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Promise of enhancing the policy dimension of the program

(photo: A round of applause at RAD graduation ceremony. Sarajevo, 15 November)

One more year of the Regional Academy for Democracy – BFPE’s and its partner organizations’ premier educational program – was successfully concluded in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on 15 November.

Our year-round discussion of principal challenges to protection and advancement of human and minority rights in Western Balkans closed with a debate on whether gender equality can be seen as a proper policy, and even more, one that is built on consensus of elites; or simple politics designed to draw more votes.

With this in mind, we had invited foremost practitioners from Bosnia and Herzegovina – Ms. Ana Trisic Babic, its Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ms. Samra Filipovic Hadziabdic who directs its Gender Equality Agency; MPs Besima Boric and Ismeta Dervoz. They were accompanied by experts from other parts of our region: former MP in the National Assembly of Serbia Donka Banovic and our alumni from Albania, Edlira Gjoni. Along with brilliant presentation of ODIHR’s Ajla Van Heel they brought many different, yet engaging and thought-provoking voices to the debate.

As it is customary in all RAD events, our alumni of 2013, also MPs – Sasa Magazinovic and Nikola Bastinac – offered their views on whether policies of consensus exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina of today. Their sincere approach was much appreciated by our participants.

Highlight of our program in Sarajevo took place on day three, when Igor Bandovic, guest and friend from the European Fund for the Balkans lead us through four scenarios for the future of Western Balkans. Scenarios were designed by EFB’s Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group earlier this year. Participants were then tasked with creating a scenario “E”, which they did. Without disclosing much detail, it can be said that their approach was the one of cautious optimism, in regard to countries’ EU aspirations.

In the afternoon, ceremony of awarding the certificates – previosly signed by Secretary General of the Council of Europe Torbjorn Jagland and Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Goran Svilanovic – was opened with an adress by our special guests, H.E. Ambassador of Italy in BIH Mr. Ruggero Corias, and Ms. Mary Ann Hennessey, Head of the CoE Office in Sarajevo.

With great satisfaction we are awaiting next year’s participants, who will be discussing challenges to building democratic institutions.

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