This “Citizens First” Conference is the third in a series of biennial regional conferences focusing on citizens and civil societies as partners and contributors in the design and monitoring of public administration reforms (PAR) in the Western Balkans, as part of the region’s EU integration path. These conferences aim to enhance and broaden the dialogue on creating and implementing inclusive and transparent PAR policies that meet citizens’ needs. We believe that, for governments to be motivated to change, it is necessary to increase the bottom-up demand for better administration in the Region, which will (coupled with the top-down requirements of the EU accession process) contribute to the sustainability of administrative reforms to the benefit of the citizens.

This year, the Conference’s main topic is bringing the administration closer to the citizens based on the experiences from citizens’ consultations implemented at the local level across the region, using EU good practice in implementing European Citizen Consultations. We want to voice and address citizens’ concerns and impressions from their experiences with the administrations in the Region and try to provide recommendations for decision-makers to improve the services their institutions offer to the citizens. Moreover, the Conference promotes CSO-government dialogue at the regional, national, and local levels and supports constructive relationships between CSOs and public authorities.

#CitizensFirst2022

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CONFERENCE AGENDA
CONFERENCE SYNOPSIS

Speakers’ bios

DAY 1 – 8th November


• Milena Lazarevic, WeBER2.0 Team Leader and Programme Director, European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade

As the Programme Director, Milena is in charge of the overall programmatic strategy of CEP as well as developing and managing the quality assurance system and processes within the organisation. In terms of thematic focus, she is primarily responsible for the Good Governance and Our Europe programme areas. Milena is a proven expert in the fields of public administration reform, regional development and local economic development, with consultancy engagements including SIGMA/OECD, ReSPA and the World Bank. In 2014-2015, in addition to her work at CEP, she acted as the special adviser to the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of public administration reform. Prior to co-founding CEP, Milena served for six years in the Serbian civil service as an adviser for public administration reform and administrative capacities for EU accession in the EU Integration Office of the Serbian Government (SEIO) and in the Serbian Ministry of Public Administration. As a Soros scholar, she obtained her BA degree in European Studies and International Relations at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), after which she obtained an advanced MA degree in European studies at the College of Europe on a King Baudouin Foundation scholarship. She later also graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and obtained an MA in European Administrative Law at the Law Faculty of Belgrade University. She speaks English, French, Italian and Bulgarian fluently and has basic German knowledge.


• Admirim Aliti, Minister of Information Society and Administration, North Macedonia

Admirim Aliti is currently the Minister of Information Society and Administration of the Republic of North Macedonia. As a proven professional in his field, over the years, Admirim Aliti has built his professional career and education on numerous positions and experiences in the public and private sector in the field of information technologies and electronic communications. He demonstrated his managerial skills while successfully managing the Public Enterprise “National Broadcasting of North Macedonia” as General Manager in the period December 2018 – October 2020, which resulted in increased efficiency in its operation. During this period, Admirim Aliti, MSc, represented the company with internal and external parties working in the field of Broadcasting. Previously he has been in the private sector, once as founder and CEO of a software development company, and other times working in the IT field in prestigious companies such as KBR Inc. and Fluor Inc., both American companies. He has experience in Academia, working in Mother Teresa University and University of Tetovo, teaching subjects relating to Computer Science. He hold Masters degree from the department of Informatics from Linnaeus University in Sweden. He holds Bachelor degree in Computer Science from South East European University in North Macedonia. Currently he is a PHD candidate in Informatics.


• Maciej Popowski, Acting Director-General, Directorate-General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

Maciej Popowski is Acting Director-General in the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission. Ambassador Popowski is a Polish diplomat with 25 years of professional experience. He was director for EU affairs at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time of Poland’s accession negotiations. In 2001-2008 he was Deputy Head of the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the European Union. In 2003-2008 he was Poland’s first permanent representative in the EU’s Political and Security Committee. He then joined the European Commission as Director in DG Development focusing on policy coherence, aid effectiveness, financing, relations with other donors and public information. In 2009 he was seconded from the European Commission to become head of cabinet of Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament. From 2011 until 2015 he was Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service. Since 2016 Mr Popowski is Deputy Director-General in the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission.


• Gregor Virant, Head of SIGMA/OECD

Dr Gregor Virant has been the Head of the SIGMA Programme since September 2019. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the field of public governance, covering a combination of academic, executive, political and consultancy roles. From 2004 to 2008, Dr Virant was the Slovenian Minister for Public Administration where he launched and implemented major modernisation projects in the areas of administrative burden reduction, administrative services, e-government, HRM etc.  He was Speaker of the Parliament from 2011-2013 and Minister of the Interior from 2013-2014.   Dr. Virant has held many private sector roles as a consultant and senior expert providing advice and recommendations on a wide range of governance issues.


