WELL BEING FOR THE WESTERN BALKANS: GRASSROOTS BOOST
Civil society actors working on prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE) should be further empowered, especially those working with schools, teachers and students, as well as families – is the main message of the online event “Well Being for The Western Balkans: GrassrootsBoost” which gathered more than 50 representatives of civil society organizations, international community and institutions from the region.
The event was organized with an aim to provide an opportunity for new and experienced practitioners to exchange knowledge and to network and to present twenty-four initiatives supported through a small grants program “Building Communities’ Resilience to Violent Extremism in the Western Balkans”.
During the event opening Forum MNE Executive Director Elvira Hadzibegovic Bubanja gave short overview of project goals, activities, and reflected on the small grants program:
“A total of 206 applications were received within the call for proposals. It has been launched with aim to support grassroots organizations and local CSOs in the Western Balkans in their efforts to build and increase community resilience to violent extremism though creation of local partnerships and joint community-based P/CVE actions with other relevant actors: authorities, faith-based organizations, cultural institutions, youth associations, media and academia” – said Hadzibegovic Bubanja.
Rade Milosevic, State Secretary in the Ministry of Interior of Montenegro addressed the audience through video message, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between government and the civil sector.
“Combating violent extremism and radicalism is one of the ministry’s most important topics. We appreciate everything that civil society organizations have done so far and we want to be their partners in the future. Regardless of the fact that there are no objective threats from terrorist acts in Montenegro, we are committed to contributing to the fight against this phenomenon and raising awareness of its importance”, Milosevic concluded.
Beside CSO participants, the event was attended by representatives of the relevant international community and organizations dealing with P/CVE topic in the Western Balkan region.
Olivia Debaveye, Programme Manager, DG NEAR – Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission during the welcoming speech stressed that the Western Balkans remains the EU top priority.
“Our engagement on the rule of law and security matters continue to be of crucial importance. Rule of law is the key aspect of the democratic transformation and the key benchmark against which the enlargement countries progress towards membership is assessed by the EU”, pointed out Debaveye.
Filip De Ceuninck, EU regional Counter-Terrorism Advisor within the EU Delegation in Sarajevo stressed the importance of joint work.
“Bringing together different project managers and field workers from the region to share experiences and good practices can only contribute to making our CVE course even more efficient.”
Twenty-four projects were supported – four in each of the participating countries. The total amount of funds provided for this purpose is 120.025,27 EUR. Supported initiatives in Montenegro are: “Local Action Planning – Step Towards the Society for Everyone (NGO Alfa Center)”, “Schools as a Resource for Prevention and Countering Hate Speech, Extremism and Radicalism” (NGO Children of Montenegro), “Prevention Through Community Involvement” (Monitoring Group Ulcinj – MogUL), and “#IsolateExtremism” (NGO COSMO).
Information about project from other countries can be found HERE.
Guest speaker Eric Rosand, President and Founder of PVE Solutions in Washington, DC and Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London concluded the event with remarks that local CSOs actors in the P/CVE field should be further empowered, especially those working with schools, teachers and students, as well as families. He also stressed that “Although governments’ recognition of CSOs role in P/CVE is generally on an upward trajectory, very few governments actually provide concrete, let alone, sustained support for the CSOs.”
The activity is part of the regional project “Communities First: Creation of a civil society hub to address issue of violent extremism – from prevention to reintegration” implemented by Forum MNE (Montenegro) in partnership with Centre for Legal Civic Initiatives (Albania), Hope and Homes for Children (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Partners Kosova – Centre for Conflict Management (Kosovo), Centre for Common Ground (North Macedonia), and Cultural Centre DamaD (Serbia), funded by the European Union and co-funded by the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro.
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