Round table rallies experts to help Yugoslavia's transition

Report
from UN Development Programme
Published on 31 Jul 2002
International experts UNDP brought together at a round table in Belgrade earlier this month provided advice on transforming the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into a state union of Serbia and Montenegro.
The event focused on governmental, economic and social consequences of the transition, helping to build consensus on a Constitutional Charter scheduled for completion by the end of July. Leaders from the Federal, Serbian and Montenegrin governments participated in the event.

The transition was set in motion by an agreement in March among Federal, Serbian and Montenegrin leaders facilitated by European Union representative Javier Solana.

Yugoslav Federal President Vojislav Kostunica, in a keynote address, described the proposed new constitutional arrangement as a "solution by which everyone wins, but no one wins it all." He identified European Union membership as the country's strategic goal and said: "No one should underestimate the interest of Europe and the international community in establishing stability in the Balkans at long last - through integration, not separation."

"Our interests, and those of Europe and the international community, can and must be stronger than any open or disguised particularism and separatism," he said. "I do want to believe that this conference and the announced follow-ups are a sign of the international community's readiness to give a substantial contribution to peace and stability in the region."

Francis O'Donnell, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said that UNDP convened the event to provide a forum for broad-based dialogue. One aim is to assist in the next stage of constitutional transition - setting up "institutions and transitional mechanisms that would transform the Constitutional Charter into predictable actions by officials and offer greater certainty for citizens about their future."

The round table was the first major public forum bringing together important political players to air crucial constitutional issues. UNDP support reflects its experience in assisting transition in central Europe, as well its global development network, which supported democratic governance initiatives in 145 countries worldwide last year.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special advisor on the Millenium Development Goals, addressed the event via video from New York, underscoring the need to invest in science and development in the rapid pursuit of economic reforms.

A workshop following the round table brought together 65 experts from Serbia and Montenegro with the international advisors, known as "friends of transition." Topics included human and minority rights, public administration, international economic relations and social consequences of transition.

Among the advisors were Danuta Huebner, Poland's State Secretary for EU Integration and former Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe; Karel Dyba, economist and former Minister of Economic Affairs of the Czech Republic; and Ivan Krastev, Chairman and Research Director of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Other advisors were Costa Rica's former Environment Minister, Rene Castro, and Susan Woodward, Professor of Political Science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

A second round table, on new capacities, is planned for the fall in Montenegro.

For further information please contact Slobodan Brkic, slobodan.brkic@undp.org , UNDP Yugoslavia, or Erin Trowbridge,erin.trowbridge@undp.org, UNDP Communications Office.