Participants of a Leadership Academy Programme for Cross-border Cooperation programme held in the Nisava border region between Serbia and Bulgaria signed a political declaration reaffirming that the benefits of cross-border cooperation are not limited to the integrated development of border areas but are essential to achieving peace, prosperity, and stability in Europe.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Ambassador of Serbia to the Republic of Bulgaria, H.E. Prof. Dr. Željko Jović, congratulated participants and stressed that developing cross-border links between neighbouring communities is key to creating a safe and sustainable future for the youth of the region. Ms Sanda Šimić from the Ministry of European Integration in Belgrade acknowledged the support of the Council of Europe in promoting cross-border cooperation and contributing the European integration process in Serbia. She noted that the 2021-2027 Programming Period of the European Commission should offer opportunities for cross-border initiatives and invited participants to prepare proposals in response to an upcoming call.
Professor Kosyo Stoychev, speaking on behalf of Bulgarian participants, expressed hope that the political declaration and commitment of all participants to deepening cross-border cooperation in the Nišava region would help break down barriers and lead to opportunities for stable, sustainable development based on the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance.
Participants called on the Council of Europe to continue to support local and regional authorities engaged in cross-border and interterritorial cooperation by providing technical support and tailoring specific capacity-building tools to cross-border cooperation needs and peculiarities. They also invited member States to consider the ratification of Protocol no. 3 to the Outline Madrid Convention, thus widening the range of tools available to local and regional authorities.
This Leadership Academy Programme has been implemented by CESCI Balkans, with the support of the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance of the Council of Europe and a contribution from ISIG – Institute of International Sociology of Gorizia. A series of in-person capacity-building workshops and online discussion forums have led to the development of a political declaration and draft memorandum of understanding between 9 municipalities and several civil society actors.