• Gaetane Ricard-Nihoul, Deputy Head of Unit, Citizens’ Dialogues, European Commission

Former Deputy and Acting Head of the European Commission Representation in France, Gaëtane Ricard-Nihoul has held various positions as a European official. She has been part of the Common Secretariat for the Conference on the Future of Europe, more particularly in charge of the European Citizens’ Panels. She is now working on the follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe as Deputy Head of Unit in DG Communication. She also worked for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as Deputy Secretary General for the Citizens Consultations on Europe and then Head of Department at the Mission Grand Débat. Earlier, she worked as Secretary General of the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris and for the Belgian Government, as advisor on European affairs.


• Maike Brakhan, Project Manager, Missions Publiques

Maike Brakhan is a dedicated Project manager for European and French-German participation projects from Missions Publiques, an agency which mission is to improve the dialogue between citizens, stakeholders and decision makers, for better collective choices and decision-making in the 21st century.  She holds a master’s degree in political science and European Affairs. With a professional background in parliamentary, ministerial affairs and diplomacy, her professional path expands over the French Senate and several ministries where she worked on European and international cooperation. She is passionate about citizen diplomacy and participation. She promotes transnational deliberation integrating citizens’ expertise to co-construct the diplomacy of tomorrow.


• Kalypso Nicolaidis, Professor, European University Institute

Kalypso Nicolaidis is Chair in Global Affairs at the School of Transnational Governance (EUI), where inter alia she convenes the EUI Democracy Forum. She is currently on leave from the University of Oxford and was professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and at Ecole Nationale d’Admistration, Paris. She has worked with numerous EU institutions, including as a member of the European Council’s reflection group on the future of Europe chaired by Felipe González (2008-10), and is a Council member of ECFR. She also served as advisor on European affairs to George Papandreou in the 90s and early 2000s, the Dutch and UK governments, the European Parliament, the European Commission, OECD and UNCTAD. Her research revolves around internal and external aspects of European integration as well as global affairs, theaters of recognition, democratic theory, transnational legal empathy and social solidarity, global governance and international trade, sustainable integration, post-colonialism, myth and politics and the import of new technologies on international relations.


• Milena Lazarevic, WeBER2.0 Team Leader and Programme Director, European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade

As the Programme Director, Milena is in charge of the overall programmatic strategy of CEP as well as developing and managing the quality assurance system and processes within the organisation. In terms of thematic focus, she is primarily responsible for the Good Governance and Our Europe programme areas. Milena is a proven expert in the fields of public administration reform, regional development and local economic development, with consultancy engagements including SIGMA/OECD, ReSPA and the World Bank. In 2014-2015, in addition to her work at CEP, she acted as the special adviser to the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of public administration reform. Prior to co-founding CEP, Milena served for six years in the Serbian civil service as an adviser for public administration reform and administrative capacities for EU accession in the EU Integration Office of the Serbian Government (SEIO) and in the Serbian Ministry of Public Administration. As a Soros scholar, she obtained her BA degree in European Studies and International Relations at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), after which she obtained an advanced MA degree in European studies at the College of Europe on a King Baudouin Foundation scholarship. She later also graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and obtained an MA in European Administrative Law at the Law Faculty of Belgrade University. She speaks English, French, Italian and Bulgarian fluently and has basic German knowledge.


Moderated by
Corina Stratulat, European Policy Centre – EPC

Corina Stratulat is a Senior Policy Analyst and the Head of the European Politics and Institutions Programme. Her work at the EPC focuses on EU institutional developments and enlargement towards the Balkans. She holds an MPhil in Contemporary European Studies from the University of Cambridge, UK and a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute, Italy. Her main research interests include comparative Central and East European politics, parties and party systems, elections, democracy, populism, EU institutions, the Balkans’ EU integration, and enlargement policy.

Main presenters:

• Milos Djindjic, Programme Manager and Senior Researcher, CEP

Miloš graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade, where he continued his Master studies in political institutions and institutionalist theory. He studied European Union institutions and procedures as well as project cycle management as participant in the Leadership Development Programme, jointly organised by the College of Europe and the European Fund for the Balkans, as well as in the FutureLab Europe programme of the civil society organisations gathered around European Alliance for Democratic Citizenship. He completed several internships in domestic and foreign organisations, including the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, Political Academy of the Austrian People’s Party and National Democratic Institute and worked as an associate on the project administered by the European Fund for the Balkans. He is alumni member of the Belgrade Open School, XVI generation of students at the Department of Advanced Undergraduate Studies. He joined the CEP team in March 2012 as project assistant, then continung at the position of researcher. Speaks English and German.


