On October 31st of 2023, the Regional Meeting of Green Parliamentary Groups of the Western Balkans was held in Belgrade. This meeting brought together a diverse group of participants from across the Western Balkans. It showcased the commitment of various stakeholders, which included members of GPGs (Green Parliamentary Group) across the Western Balkans, staff members from Western Balkans parliaments, representatives of Schools of Political Studies, and the dedicated team from ORF-ETC.
The regional meeting was organized into two distinctive sections, each with a specific focus and objective.
Section 1: Transport Community Visit The first half of the meeting was dedicated to a visit to the Transport Community, where the participants had the opportunity of meeting with Matej Zakonjsek, the Director of the Transport Community Permanent Secretariat. Mr. Zakonjsek underscored the importance of cooperation among all stakeholders to achieve complete integration of the Transport Markets of the Western Balkans with the European Union. He elaborated on the work of the Transport Community and its pivotal role in the Western Balkans, emphasizing the need to increase efforts in the following areas:
- Renovation and Upgrade of Ports: Highlighting the need to modernize and enhance ports across the Western Balkan countries.
- Railway Improvements: Stressing the importance of improving and expanding railway networks to enhance connectivity.
- Border-Crossing Enhancements: Discussing the significance of optimizing border-crossing procedures.
- Standard Implementation: Emphasizing the adoption of standardized practices to align with EU standards across the Western Balkans countries.
Mr. Zakonjsek concluded his introductory speech by addressing the participants directly, stating, “You are one of the key people who will help deliver concrete benefits to the citizens. We need your support because only together can we bring certain projects to fruition.” He highlighted the unprecedented focus on enlargement and expressed that “Enlargement has never been higher on the agenda as it is now.”
Following Mr. Zakonjsek’s insightful address, Jasna Sekulovic, the ORF-ETC Programme Component Manager, took the floor to provide further context to the meeting. Mrs. Sekulovic briefly introduced the ORF-ETC (Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy, Transport and Climate Protection), highlighting the remarkable achievements of the previous ORF-ETC phase. She went on to shed light on the ongoing project, “Capacity Development of informal Green Parliamentary Groups from South-East Europe on EU-compliant Energy and Transport Goals” and briefly touched upon the exciting GPG project activities and regional initiatives. Mrs. Sekulovic extended her warm welcome to Mr. Zakonjsek’s eagerness for cooperation, emphasizing the vital importance of enhancing synergy between GPGs across the Western Balkans and the Transport Community Secretariat. This emphasis on cooperation between key stakeholders displays the shared commitment to driving positive change in the region and aligning with European Union standards for energy and transport goals.
Section 2: Draft GPGs Action Plan on Joint Regional and Synchronized Green Agenda Activities The second part of the regional meeting centered around the presentation of the draft GPGs Action Plan for Joint Regional and Synchronized Green Agenda Activities. Participants engaged in fruitful discussions and reached a final consensus on the next joint activities, underlining the commitment to a greener future for the Western Balkans.
The event was a remarkable opportunity for participants to exchange ideas, collaborate, and work together to address critical issues related to transportation and environmental policies in the region.