Serbian Visions – where civil society meets business sector

German – Serbian Chamber of Commerce (Deutsch-Serbischen Wirtschaftskammer, in cooperation with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce ( organised the second multi congress Serbian Visions on 26 and 27 November 2016 at the hotel Radisson Blu Old Mill in Belgrade. The aim of organizing the only multi was strengthening the role of civilian movements within the country as well as creating more favourable economic environment by emphasizing important country-development activities.

The event encompassed 60 two hour long sessions on a number of topics: human rights issues, economics,
education, culture, health care, environmental protection, the EU integrations, security, innovations and
other programs which represent a vision of better future for Serbia. Session hosts were NGOs, institutes,
associations, universities and faculties, groups of professionals and companies, using different types of
presentations: discussions, forums, presentations, workshops, seminars, movies, etc.

Drug Policy Network South East Europe hosted the session on “Sustainability of support services to drug
users”. DPNSEE Board members Denis Dedajić and Saša Mijović, together with the Executive Director
Milutin Milošević, presented the situation in Serbia and the region and also some ideas for action that can
help make the difference and ensure regular and comprehensive services.

Although not many people participated in the session due to extremely unpopular term (Sunday at 16:00),
the discussion was very interesting and fruitful.

European information network on drugs and drug addiction

Reitox – the European information network on drugs and drug addiction – was set up by the European
Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in 1993 and is composed of 30 national
monitoring centres or national focal points (NFPs) in the 28 EU Member States, Turkey and Norway, as well as a focal point at the European Commission. The NFPs, from which the agency draws the bulk of its data, collect and analyse national information on drugs, drawing on various sectors including health, justice and law enforcement.

Representatives of candidate, potential candidate and neighbouring countries of the EU joined members of
the EMCDDA’s Reitox network in Lisbon on Tuesday 22 November 2016 for the kick-off of the agency’s fifth Reitox week. The purpose of this annual event was to broaden the scope of regular Reitox meetings,
underline the importance of the EU drug monitoring model and add impetus to the agency’s technical
cooperation with countries outside the EU.

The 2016 Reitox week (21–25 November) united 38 nations including the current 30 members of the
network and a number of beneficiary countries of the European Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance
(IPA) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The Reitox week encompasses three events: international cooperation project-related meetings; a Reitox
‘extended network’ meeting (this year focusing on ‘Drugs and recreational settings’) and the regular Heads
of focal point meeting. During the extended meeting, experts and researchers from 10 countries (Belgium,
Denmark, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Serbia) shared available data on substance use in open-air music festivals and other recreational and nightlife settings. In particular, they looked at the experiences and challenges faced by festival organisers and at existing interventions targeting the consequences of substance use in this context. A special focus was placed on prevention strategies and on the evaluation of their effectiveness.

Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA Director, said: “With this meeting, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the dimension of problems associated with substance use in specific recreational settings, such as open-air
music festivals and nightlife venues. Our discussions this week will help us shed light on the potential, yet
often underused, role of local regulators, party organisers and parents organisations in reducing
substance-use-related problems in these settings. They will also help EU and partner countries identify
possible steps towards implementing evidence-based interventions to tackle this issue”.

Irena Molnar, representative of Drug Policy Network South East Europe delivered the speech “The culture
of substance use: New Psychoactive Substances in Serbia and SEE region”, focusing on setting in which
psychoactive substances are use in recreational setting. She emphasised that the National and regional
wide researches and advocacy for nightlife outreach harm reduction programs and recreational setting in
general should be conducted, so we can be aware of the situation specifics we are dealing with in all of the
countries in the SEE region. Countries of SEE that are in period of accession to EU (and those already
involved) should look and learn from the examples of a good practices that exist around the Europe and
start supporting implementation of harm reduction programs for partygoers. Sharing information on safety, offering young people and partygoers information on health risks so that they can make an informed decisions regarding their drug and alcohol use should be essential.

What works in budget advocacy?

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) organised an interesting workshop on “What works: Budget advocacy for national investments in harm reduction” from 23 – 25 October 2016, in Budapest, Hungary.
The workshop was organized within the EC funded project “Harm reduction works! Improving funding for
harm reduction and HIV prevention in the EU” with co-funding from the Open Society Foundations.

The goal of the workshop was to provide a learning and planning space for national advocacy teams with
representatives of harm reduction NGOs from Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Bosnia, Macedonia,
Montenegro and Serbia for greater domestic investments in harm reduction in their countries.

Objectives of the workshop were:
●To build knowledge on how to influence budgets at national and municipal levels;
●To re-assess the funding situation and the vision of the future budget needs and sources;
●To advance skills on planning advocacy tactics, adapting evidence-based arguments and work with
politicians and media;
●To explore possibilities for advocacy cooperation with other health, human rights and transparency
movements in the country and other related processes;
●To develop advocacy plans with milestones for 2 years and detailed planning for the next 8 months;
●To assess the needs for continuous capacity building and support from political and technical
partners and communication after the meeting.

Harm reduction services and HIV-related community systems strengthening is underfunded from national
budgets in a number of EU member states in Central Europe and their South-East European neighbours that are EU candidate or potential candidate countries. Besides, as a rule, EU member states are not eligible for donor support or development assistance other than provided by the EU itself. South Eastern Europe is being rapidly left by its main remaining donor of harm reduction and other HIV interventions among key populations, the Global Fund, without adequate commitment from local authorities.

In order to strategically influence national and local authorities to secure funding for unmet needs of key
populations, NGOs need to conduct so called budget advocacy, so as to better understand how to influence
budget processes and policies, and increase accountability mechanisms.

9 Drug Policy Network South East Europe member organisations from member 5 countries participated in
the workshop, along with the Executive director of the Network. It was an excellent opportunity to get to
know more about on-going projects and plans for the future, present the Network and get contacts for
possible partnerships.

Foundation of Drug Policy Network in South East Europe (DPNSEE)

Thirteen non-governmental organizations of the SEE region founded the Umbrella Organization “Drug Policy Network in South East Europe”. The organization acquired legal status by registering in the register of the competent authority (Business Registers Agency) in Belgrade. The organization is called in English “Drug Policy Network South East Europe” with the abbreviation DPNSEE. The registration of the network as a legal entity was one of the main objectives of the project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South East Europe”. Founding members of the DPNSEE are 13 organizations from SEE countries: Aktion Plus (Albania), Margina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Viktorija (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Healthy Options Skopje (HOPS), (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Diogenis ( Greece), Positive Voice (Greece), Center for Life (Greece), NGO 4life (Montenegro), Juventas (Montenegro), RHRN (Romania), ALIAT (Romania), Prevent (Serbia) and SEEA.NET (Slovenia).

Στιγμιότυπο 2016-05-16, 12.23.32 μ.μ.

The DPNSEE will be responsible for coordinating the Network. The Board of the organization consists of 7 members elected by the general meeting of the members which is the Network’s highest decision-making body. The founding General Assembly elected the first Board and approved the action plan for 2016.


Priorities for 2016 are:

1.     Strengthening the organizational structure and governance of the Network

2.     The organization of the office and staff recruitment

3.     The tightening of links with the state authorities, institutions and agencies responsible for implementing the drug policy in SE Europe countries and

4.     The implementation of initiatives and actions in specific priority areas,  such as:

a)     Harm reduction and treatment programs

b)     Drug law reform in collaboration with the scientific community

c)     Developments in drug policy in the EU and internationally and the involvement of NGOs in decision making

d)     Capacity building through training opportunities for members of the Network

e)     Networking through the media, communication with the press and the DPNSEE website