In the period from 1 to 5 November fourteen participants of Regional Academy for Democracy had the opportunity to visit Berlin and meet number of German officials and academics and discuss with them burning issues in contemporary German politics. Robert Bosch Foundation, which is one of the partners of the RAD organized and supported this study visit.
The highlight of the first day of the study visit was the meeting in the German Parliament – the Bundestag. The participants met members of Parliament from the Social Democratic Party Metin Hekverdi and Josip Juratović. In an open dialogue many topics were covered, most of them concerning German relations with the Western Balkans region. The necessity of regional cooperation, reconciliation and democratic deficit of political elites were pointed out as greatest problems of full integration of the region to the European Union. Apart from meetings in the Bundestag the participants were able to hear about transparency and efficiency in the administration from Bertil Sander from National Regulatory Control Council. They also had the guided tour through the exhibition “Unification. German society in transition” in the German Historical Museum. The day was finished with the dinner with Arnd Henze, TV Correspondent from ARD who engaged the participants in the discussion about the refugee crisis, which is the burning issue nowadays in Germany.
Second day started with the visit to the Stasi Museum and discussion with Roland Jahn from Federal Commission for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) about the necessity of confronting the authoritarian past. The participants had also the introduction into German-Southeast European trade relations and the impact of the financial crisis by Anja Quiring from the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations and political system and political culture of Germany by Steffen Hebestreit, Head of the Representation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the Federation. Also Sandra Breka, Senior Vice President of the Robert Bosch Foundation, gave some facts about Robert Bosch and the Foundation.
The highlight of the second day was the visit to the Federal Foreign Ministry and meeting with Ernst Reichel on the position of the Western Balkans in the German foreign policy agenda.
The discussion, which was very open and straightforward, showed that apart from the refugee crises, Western Balkans in not high at the list of German priorities.
The day was finished with the dinner with the ambassadors/ chargé d ́affaires of all the Western Balkans countries.
Third day was reserved for the mini conference with the RAD Alumni and German experts on the topics that were cover during all three years of RAD existence. Judy Dempsey from Carnegie Europe, Josef Janning from European Council on Foreign Relations and Florian Qehaja from Kosovo Centre for Security Studies discussed the latest issues of security cooperation in the region.Goran Selanec, deputy Commissioner or Gender Equality from Croatia and Annamaria Vicsek, Member of Parliament from Serbia discussed issues of human and minority rights in the region. And finally, Niklas Treutner from Liquid Democracy and Lana Prlić, Vice President of Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina discussed the important issue of citizens’ participation and building democratic institutions.