, the WG contributes to the work of the CoR Rapporteurs responsible for setting out the CoR's position through an in-depth and inclusive debate. It consists of twelve CoR members, meets twice a year and operates on a country-by-country approach, ensuring that each meeting is dedicated to a specific Western Balkan country.