2017 TRAIN Seminar in Berlin
This year’s TRAIN participants, twelve young political scientists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia, focus on the overarching theme of corruption and informal practices in the Western Balkans. The seminar in Berlin provided them with the opportunity to discuss their research proposals and to meet relevant German and European policy-makers.
After the opening seminar in Belgrade – where participants had got to know each other and developed the outlines of their respective policy papers – the mid-term seminar in Berlin provided them with the opportunity to present drafts of their papers and to receive detailed feedback from TRAIN alumni. They also worked on methods how best to present their work and disseminate advocacy among relevant stakeholders. In meetings with experts from the German Bundestag, the Federal Foreign Office, and the Chancellery, participants engaged in lively discussions and contributed their perspectives on recent developments and challenges in the region.
Meanwhile, seven TRAIN alumni took part in a networking and advocacy seminar focusing on the general framework and specific characteristics of Germany’s policy-making processes. They met the Head of Research Services at the German Bundestag, where they also engaged in discussions with policy advisors working on the Western Balkans.
The panel discussion “Democratic Backsliding in the Western Balkans: What Should the EU’s Role be?”, part of the DGAP’s “Brussels Briefing” series, provided a highlight of the participants’ stay in Berlin: the panel consisted of two TRAIN alumni as well as Michael Karnitschnig, head of EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn’s cabinet, and Dr. Christian Hellbach, the German Federal Foreign Office’s special envoy for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, and the EFTA States.
TRAIN stands for “Think Tanks Providing Research and Advice through Interaction and Networking” and offers training and networking opportunities to independent think tanks in the Western Balkans. Its aim is to support civil society and to strengthen the national and European policy dialogue on topics relevant the countries’ EU integration processes. The participating think tanks will present their results and recommendations in the countries of the region as well as in Brussels in the fall of 2017 and seek exchange with policy-makers at the national and EU level.