BUDVA – President of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Denis Zvizdić, accompanied respectively by the Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković, the Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the Deputy Prime Ministers of the Republic of Albania Senid Mesi and Rasim Ljajić of the Republic of Serbia, participated in the Budva economic conference, “Challenges on the road to the EU”.
The conference was opened by the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro, Velimir Miljušković, and the President of the EBRD, Pierre Heilbronn, spoke as a guest.
In his speech to the panel on regional cooperation within the framework of the Berlin process and the further integration of the region into the European Union, Denis Zvizdic said that the common commitment of the Western Balkan countries is to join the European Union. He said that since the Berlin meeting in 2014, considerable progress had been made. He said that the majority of countries in the world have the most intense trade with their closest neighbors, and therefore expressed hope that trade cooperation will improve in the future. He added that the Western Balkan countries have significant space to improve their mutual cooperation in the interest of developing their economies.
Zvizdić spoke about the need to improve mutual traffic and communication connections, emphasizing that this segment is of utmost importance for the entire Western Balkans region. He also spoke about the exchange and mobility of workers and students. He indicated that, following European practice, it is necessary to enable regional mobility, attract foreign direct investments, strengthen the digital economy and reform the education system, so that it is harmonized in the best way. possible with the labor market.
In his speech, Zvizdic stressed that the region remains committed to the European Union and that it is necessary to further improve the issue of political stability and security in the territory of the Western Balkans and in the whole of the European Union. He called for intensification of cooperation in the field of European integration, expressing his belief that all participants in today’s meeting will benefit considerably from the mutual exchange of experiences.
Speaking at the round table on the theme “The region after the four years of the Berlin process”, organized within the framework of the conference “Challenges on the path to the European Union”, the Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Markovic said that the responsibility of the Western Balkan states in their journey towards the European Union should not and cannot lie with Brussels, but with the countries and leaders of the Western Balkan region.
“In the Western Balkans region, we have been confronted with a conflict between two fundamental values: the values of integration, communion and prosperity, and the values that the Balkans have dragged to the very beginning and periphery of the EU for years. We have managed to overcome this other system of values, which is still present in our political, security market and in all other markets. And it’s not easy for us. We can avoid this conflict if we take responsibility for the process in the region. Responsibility for this process must not and cannot fall to Brussels. The responsibility for this process lies with us, the countries and leaders of the Western Balkan states,” said the Prime Minister of Montenegro.
Marković emphasized that despite all the difficulties, a significant step forward had been made in recent years in the Western Balkans with regard to the orientation of the countries in the region towards the EU or towards the realization of European values.
Reminding that this is already the seventh meeting of the region’s prime ministers this year, Marković emphasized that this is precisely a new moment of commitment and communion that gives strength and more great prospects for success on the path to the EU.
“If we stick to this principle, Europe will not be so skeptical of us. If we come to Brussels not with problems, but with solutions, then our perspective is quite certain,” said Prime Minister Marković, believing that the platform of the Berlin process through regional economic integration has already produced results.
“We see that our economies are growing, our competitiveness is increasing and the region is improving its position… We are now determined to implement our commitments. We don’t need action plans for this, we can do it ourselves. Now the question of all questions is whether we will transfer all this into a new real value,” the Prime Minister noted.
The Western Balkans must move towards the EU and NATO membership, but this can only be done if they strengthen their cooperation, said Zoran ZaevMacedonian Prime Minister.
“In the end, everything depends on the economy, even our membership in the EU and NATO. Cooperation between countries is important, because only together, as a large market, can they become more attractive to the international business community,” Zaev said.
Together, we must send our countries the message that everything depends on us, he explained.
“By exchanging experiences, skilled labor, creating a favorable political climate for cooperation and eradicating corruption, we are sending a strong signal that this region could be an attractive investment destination,” stressed Zaev.
All countries in the region, he added, want membership in the EU and NATO, above all because of the standard of living of our citizens.