The Executive Director of the Western Balkans Fund, Dr. Murra, opened the Awarding Ceremony with a speech that emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and the impact that the 30 winners of the 4th Call for Proposal will have on this region.
Full Remarks (as prepared for delivery)
Distinguished Ambassadors and Representatives of Diplomatic Corps
Dear Representatives from the European Union Delegation
Respected Minister and Deputy Minister
Dear partners and friends
Thank you for being here, in this landmark event of our organisation!
Today we will pay tribute to 30 brilliant Projects and the new partnerships created during our fourth Call for Proposal, a joint action between Western Balkans Fund and the European Union.
This event is dedicated to our Awarded Grantees, our new champions of regional Cooperation, coming from all over the region!
Since our establishment, we have now funded 99 projects, with more than 15.000 direct beneficiaries, establishing a network of more than 4.000 new partnerships.
This could have not been possible without ever-increasing support from our founders, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and our precious strategic partners, like the International Visegrad Fund and V4 countries, Switzerland, Japan and Peace Nexus. Thank you!
The output of our work is an excellent example of how the partnership between the European Union, public institutions and the civil society, the main beneficiary of our grants, can help shape the present and the future.
Because of this support, the Western Balkans Fund has become a fruitful instrument that helps grow new ideas, new grassroots organisations, and new faces that help unleash all the great, untapped potential of this region.
As a matter of fact, during this Call, two-thirds of the applications were submitted by new, many of them young and grassroots organisations.
Less than 10% of the applicant had been awarded previously. The chemistry between the newcomers and us is one of the best features of our co-funded Regional Grant Scheme, and we intend to very much reinforce this quality in the future.
Ladies and Gentleman
The growth of the Western Balkans Fund can be compared with that of a child, that first learned how to speak, then how to walk and now how to run. But, if the growth can be measured by milestones, the last year has been a truly remarkable year for us.
Of course there have be challenges. In fact, we never had a smooth ride. But nobody said that building up a network of four thousand partners would have been easy!
Alone, we fail. Only together we can endure and succeed.
Without taking much time, allow me to close my remarks as I started.
By addressing the ones for which we are here tonight, our grantees.
The Western Balkans Fund is the heart that keeps the blood circulating. But, without a body, a heart is useless. You are now our body, our eyes and ears. We have trusted you not only with a grant, but a with great responsibility:
To be the role models, the champions, we need!
We have seen so many bright ideas, talent, and innovation in your projects.
We are more than confident that you will succeed also during the implementation phase, showing strong commitment to continue the path of Reconciliation, Friendship and Cooperation in our beautiful Region.
Thank you, and I wish all of you all the best in the successful implementation of your projects.