DPM Vujica Lazović delivers speech at Meeting of Central and Eastern European Countries and China

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    Deputy Prime Minister Professor Vujica Lazović, PhD DPM Vujica Lazović delivers speech at Meeting of Central and Eastern European Countries and China Speaking at the Meeting of Central and Eastern European Countries and People’s Republic of China Riga, Latvia (5 November 2016)… –>

    Deputy Prime Minister Professor Vujica Lazović, PhD

    Speaking at the Meeting of Central and Eastern European Countries and People’s Republic of China

    Riga, Latvia (5 November 2016)

    “Dear Prime Minister Li,

    Dear colleagues,

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    I sincerely greet you all on behalf of the Government of Montenegro! I am very pleased that we met this year in one of the Baltic states, in Latvia, with which Montenegro makes steady progress in cooperation and which provides Montenegro a strong support on the path towards EU membership.

    Traditional by now annual summits of the Heads of government for cooperation between People’s Republic of China and the countries of CEE serve as the most important driving force and the most reliable support for cooperation, and become recognisable for its success.

    Thanks to these meetings in the framework of „16+1“ mechanism, more practical and concrete cooperation projects are launched. Montenegro, which marks this year a decade of establishing diplomatic relations with China, is oriented to the improvement of the future relations and raising Montenegro-China partnership to a higher level.

    Since the restoration of its statehood, Montenegro is primarily committed to economic development and dynamically strides towards the EU. We have created one of the most promising country in the Balkans from the economically least developed of the Yugoslav republics. Thus, we have achieved an excellent pace of growth in the last ten years at an average annual rate of 3,2 percent, and substantially managed to relativise the negative external impacts of the economic crisis. Ten years ago, we were at 30 percent of the EU average in the indicator GDP/capita by the quality of purchasing power, and today we are at between 41 and 42 percent.

    The reason for this success is certainly the realisation of the strategic priorities of the state policy directed towards Euro-Atlantic integration. Montenegro is practically a member of NATO, while the negotiations for the membership in the EU are carried out as planned. An accelerating economic growth and higher standard of living to the level of the developed European countries is expected to happen in the period ahead.

    The potential for accelerating economic growth is seen in the context of „16+1“ cooperation. We are particularly pleased with the fact that this year’s fifth meeting shows that practical cooperation between People’s Republic of China and the Central and eastern European countries is at a new historical starting point. Ideas, projects and plans that have so far been only on paper are slowly starting to become a part of reality.

    A good example of this is Montenegro, in which is implemented one of the largest investment projects in the framework of „16+1“ mechanism. The construction of the first motorway in Montenegro, and the first Chinese company to build. The road will connect the Adriatic coast, through Belgrade and Budapest, with the Central and Western Europe.

    This large investment additionally contributes to strengthening the traditional China-Montenegro friendship. The project represents the most concrete confirmation of this and a great opportunity for further improvement of cooperation for mutual benefit. In this regard we would like to announce our willingness to deepen cooperation through the resumption of the motorway construction and the realisation of the next section Mateševo-Andrijevica, based on the public-private partnership or other financial form that would fit everyone.

    The construction of the motorway is not the end of the traffic connection with the region. Montenegro is on the direct line of the economic and maritime Silk Road. Therefore we see a great opportunity and possibility for the economic cooperation in the „One belt, one road“ Project. What is particularly significant for us is that the road leads to the Adriatic sea and ports on the Adriatic, which we certainly see as the possibility for the development of the Montenegrin port of Bar and the industrial park within it. Consequently, we give great importance to the Declaration of the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Black Sea, which we support and which we believe to provide an additional incentive for the promotion of cooperation.

    Especially, I want to point out the importance that we see through the reconstruction and modernisation of the railway Bar-Belgrade, thus connecting with the European railway network. We see the realisation of this project through the extension of an agreed project of reconstruction and modernisation of the Bar-Belgrade railway, which is expected to be officially launched in the middle of next year. Project continuation to the port of Bar would have great commercial and national importance for all three countries and would be an additional incentive for the Central and Eastern Europe countries, which would affect the growth of tourism, increasing the transport of goods and services, and the overall economic and investment cooperation.

    By investing efforts in improving infrastructure and by simplifying procedures that will encourage the arrival of tourists from China, Montenegro expects a significant influx of Chinese tourists in the near future. Some of the Chinese companies are considering now the opportunities of investment in hotels and other tourist facilities in Montenegro. With good reason, because Montenegro is one of the fastest growing tourist economies in the world, and there is a growing number of Chinese tourists. Montenegro was visited by 13.362 tourists from China in 2015, which is by 68,4% more than in 2014, and they made 18.170 overnight stays, which is by 25,9% more than in 2014.

    Bearing in mind that China’s outbound tourism market continues to grow with 120 millions of Chinese who traveled abroad in 2015, in the framework of regional tour we see a great chance in the interest of Chinese tourists to the so-called „red tourism“, respectively to visit cultural and historical monuments and features of the socialist period.

    In addition to the above-mentioned cooperation, we recognise the great potential in the investments in agriculture. We also notice the cultivation and production of medicinal plants as an important project in this area. There are over 400 species of medicinal plants in Montenegro, which quality is outstanding. There is also an abundance of land suitable for the cultivation of medicinal herbs plantation. We hope that the Chinese companies will recognise possibility of investment in this field.

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    As can be inferred, there are several areas where we can cooperate. CEE region has a strong potential for economic growth and such potential should be used. Additionally, history, geography and culture link the Central and Eastern European countries and the People’s Republic of China, and oblige us to a joint endeavor to build a better future for our country.

    I am convinced that in the framework of this cooperation we additionally strengthened mutual trust and that our successful cooperation will continue in the years ahead.

    Finally, I point out that the proposed Riga guidelines, as well as the Declaration of three sees and the new Baltic integration Initiative represent more than a good basis for the implementation of priority projects in the region, and are powerful engine for our future economic development.

    I conclude with this, stating that we can expect the years of hard work and efforts on the road to achieving greater economic growth, but I believe that the regional cooperation and initiatives like this can be of great benefit on that road.

    Thank you for attention!”

    Source: Government of Montenegro