Forum for International Relations
The Forum for International Relations was founded in 1992, originally named the Civic Alliance of Serbia’s Commission for International Relations, it took its present name as an independent body within the framework of the European Movement in Serbia in 1995. The Forum has been continuously active to date. It was established by a group of eminent professors and researchers in the fields of international law and international political and economic relations, experienced diplomats, and leading foreign policy analysts from the independent media who decided to join the European Movement in Serbia. From the very beginning, the Forum brought together some of the most prominent foreign policy experts, who represent its most valuable asset. The Forum is a unique institution in terms of its membership, competences and democratic qualities. For fifteen years now, the Forum has been holding meetings with a guest speaker, every single Wednesday at 6:00 pm, to discuss topics relevant for foreign policy and international relations. The Forum is focused on giving its contribution to public understanding of today’s changing world, based on realistic premises, and formulating Serbia’s policy based on such an approach. The Forum has often addressed the general public with its evaluations, opinions, initiatives and documents. Among other things, it offered a Draft Platform for an Alternative Foreign Policy. The Forum has also organized a number of open sessions on current international policy issues.
The Research Forum (ReF) represent a new permanent program body of European Movement in Serbia and functional mechanism for involvement of independent experts, members and close associates of EMinS in research-analytical work and process of advocacy for alternative public policy papers. Research Forum conducts comprehensive and thorough researches and analyses of actual situation in the reform process in concrete fields are conducted and produce alternative public policy proposals for effective and efficient reform in all relevant areas for the process of European Integration of Serbia. In that way ReF seeks to establish and strengthen communication with relevant stakeholders and decision-makers, as well as with representatives from the business, civil society and academia, and wider public.
Why Research Forum?
All EMinS’ researches were thorough and had included elements of practical policy within both defined priorities and developed concrete policy recommendations in order to foster necessary reforms and modernization of concrete processes and definition/implementation of particular policies.
Bearing in mind further phases in the reform process in Serbia in the context of accession to the EU, as well as expected status of candidate country and opening negotiation with the EU, the role of civil society organizations takes on a different character. Expectations from CSOs and so called think tank organizations should be equal with the challenges of reaching the standards and implementation of laws in concrete areas. This implies existence of profiled organizations as referent, expert and inevitable partner to the both state authorities and EU institutions in monitoring process of fulfilling criteria for EU membership, creation of strategies and public policy proposals.
Political environment in Serbia is characterized by adoption of regulations and laws in an expedited procedure that affects the quality of laws and absence of public debate. One of the main remarks from European Commission in its Progress Reports refers to insufficient and inconsistent implementation of existing Laws, Strategies and Action plans.
All circumstances presented above indicate necessity for engaged approach of all actors in Serbia, including CSOs in the process of advocacy for and interpretation of EU policies and explanations of all important developing elements of EU-Serbia relationship. Besides, Serbia lacks developed evaluation and monitoring culture of the effects of implemented programs and policies at the local and national level and developed domestic expertize in the field of evaluation.
Especially important aspect when considering possibilities for establishment of ReF represent necessity of expert’s help to very low capacities and ineffectiveness of Serbian governance in process of European Integration that will contribute to the consolidation of Serbia as modern European state. Released from all political influences and pressures, ReF’s members should contribute to the encouragement and fostering of reforms and European Integration of Serbia through independent work and expert analyses.
Objectives of the Research Forum
- Involvement of all relevant independent experts, members and close associates of EMinS, conduction of researches and preparation of public policy papers based on innovative, multidisciplinary and comprehensive approaches.
- Formulation of alternative public policy papers (proposals) for strengthening and development of efficiency and effectiveness of reforms in all relevant areas within the context of EU integration of Serbia.
- Adotpion of official state documents based on provided policy papers (proposals) in different fields in both defining priorities and developing policy options which will produce direct impact on political and economic reforms and modernization of the state and whole society during EU accession process.
- Establishment and development of internal and external communication with all interested actors, decision makers, business representatives, CSOs, academia, media and wider public in order to inform them about ReF activities and public policy papers (recommendations) and creation of mechanism for advocacy and promotion.
- Strengthening of public debate involvement in designing policy proposals and participatory decision-making on concrete suggestions for solving present society problems at different administrative levels, which would generate better solutions, greater public activism, linkage citizens with government and understanding of problems during Serbian EU Integration process.
- Improvement of cross-sectoral cooperation in decision-making process.
- Encouraging young researchers to take active role in process of preparation of policy papers in different fields.
- Establishment and strengthening of strategic partnerships with related organizations in the Western Balkan region, EU and other research and political centers in Europe and worldwide.
Policy areas and structure of Research Forum
Research Forum is consisted of Research Units – small, expert and qualified groups performing high quality research in different fields. Members of the Research Forum are the ReF’s President, coordinators of Research Units and ReF’s coordinator. Each Research Unit has its coordinator and several members (researchers).
It is estimated that EMinS has capacity and potential to provide efficient, expert and comprehensive researches in following fields within the frame of the same-name Research Units:
- European Integration
- Foreign Policy
- Regional Cooperation
- Environmental protection
- Pre-accession Funds of the EU and Regional Development
Policy areas and structure of Research Forum
Results of the ReF’s work will be concrete public policy papers (recommendations) based on innovative, inclusive, multidisciplinary and transparent approaches that would offer analysis of present situation in particular field, overview of all possible solutions for the State in the context of European Integration and opening of the public discussion about concrete proposals for resolving of concrete society problems. On the other side, it would provide strong arguments provided to politacl parties and other relevant actors in order to discuss the possibilities of acceptation of ReF’s documents as official, state policies.
By establishment of ReF, EMinS intends to strengthen its research capacities and potential and to influence on fostering and increase of experts in different fields. The intention is to position ReF as reliable and credible partner for different target groups in the context of Serbia’s EU accession process. The Research Forum will formulate alternative policy proposals for enhancing efficiency in the process of EU integration through researches within formed Research Units.
Communication of the Research Forum
Members of the Research Forum will prepare and publish its policy proposals quarterly. ReF will present first policy proposals by the end of 2011. All documents will be available on the EMinS website www.emins.org. By organizing of public promotions of its policy proposals and by fostering discussions and communication with representatives of public institutions and authorities, business sector, academia and organizations of civil society and media ReF intends to contribute to the opening of public discussion about competent recommendations for solving of concrete problems in society and, by that, indirectly to contribute to the better information and involvement of citizens in this process.
Research forum is financially supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.