Komiteti Drejtues i Zyrës Evropiane të Ndërlidhjes së Paqes (EPLO) u mblodh në Bruksel për një takim vendimtar me zyrtarë të lartë të BE-së


Komiteti Drejtues i Zyrës Evropiane të Ndërlidhjes së Paqes (EPLO) u mblodh në Bruksel për një takim vendimtar me zyrtarë të lartë të BE-së

May 15, 2024 – The European Peace Liaison Office (EPLO) Steering Committee convened in Brussels for a crucial meeting with senior EU officials: Mr. Peter Wagner, Head of Unit for Regional Programmes, Neighborhood East, and Mr. Cosmin Dobran, Head of Unit for Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding, and Mediation Instruments. The meeting was attended also by Mentor Vrajolli, Executive Director of the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS), who recently joined the EPLO Steering Committee.

This meeting aims to explore how the EU can enhance its role as a global peace actor, using its diverse external action instruments and drawing on the links between peacebuilding and conflict prevention. The discussion will also reflect on the relevance and importance of peace in the context of the current geo-political challenges and the upcoming EC leadership transition.

EPLO Executive Director Ms. Sonya Reines Djivanides who led the meeting, providing a comprehensive overview of the organization’s ongoing efforts. The discussion centered on the critical role of civic space in fostering democratic societies. 

Vrajolli on his side stressed the relevance of preserving civic space in light of the current challenge that EU is facing. He also explored the situation of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans and Southeastern Europe countries. With recent requests for EU membership by Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Kosovo, the need for EU readiness to welcome new members by 2030 is crucial. The Western Balkans, while pursuing European integration, face difficulties such as the rule of law, media freedom, economic competitiveness, and regional cooperation. Civil society organizations have a key role in promoting accession processes, and the EU’s support is essential in this aspect. He also discussed how EPLO could assist with the aftermath of the Ukraine War. He proposed that EPLO could apply the lessons learned from peacebuilding and security sector reform in the Western Balkans to support Ukraine’s post-conflict recovery. By challenging Russian narratives and encouraging democratic engagement, EPLO has a vital role in lasting peace. Collaborating with regional partners and local actions against hate speech also enhances EPLO’s influence.

In addition, Vrajolli spoke about the risk of reducing civil society participation in Europe in the peacebuilding processes and the tendency of the EU to focus on the security sector by undermining to some level the importance of the peacebuilding approach. He stressed that while it may be difficult to assess tangible and dynamic results in peacebuilding efforts, it is very easy to observe the decline in peace when investments in peacebuilding are halted. He used the Western Balkans as an example, where until 2015 there was hardly any discussion about the possible outbreak of the conflict, thanks to the international support for peacebuilding. However, since then, the support has dropped significantly, and now the potential for conflict has risen dramatically. Therefore, peacebuilding investments should be continuous and should complement the high-level peace mediation efforts. Otherwise, any neglect would result in much more costly and reactive interventions in the conflict. He also pointed out that the fact that the EU is investing in developing its security capacities is directly related to its current inability to deal with multiple challenges at once.

The EPLO steering committee members are optimistic that the meeting will positively contribute to keeping EU focused on peacebuilding as a priority within the frame of its newly developed security strategies.