On Friday, September 8 2023, in the BiH Parliamentary Assembly discussed three mobility agreements (3MA) signed by the leaders of the Western Balkans in Berlin on November 3, 2022 as part of the Berlin process, which concern the free crossing of borders in the region without passports , mutual recognition of higher education diplomas and qualifications and recognition of professional qualifications for doctors of medicine, dentistry and architects. The signatory countries are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia.
The conference was organized by three civil society organizations: Centar za promociju civilnog društva (CPCD – BiH), the Institute for Cooperation and Development (CDI – Albania) and the Center for Policy and Management (CPU – BiH).
Aida Daguda, director of CPCD, emphasized the importance of the three agreements on mobility both from the aspect of free movement of all citizens of the Western Balkans with an ID card only, and for free movement in the academic sector and added: “We believe that it is very important that this event took place here in Sarajevo, because our country is the most behind in the ratification of these agreements. We decided to “bring” the Berlin Process here and to talk with decision makers about the need to adopt these agreements as soon as possible, because citizens need results, not just promises. The Berlin process is a political process that prepares and leads the region towards membership in the European Union, and that is why it is important for all of us.”
Johann Sattler, Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasized that integration into the region and integration with the European Union are two inseparable processes: “In a month we expect a new summit and we hope to have the opportunity to see that all agreements have been ratified. I want integration to happen as soon as possible and for 18 million people to have a single market, and for countries to show that they can cooperate with each other.” On that occasion, he added that the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, will visit Bosnia and Herzegovina in October to announce a new package of aid, but not only financial aid.
“There is no consensus in BiH regarding these three agreements and we are the only country where the process is separated. The three agreements do not go together, the agreement on freedom of movement is on one side, and the other two agreements on the recognition of qualifications and diplomas are on the other side,” said Adis Muhović, director of the Center for Policy and Management in BiH, claiming that it has nothing to do with government structures, but with the “tactics of Milorad Dodik, who blocks all the most important political decisions and then uses them as a deposit in negotiations or “sells” them as political favors.”
As part of the introductory speeches at the Conference, about the importance of the agreement spoke H.E. Olav Reinertsen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Amer Kapetanović, head of the political department of the Council for Regional Cooperation (RCC) and Denis Zvizdić, Second Deputy Speaker of the BiH House of Representatives.
“The importance of the Berlin process has two key components. The first is progress on the EU integration path, and the second is regional cooperation. Bosnia and Herzegovina has gained a lot thanks to its participation in this process. Not only through progress on the EU path, but also through projects and grants approved at regular annual conferences.”, emphasized Zvizdić.
A dynamic discussion was held during both panels. In the first panel, which was held on the subject of the current status of the ratification of the agreement, spoke: Valeska Esch, advisor to the Special Envoy of the Federal Government of Germany for the Western Balkans, Emina Muminović, project coordinator of the Center for Contemporary Policies from Serbia, Adis Muhović, director of the Center for Policies and Management from Bosnia and Herzegovina , Burim Ejupi, executive director of the Institute for Policy Development from Kosovo and Zoran Nechev in front of the Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis Skopje IDSCS.
The discussion was moderated by Ardian Hackaj, CDI. The role of civil society in the process of implementation of the agreement, investment in synergy, cooperation, trust and increasing expertise in work was strongly emphasized. The importance of cooperation with the Parliament, which is often overlooked and is a key element of stronger oversight, as well as those with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) was emphasized. It was also underlined that the biggest achievements are not seen in the public eye, with an emphasis on the mobility agreements reached between Kosovo and Serbia, whose citizens have the possibility to cross the border with identity cards.
In the second panel, held on the topic “Assessment of the impact of the agreement on mobility and which way forward”, the following spoke: Marika Djolai, lecturer on Peace and International Development, University of Bradford, BiEPAG, Saša Trivić, President of the Union of Employers of the Republika Srpska, Sabina Čudić, representative in the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH and Matea Jerković, journalist. The discussion was moderated by Dajana Cvjetković, CPCD program manager.