• Lirika Agusholli, Researcher, GLPS

Lirika is primarily focused in international relations, foreign  policy, diplomacy and conflict resolution. Lirika is a Master graduate in Conflict Resolution and Analysis at Sabanci University, Turkey. She completed her Bachelors in Political Science and International Relations at Istanbul University, Turkey. Before joining GLPS, Lirika worked as a Teaching Assistant in Sabanci University for two years. Additionally, she worked as a Research Assistant to the well-known Turkish Professor Betul Celik, focusing mostly in the topics of ex-combatants reintegration and to the peace building in post-conflict societies with a focus to Kosovo, at the Sabanci University. Her work was mostly focused in qualitative studies with extensive field works. Lirika was also part of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network where she worked as a research assistant. Prior to that, she was engaged as a project assistant at the Turkish International Women’s Network.


Discussants:

Dragan Ćuzulan, Coordinator for public administration reform

Since August 2015, Assoc. Ph.D. Dragan Ćuzulan has been the head of PARCO, where he performs the function of coordinator for public administration reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He obtained his doctorate at the Faculty of Philosophy in Banja Luka. He is an associate professor at the Faculty of Public Administration in Sarajevo. He was the first chairman of the Advisory Council for the implementation of the initiative Partnership for Open Government in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is currently a member of this body. He is the author of the books “Language and Metaphysics” and “Ethnic and Ontological” as well as the author of professional papers in scientific journals in the field of philosophy on the subject of postmodern philosophy, language, metaphysics, ontology and ethics. During his working career, he was the director of NIP Glas Herzegovina, the director of the Public Institution Dom mladih in Trebinje and a professor at the Jovan Dučić Gymnasium in Trebinje. He is married and the father of four children. He was born on August 31, 1959.


• Laura Ajdini, Adviser of the Minister for administration

Laura Ajdini is an Advisor to the Minister for administration in the Ministry of information society and administration, Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia. She was born on 17.01.1984 in Tetovo, where she has completed primary and secondary education. In the academic year 2001/2002, she enrolled at the South-East European University in Tetovo, R. Macedonia, where she graduated in 2006, gaining a title BA in Public Administration. She is currently attending Master Studies under the Faculty of Law International Relation and Diplomacy Under Faculty of Law. She is fluent in Albanian, Macedonian, English, Serbo-Croatian and proficient in Turkish and German.


• Ivan Lazarevic, Head of IPA and International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Public Administration

Moderated by
Ardita Abazi Imeri, European Policy Institute – EPI

Ardita Abazi Imeri is one of the EPIs founders and has worked in the institute since 2011. She holds a  PhD from the University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” – Institute for sociological, political and juridical research in the area of consumer protection and alignment with acquis communaitaire and holds a degree  Master of  Law in International, Comparative and European law from Maastricht University  (Maastricht, The Netherlands). At the Institute, Ardita is the programme coordinator, responsible for overall strategic planning and monitoring and evaluation of EPIs work. Other areas of focus in her work are rule of law, accession monitoring, conditionality policy, consumer protection and promotion of social cohesion policies.  Among successful projects under her leadership are projects related to the public administration reform (WeBER) as a regional grant manager and reforms in the area justice sector (Мрежа 23+, JuDGMeNT). Between 2008 and 2010, she worked in the Secretariat for European Affairs of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, specifically on issues related to the internal market and sectorial policies.

• Jesper Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst, SIGMA/OECD

Jesper Johnsøn leads SIGMA’s monitoring work, providing evidence-based diagnostics to national and international decision makers and civil society on the performance of public administrations in the EU Enlargement area across a large number of thematic areas. He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and specialises in evaluation methods and indicator development. Previously, he co-led the 2020 Western Balkans Government at a Glance. He specialises in public accountability mechanisms and anti-corruption.

