From 22nd – 25th September Knut Fleckenstein (Chairman of ASB Federal Board and Member of EP) and his colleague Tanja Fajon (MEP) visited Macedonia and Albania accompanied by Mr Elmir Bojadzic (ASB Regional Director for South East Europe) and Mr Michael Schnatz (Programme Manager International Samaritan Cooperation).
In both countries meetings were held with civil society actors and political decision makers to make a first step of cooperation in these countries. In his function as President of Samaritan International, the European network of Samaritan organisations, Mr Fleckensten visited in Skopje the youth organization ASYD (Association of students and youth with disabilities) to welcome them as associated member organization. After this a meeting with Ibrahim Ibrahimi, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy with a focus on Roma issues in Macedonia. Ms Fajon and Mr Fleckenstein were very interested in this topic and the minister was impressed by the long-lasting activities and projects implemented by ASB South-East Europe since many years.
In Tirana the delegation met Mr. Igli Totozani, Ombudsman of the Albnian Government, who is responsible for minorities and despotism by administrations and officials. During the meeting with the Minister Social Affairs and Youth, Mr Erion Valiej it became clear, that with the new Albanian government is open for a dialogue with Civil Society and is wanted to change the social system and the situation of minorities in Albania. The minister sees his task in the empowerment of NGOs and civil-society actors to improve the lack of volunteering, engagement for society and people in need.
He welcomed the delegation with the words: “Now is the real time, that you are here and we get in touch. My most important staff and myself are coming from the NGO and civil society sector and we are looking forward for a brisk exchange.”
This delegation visit was a first step into these countries to build up possible long-term partnerships in the Balkans. ASB SEE already is implementing projects with CSOs in Macedonia and Albania and with this visit the relationships were deepend. With the support of Ms Fajon, who is very famous in the Balkans because of her engagement for visa-free travelling for Balkan citizens, and Mr Fleckenstein it was possible to meet with decision makers on a top level and to create fruitful contacts. In all meetings the interest in the activities of ASB in Germany but as well in the Balkans was very high.
ASB is a German aid and welfare organisation, engaged in areas such as civil protection, rescue services and social welfare services. As a non-political organisation, ASB has, since its foundation in 1888, provided rapid and direct help to all those in need of our support.
ASB SEE Main Office Sarajevo, Aleja Bosne Srebrene 4, 71 000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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