Yesterday, the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training was successfully launched in the Regional School for Public Administration in Danilovgrad, Montenegro.
Jan Truszczynski, Director-General for Education and Culture, chaired the meeting in which ministers and/or deputy and assistant ministers from the Western Balkans participated.
In his opening speech Leopold Maurer, Head of EU Delegation in Montenegro, also welcomed the participation of all 7 regional partners for the first time since the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo[*] on regional cooperation. Jan Truszczynski emphasised that education has gradually moved to the centre of attention in the European Union recognising its key role in economic recovery and as a factor for growth.
Ministers Stijepovic and Panchev from Montenegro and fYRoM respectively as well as other participants welcomed the launch of the Platform by the EU underlining the opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation in the field of education and training.
The Platform is aimed at sharing experience and increasing synergies towards education reforms in line with EU standards and best practices, making the best use of the EU-level Open Method for Coordination and of EU assistance (about 500 millions euros in the education and training sector since 2007).
Presentations and discussions covered EU education policies, EU assistance to education in the Western Balkans, good practice observed at national level as well as the future cooperation and priority topics in 2012 and 2013. Ms Tinde Kovac-Cerovic, Serbian State Secretary, emphasised the potential for complementarities between this EU initiative and the Education Reform Initiative in South East Europe-ERISEE
The high-level participants agreed on priority topics. A regional activity will commence later this year on the important area of higher education quality, with EU support. All committed themselves to keep supporting the implementation of educational reforms in their countries and greater convergence with EU standards.
The date for the next high-level and steering meeting of the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training was set for the first quarter of 2013.
[*] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.