Over the past three years, the Balkan Trust for Democracy has led exchange programs for Kosovar and Serbian professionals, working in a variety of different sectors. With support from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and in partnership with the British Embassies in both Belgrade and Pristina, these programs have yielded great success. Please see below for further details on these programs.
Enhanced dialogue and exchange are essential to maintaining the stability, security, and further Euroatlantic integration of the Western Balkans. In partnership with the British Embassies in both Pristina and Belgrade and building on the past success of the Professional Work Exchange for Enhanced Policy Dialogue Program, the 2016 Enhanced Policy Dialogue of Professionals in Kosovo and Serbia Program (EPDP) aims to further normalize Kosovo-Serbia relations by strengthening communication platforms, advancing multi-perspective policy dialogue, and facilitating cooperation between representatives of governments, media, and legal organizations in both Kosovo and Serbia. There is added value in strengthening partnerships in policy work, including joint research, monitoring, and advocacy for inclusive policy development and implementation. Such partnerships foster:
- Enhanced Policy Capacity: If structured professional cooperation creates greater understanding of plural perspectives, then the resulting research and policy outputs will be more responsive to the needs and concerns of a multi-perspective reality.
- Informed Political Decision-making: If civil actors advocate for inclusive policies, then this contributes to evidence-based policy dialogue, broadens the understanding of decision-makers, and improves democratic accountability.
- Organizational Development: If collaborative communication allows institutions and individuals to expand their perspectives on issues, then a more rounded and regionally aware framework will be supported in the future.
- Public Awareness: If examples of Kosovo-Serbia cooperation are made visible, then increased public awareness will help improve regional relations and dialogue.
Program components, within the EPDP framework, include:
- A series of reciprocal policy-oriented work exchanges for journalists, and legal professionals for a period of two weeks.
- An intensive workshop for civil servants from Kosovo and Serbia, to provide a platform for dialogue and to strengthen the respective policy community.
- Outreach and advocacy support through, but not limited to, grants to the involved organizations and institutions to advance Kosovo-Serbia cooperation as the accepted norm for Euroatlantic integration.
- Published personal reflections, multi-perspective research outcomes, and policy and sectoral recommendations for enhanced cooperation.
- Promotion of the importance of active exchange to normalize relations, both regionally and internationally.
Professional Work Exchange for Enhanced Policy Dialogue Program
The 2014-2015 Professional Work Exchange for Enhanced Policy Dialogue Program consisted of a series of cross-border policy work exchanges of mid-career professionals from a targeted group of think tanks, CSOs, and universities in Kosovo and in Serbia. The aim of these work exchanges was to enhance the human resources and knowledge products of host organizations and facilitate the production of multi-perspective policy work in the field of government accountability and transparency, human rights protection, independent media, security and justice, and migration policies.
Goals of these four to eight week embedded exchanges:
- Facilitate the transfer of policy knowledge and best practices between and among host and sending think tanks, CSOs, and universities from Serbia and Kosovo, creating opportunities for sustained organizational collaboration.
- Foster the publication of multi-perspective policy and research knowledge products that result from the increased collaboration and interaction of researchers and analysts due to the work exchange program.
The hosting organization directly utilized the skills and knowledge of the work exchange participant in its ongoing projects, activities, and policy work. The Program did not finance any new stand-alone research as a result of the work exchange, but rather sought to ensure that exchange participants were tasked with contributing in meaningful ways to the production of joint policy outputs or processes that were relevant to the host organization’s mainstream fields of excellence.
Joint policy outputs or processes included:
- Policy papers, briefs, or articles
- Research studies, papers, or surveys
- Organized events, conferences, workshops, or symposia
- Back office know-how that supports policy output production
- Other policy-related activities that benefited the hosting organization’s primary mission and used the unique skill-sets of the work exchange participant.
- Participants of this program were mid-level researchers, policy experts, and specialists, and who were able to be matched with hosting organization needs.
These programs are implemented by the Balkan Trust for Democracy with the support of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.