A region in transition

A Region in Transition

In 1992 FNF started its work in the Western Balkans. Since 2000 it has worked from its office in Belgrade. Working from Serbia, a key country in the region, FNF offers its partners political education, political dialogue and consultation. In Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro liberal partners in politics and civil society strive to change and guide their countries on the transition path towards more rule of law, a free market society and more European perspectives.

However this bumpy path is challenged by popust and authoritarian-style parties. Recent developments such as the economic crisis exposed the weaknesses within the new democracies. High unemployment rates, corruption and lack of prospects for the younger generation has led to brain-drain and migration.

Accountability in Politics Europe’s current refugee crisis puts a spotlight on the Western Balkans Route and its constituent countries. By taking responsibility for the safety of refugees passing through their countries, both Serbia and Croatia have shown a high degree of commitment, despite having a plethora of internal problems. Serbia’s prospects for joining the EU plays a crucial role in encouraging political elites to embark on reforms needed to further democratize their country.

Smart Cities - Responsive Cities FNF in the Western Balkans encourages its partners; six political parties and a number of NGOs in the fields of economic freedom and human rights - to develop concrete visions of hope for the people of their respective countries. Young politicians from all democratically elected parties meet for cross-border dialogues (Serbian-Kosovar, Serbian-Bosnian, and Serbian-Croatian). Local councillors expand their networks and exchange their experience of policies concerning their citizens. Universities in Osijek (Croatia) and Novi Sad (Serbia) have forged a new cooperation. This is how FNF Western Balkans invests in people. To offer a generation of emerging leaders throughout the West Balkan countries a wider framework in which they can discover their opportunities to become "agents of change" is one of the foremost aims of its programmes. But changes need time.

Accountability in Politics is a specially designed programme to empower civil society and politicians to change the style of politics in their countries. The programme enables opinion leaders to discuss the various aspects of this broad topic: bad governance, fighting corruption, rethinking the role of politicians vs their voters and to establish new mechanisms to strengthen citizens' control of the parliament, such as an "open parliament" or a "truth-o-meter". The key issue of all changes is Freedom. Thus the Western Balkans Region introduced a Freedom Barometer (www.freedombarometer.org) as a tool to measure the extent of freedom in the fields of economy, politics and the rule of law.

Smart Cities - Responsive Cities With its latest project “Smart Cities - Responsive Cities” the FNF project team builds on the knowledge and responsibility of the individual with regard to sustainable growth. Target groups involve local decision makers, young politicians and pupils. A new target group will be young entrepreneurs and start-ups. This project kicked off as a project dealing with the impact of climate change on cities.

For more information, kindly visit www.westbalkan.fnst.org or check out the Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/FNFWesternBalkans and www.facebook.com/FreedomBarometer.