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Bringing WB closer to Europe

Dr. Murra, Executive Director of WBF full remarks during the inaugural ceremony of Support to the Promotion of Civil Society Regional Actions in the Western Balkans Project, co-funded by the European Union through the IPA – Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance

—As prepared for delivery—

Dear Minister Xhaçka

Dear Mr. Soreca,

Honourable Ambassadors and Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp

Dear Guests and Friends of the Western Balkans Fund

Thank you for being here for celebrating together this special day of our Fund!

A day in which we proudly rejoice our achievements and gain heart for future endeavours.

Today we are launching the joint  WBF-EU Project: “Support to the promotion of Civil Society regional actions in the Western Balkans”.

For us at WBF, this project and the joining of forces with EU, means a lot!

We consider the trust that European Union put on us, as a sign of growth by our organization in the last four years.

As a matter of fact, to obtain the trust of using the European taxpayer’s funds, the WBF was x-rayed in the smallest details. And we fulfilled the high standard expected by the EU for its partners.
That’s why, besides positive financial implications, we consider the EU cooperation agreement as a hugely important confirmation of our work.

Dear Mr. Soreca, fully aware that EU endorsement brings new, added responsibilities, let me reassure you that we at WBF will do our best to fulfil all the project requirements.

We have matured in a unique regional mechanism that promotes and forges partnerships in almost every area of regional cooperation and, most importantly, for the common peoples in our region.

We take pride in being a showcase of success, in pursuing a common, overarching goal.

We take pride in establishing a regionally owned tool of supporting regional activities, like other European Regions have merged and strengthened cooperation in the past.

All this would have been impossible without the crucial backing of our Ministries, and you, dear representatives of WB6 Embassies in Tirana, providing constant support to our growth.

Let me use this opportunity to highlight the special contribution of Albania as the host country of our Fund and continuing with North Macedonia as the Chairmanship in Office of our Organization.

Dear, Miss. Xhaçka, your presence today is very much appreciated and significant and for that please accept our deepest gratitude and appreciation.

On this happy occasion let me thank our precious partners: The Swiss and Japanese Governments, the V4 Group and International Visegrad Fund, our models to be followed, Peace Nexus Foundation, and all our stakeholders.

This memorable day also bears your mark!

Honourable Guests

Seventy years ago, one of Europe’s founding fathers, Robert Schuman remarked: “Europe will not be made at once, or according to a single plan, but it will be built through concrete achievements that first create a de facto solidarity”‘.

I believe that this is precisely how the European Western Balkans will also be built. Not through a single plan, not through a single action, and most certainly, not into a single night.

But, there are many actions each of us can take, that brings Europe closer day after day.

Like the 68 regional projects funded by WBF throughout our activity.

Or, most importantly, like our network of 3.400 Civil Society Organizations, education, and Research Institutions, cultural and sports associations, business and local elected bodies from all over the region, involving more than 10.000 participants.

We now have an orchestra made by young musicians from the region. We have a WBF branded marathon. We have a regional theatre, and much more.

They all became regional champions thanks to our grants. The search for the next regional champions is open and thanks to the European Union’s support, we will be able to provide greater support in terms of size and number of projects.

Ladies and Gentleman

We, at the Western Balkans Fund encourage people to build a shared future. Our grants might be small, but our idea is big.

And there are no big and small ideas, but good and bad ones. Vaclav Havel’s motto was: “Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.”

Fortunately for us, the idea behind the Western Balkans Fund not only is good but also has every chance to succeed.

Europe was built from the ashes of the biggest tragedy of humankind by reconciliation and cooperation.

We are following the same path: By working together, by knowing each other better, and by understanding that we have more things in common, compared with what divides us.

And that we can change our destiny, from that of a region that produces more history than can consume, to that of the area who will be an integral part of Europe.

Or to play with our slogan, that of a region which will become the NEXT EUROPEAN CHAMPION.

Thanking you very much for being here and for your attention.