Vienna, Austria (27 August 2015) – The Berlin process has given new impetus to European policy for the Western Balkans and opened a new hope for the region, Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Đukanović emphasised earlier today at the Vienna’s Western Balkans Summit. He said that the Balkans and its human and natural resources can be a new vitality and power of Europe, provided that the region creates more favourable conditions for attracting investments and the EU helps enhance the recovery process, he pointed out.
Prime Minister Đukanovic said that economy is a key to development, democratisation of our societies, building efficient institutions and the rule of law, the key to regional stability and common European future.
He explained that after the anaemic growth of 0.3% in 2014 and the growth projections of 1.6% in 2015, the average growth over the next few years is projected at 2.3%.
“If we kept this growth trend in the Western Balkans, assuming that GDP per capita in the EU in coming decades will grow at a rate of 1%, our region would reach the EU level of income in 2102. Therefore, it is crucial to accelerate growth of our economies and their long-term sustainability,” PM Đukanović noted.
In that regard, he in particular referred to Montenegro.
“Since the beginning of the transition, in 2000, GDP per capita has doubled and amounted to 30% of the EU average. Now, it is almost at the level of 40%. And that is the highest level in the region. We have to bear in mind that Montenegro was one of the least developed ex-Yugoslav republics. Unemployment is high – 18%, but it is the lowest in the region. The expected average growth for the period 2015 – 2017 is over 3% – significantly higher than regional average, “he stressed.
If we kept this growth trend, PM Đukanović explained, and if EU economy grew at a rate of 1%, Montenegro would reach the EU level of income in 2060.
“Integration remains the best framework. However, we need to define concrete effective policies for boosting prosperity and integration in the region. We need to strengthen macroeconomic stability and continue pursuing structural reforms. This implies reforming inefficient state and public administration; the fight against corruption and crime; quality public services, reform and privatisation of inefficient public companies, but above all, it is about the reform of labour market, social system, education and health. These policies are certainly necessary, but they are insufficient conditions for achieving progress,” he said.
According to PM Đukanović, favourable conditions for attracting investments need to be created in the region. On the other hand, the EU has to provide assistance by implementing a strategic programme of major investment in “hard” and “soft” infrastructure and the programmes that lead to increased employment, particularly of young people.
Source: Government of Montenegro