SIGMA Policy Simulator

14.30 – 15.45 Breakout sessions – Digging deep: WeBER PAR Monitor Discussions in Six PAR Areas

Presenter
Alban Dafa, Institute for Democracy and Mediation – IDM

Alban Dafa joined the IDM team as a researcher on governance and security. He had previously served in the Albanian Naval Force as a patrol boat commander, navigator, and junior hydrographer. During his time in the Albanian navy, he was engaged in NATO standardization programs and in self-initiated efforts to expand the scope and capacities of the Albanian Hydrographic Service. Alban graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science (concentrating in International Relations). In 2015 he was able to pursue his postgraduate studies through the Chevening Scholarship program. He graduated in 2016 from the University of Exeter with a Master of Arts in Politics and International Relations of the Middle East. Alban’s research interests include social movements, organizational reform and culture, and Albanian foreign and security policy. He is a keen reader of the scholarship on International Relations theory, Great Power politics, and Middle East politics.


Discussants

Ljiljana Uzelac, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self Government 

Ljiljana Uzelac is the Head of the Public Administration and eGovernment Department of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self Government and national CAF correspondent of Serbia. She has the MSc from Postgraduate European Studies and BA from International Affairs Studies of the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade. She completed a large number of courses and trainings including the MPA of IEDC – Bled School of Management in Slovenia and web&graphic design of Future Business School of Athens. Her work is focused on PAR strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, OGP – Open Government Partnership, eGovernment and open data initiatives etc.


• Zorana Markovic, CRVNO


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Egle Rimkute, SIGMA/OECD

Egle Rimkute is a Senior Policy Advisor and Country Manager for Serbia at the OECD/SIGMA. She has over 20 years of experience, including in managerial positions, in implementing public management reforms in Lithuania, the Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries. Egle worked for over 15 years in the Prime Minister’s Office of Lithuania where she managed a team designing and implementing policy planning, policy co-ordination and budget planning reforms. She also worked as an EU project team leader in several countries before joining OECD/SIGMA strategic planning and PAR team.


Moderated by
Danijel Dasic,
NKD

Danijel Dašić was born in 1963, Niš. He is a graduated civil engineer, civil activist and advocate of decentralization. His career can be divided into three parts. The first was within the enterprise “South Morava” from Niš, where he worked as a project manager on numerous infrastructure activities in South East Serbia. In the second part of his career, Danijel moved his focus and activities on participation in international development projects, as a regional representative of the US Agency for International Development for South East Serbia. After that, he worked on international development projects, mostly abroad. As and Infrastructure Advisor at the US Embassy in Monrovia, he worked on the design and implementation of development projects in the Republic of Liberia in Africa. After international career, Danijel opened a new chapter and started supporting development of the civil society in his home town, through collaboration and work with local non-governmental sector. After few years of consulting and advising, in 2015. he started to work in the National Coalition for Decentralization (NCD) from Niš as a program advisor. Since 2022. Danijel is a director, in charge for further development and growth of NCD, continuing his work on decentralization, ordinary people, combining effective lobbing for policy reform changes with citizen activism and lasting community development.

 


Presenter
Ema Pula, Group for Legal and Political Studies – GLPS

Ema Pula studied Law at the University of Prishtina. Before she joined Group for Legal and Political Studies, she was engaged in a 1 year internship in USAID Kosovo, respectively in the program “Contract Law Enforcement”. In the meantime she was also engaged in volunteer activities which included increasing awareness of higher education for high school students coming from the minority groups and the other one about building bridges between youth and seniors coming from retirement home.

She has been working at GLPS since September 2018. Her work is focused primarily in project management and coordination where her main responsibilities include implementing and monitoring project activities. She is involved in the projects related to the legislative regulation of access to public documents, environmental policies through the importance of acquis standards and their adoption in Kosovo’s legislation, monitoring of public consultations. She is engaged in WeBER 2.0 as a project officer.


Discussants
Vedat Sagonjeva, Director of Strategic Planning Office

Vedat Sagonjeva, for the past five years is Director of the Strategic Planning Office within the Office of Prime Minister of the Government of Kosovo, with 15 years of experience in the public sector. His fields of interest are policy management – coordination, planning participation as well as monitoring and evaluation; and European integration process management and aid coordination. Vedat holds a University degree political science and public administration and MA in European Affairs. He has strong interest in strengthening the strategic planning system, in this regard he was involved in key processes for reforming system through establishing the National Strategic Management Framework. In this regard, recently he coordinated the drafting process of the National Development Strategy 2030, which has provided an inclusive stakeholder engagement.


