Norway’s involvement in the Western Balkans

Since 1991 Norway’s total project assistance to the Western Balkans  has reached more than NOK 10 billion. (approximately € 1,2 billion.). For 2009 the allocation is NOK 575 million. The assistance primarily targets key reform and development processes in the region, and increasingly focuses on democracy-building measures, long-term capacity- and institution-building and private sector development, supporting regional stability and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Challenges

The countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) are still facing serious challenges and are undergoing major economic, political and social restructuring. Reforms have been initiated in all of the countries, but more reforms – often politically controversial – are needed.

Although developments in the region over the last few years have been generally positive, the Western Balkans still have the potential for conflict and instability. Furthermore, the global economic downturn which already has affected the Western Balkans, may increase social and political tensions.

The role of Norway

The overall objective of Norwegian assistance to the Western Balkans since 1991 has been to promote peace, reconciliation, the rule of law and democracy in the region. In 2009, the assistance will amount to NOK 575 million (approximately € 67 million). Norwegian assistance primarily targets key reform and development processes in the region, and increasingly focuses on democracy-building measures, long-term capacity- and institution-building and private sector development.

The stronger institutional links to the EU and the considerable increase in transfer of funds from the EU to the countries in the region, will also have an impact on Norwegian priorities. Euro-Atlantic integration to promote stability and democratisation in the countries of the region and in the region as a whole are central to Norway’s efforts in the Western Balkans. High priority is being given to the implementation of the EU Stabilisation and Association process which has given the Western Balkan countries the prospect not only of closer cooperation with the EU, but also of possible future membership.

Regional stability and Euro-Atlantic integration

Special attention is given to measures to reinforce regional stability and integration processes in the region. A substantial amount of assistance is allocated to economic, political and social reform processes, capacity and institution building, security and justice reform, the education sector and private sector development including energy and environment. Measures targeting children, youth, women and ethnic minorities are also being given priority. The fight against organised crime including trafficking in women and children, is a key area for Norwegian assistance.

NGOs

Norwegian project assistance to the Western Balkans is channeled mainly through Norwegian, international and local NGOs, Norwegian government institutions, the UN system and other multilateral actors. The Embassies manage their own project funds for small projects and local initiatives. Most of the project cooperation with Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro is organised through bilateral project programs closely coordinated with the authorities in the receiving countries.

See link for guidelines for applications for grants for peace and reconciliation initiatives in the Western Balkans, item 164.71 of the government budget.

Source: Regjeringen.no

By the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Section for Western Balkan Affairs

Last revised February 2009

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