By Adnan Prekic – Podgorica
There is a lot of work to be done for the Western Balkan’s countries, although never before in its history, the Balkans have been a better and more stable place for living and doing business, said Montenegro’s Prime Minister Djukanović at the opening of the conference entitled “Economy – Linking Basis for Western Balkans”.
“Economic growth is unstable, although it was at the average level of 2.2% last year. Social and overall situation is burdened with high unemployment rates of above 20% on average”, PM Djukanović said. He added that economic growth cannot be provided be without addressing the bottlenecks of the regions infrastructure.
The fresh initiative on the Western Balkan that was launched by Germany and the European Union boosts hope that the objectives of the Conference on the Western Balkans, which took place late September in Berlin, will be achieved, noted Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. It also created the prerequisites for the region to be presented as an attractive investment environment as well for the start of closer cooperation, through joint cross-border projects, in promoting regional economic development.
It is estimated, in his words, that the region’s economy will increase by 1.9% this year and by 2.6 % in 2015. “However, we must not lose sight of the fact that since the beginning 2014, the economy of the region has been faced with a strong deflationary pressure. In addition, large floods in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and partly in Croatia, have had an extremely negative impact on the economy of the region”, the Prime Minister underscored.
He added that the economic growth cannot be provided without addressing the bottlenecks in the infrastructure of the region.
“The countries in the region are not able to resolve all deficit problems on their own, such as the issues of low budgets and high indebtedness. The model of public-private partnerships in financing infrastructure has almost faded out”. Djukanović took the view that the abundant investment framework for the Western Balkans should be created right now. It should be aimed at linking the region in terms of infrastructure and key European corridors.
“It is crucial to design, with the support of the EU, a strategic programme of major investments in regional infrastructure in the fields of transport, energy, information technology, knowledge, which would result in the creation of new jobs. Such a common strategy would allow not only the construction of major road, rail and power corridors of regional and wider significance, but also a steady way towards faster development of the region and its essential Europeanisation. Our region will become more competitive, productive and attractive for investors, if our states, each one in its own ‘house’, implement decisive and radical structural reforms”, Montenegro’s Prime Minister concluded.