Vladimir Pavlovic, Belgrade Open School

Vladimir M. Pavlovic is Senior Policy Advisor at Belgrade Open School. He is involved in designing and coordinating policy advocacy activities in scope of BOS operations. Vladimir is a passionate practitioner when it comes to community engagement and evidence informed policy development. His fields of interest are: good governance, policy development and EU law. He is the author of multiple manuals, and guidebooks dealing with the different aspects of the European integration process in Serbia. He was engaged as member of different inter-ministerial groups and working bodies that have been working on strategic framing of policy coordination and participatory decision making as important aspects of good governance reform in Serbia. He is a certified trainer for policy development and policy advocacy (LGI Budapest) and for negotiation and mediation (Carr, Swanson &Randolph LLC). He was a student of the IX generation of Belgrade Open School’s educational programme ‘’Future Studies’’. A proud father to Luka and Elena.


Samo Godec, EU4PAR project

Samo Godec, at present Team Leader of an EU funded project Support to Public Administration Reform under the PAR Sector Reform Contract in Serbia. Holding a University degree lawyer and a Master of Science in public administration, he is a Slovene free-lance consultant specialised in legal and organisational reform of public administration with 25 years’ experience in- and with public administration in both EU Member States and EU accession and ENI countries. With his experience as a civil servant in Slovenian public administration and his theoretical background, he is being involved in institutional and capacity building PAR and EU Integration projects in Serbia, BiH, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Moldova and other countries, supporting among others the reform of public administration, EU integration, civil service systems, administrative procedures and administrative justice. He has also been working in international organisations (CoE, Venice Commission) and for more than 15 years with SIGMA, OECD. He is fluent in English and Serbian language.


Moderated by
Misha Popovikj, Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis Skopje – IDSCS
Misha Popovikj is a research coordinator at the Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’ Skopje. He holds MA in Identity, Culture and Power at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University College London and BA in political studies from the University ‘Ss Cyril and Methodius’ from Skopje, Macedonia. He has researched and published on civic and political participation, political culture, public opinion and corruption.
Presenter

Milica Skoric, Junior Researcher, European Policy Centre – CEP

Milica has been working in the civil sector for nearly 7 years as a project assistant, external associate, team leader, activist, and junior researcher in the most recent WeBER PAR Monitoring. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the Faculty of Political Sciences (University of Belgrade), where she also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration, local self-government, and public policies. She is the author of several scientific papers and policy briefs.


Discussants

Vladimir Vlajkovic, independent expert in PAR and HRM

Vladimir Vlajković is an Associate of the European Policy Centre and a practitioner with experience in project management and human resource management, specialised in designing, introducing and implementing changes. He has been involved in the state administration reform in Serbia since its beginning. In the past fifteen years he has participated in numerous projects in the region as well as Central Asia, which aimed at state administration capacity building and improvement. In Serbia, he was engaged in capacity building for state administration reform management, the establishment of the salary system in the state administration as well as in numerous other projects focused on optimizing state administration. He implemented a large number of functional analysis at home and abroad. While working on various projects dealing with the development of institutional capacities in the framework of the state administration reform, Vladimir cooperated with a number of state administration bodies and, together with local and international consultants, designed and delivered numerous training sessions to support the project implementation. He participated in the development of a large number of analysis, papers, publications in the field of state administration reform in Serbian and English language.


Peter Vagi, SIGMA/OECD

Peter Vagi is a Senior Advisor of the OECD/SIGMA Programme. Before recently joining the SIGMA Public Service and Accountability team, Peter spent more than two decades as an expert on various PAR topics and themes in different settings. This also includes his contribution to the SIGMA assessments since 2014, as well as participating in a number of PAR-related projects as senior expert. Apart from working extensively in the Western Balkans on evidence-based policymaking, PAR strategies and different PAR-related topics, he also held several senior positions in the Hungarian administration in the Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement, the National Development Agency and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Keida Meta, DoPA


Moderated by
Milica Zindovic, CCE

Milica Zindović is a programme associate at the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), based in Podgorica, Montenegro, where she has been working on various questions of Europeanization and democratization of Montenegro and the EU negotiation process. Moreover, she is also coordinating projects in the area of public administration reform, and e-governance, as well as projects in the sphere of human rights, more specifically, gender equality and the role and position of women in political life of Montenegro. Milica is also a PR of the Fast Forward Human Rights Film Festival Montenegro, organized by the CCE on an annual basis. Milica has graduated in International Relations at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Montenegro (UoM). Moreover, she holds a master’s degree from the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, ​​on the topic of Construction and Linguistic Portrayal of the Climate Change Phenomenon in the Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties‘ political discourse. As an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees scholarship holder, she completed her degree in European Politics and Society, thus, developing herself academically at three universities – Charles University in Prague, Leiden University in the Netherlands and Pompeu Fabra University.

16.00 – 17.15 Breakout sessions – Digging deep: WeBER PAR Monitor Discussions in Six PAR Areas