The Western Balkans region comprises Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia. It is an key priority region of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy. In line with this, Austria works closely with the countries of the Western Balkans. Strategic European frameworks such as the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the European Green Deal and the EU Economic and Investment Plan form the basis for the cooperation.
As part of Austrian foreign policy, Austrian Development Cooperation supports the region in achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. In line with its principle of "Leave no one behind" the Austrian Development Cooperation includes vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, children, ethnic or religious minorities and the poorest people in all its programmes and projects. Fundamental values of Austria's foreign policy are democracy, gender equality, environmental protection, social cohesion and respect for human rights. Austrian Development Cooperation advocates for those values in the countries of the Western Balkans. It also supports its partner countries in their rapprochement with the EU and its values and standards.
Strategy with clear goals
The Regional Strategy of the Austrian Development Cooperation with the Western Balkans, adopted in 2023, aims to further deepen the cooperation with the region. It is in line with the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance of the European Union and focuses on the following key areas:
- Good governance and rule of law
- Sustainable and inclusive social and economic development
- Climate and environment
Within these key areas, Austrian Development Cooperation aims in particular to strengthen democratic participation and reforms of public institutions at regional, national and civil society level, promote inclusive, quality education, improve employment opportunities and advance social inclusion. It also supports the transition to sustainable, environmentally friendly, climate-neutral and climate resilient development in the countries of the Western Balkans.