Balkan Leaders in Berlin Pledge to Work Together


News
28 Aug 14

Balkan Leaders in Berlin Pledge to Work Together

Balkan economy and finance ministers meeting in Berlin have agreed that their countries must jointly resolve economic issues that trouble the region.

Florian Franze
BIRN

Berlin

Vladimir Pesevski, Macedonia’s deputy prime minister for economic affairs , said countries in the region must start working together and rely on their own strength to resolve outstanding economic issues, increase employment and trade and improve the overall business climate.

“We should stop relying on EU advisers for everything and start shifting to local level. We should rely on regional cooperation and on ourselves,” Pesevski told a meeting of Balkan leaders in Berlin hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Dusan Vujovic, Serbian finance and economy minister, agreed that the countries of the region should start working together on major infrastructural projects, such as highways and railways.

“We need to finish the connections that we start building 60 years ago,” Vujovic said.

Goran Svilanovic, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, RCC, said the only way for Balkan countries to raise funding to major infrastructure projects was to work closely together.

“Balkan countries cannot finance larger projects on their own and the only way for them to get funding is to work on them together,” Svilanovic said, adding that regional cooperation was needed to boost trade and employment generally.

“The countries in the region must enable the fast flow of goods and services,” Svilanovic added.

Regional ministers pointed to the need for fresh outside investment, and for German investors to come to the region.

“We need a game changer… and the game changer is foreign investment,” Arben Ahmetaj, Albania’s Economy Minister, said, adding that Balkan countries cannot develop by running up new debts and taking out new loans.

The Balkan leaders were in Berlin for a conference on the economic prospects and European perspectives of the Western Balkan under German patronage.

The conference brought to the same table top-ranking politicians from Germany, the EU and the Balkans.

The summit has consisted of three parts. While regional economy ministers met Sigmar Gabriel, German Economy Minister, and Günther Oettinger, the European Commission Vice President, foreign ministers met Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, together with Stefan Fule, the European Enlargement Commissioner.

Merkel and José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, held a meeting with the heads of state of Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia on structural reforms, rule of law and the fight against corruption.

The idea is for the Balkan conference is to become regular annual event, with next one due to be held in 2015 in Austria.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)