Vienna Economic Forum gathers Balkan PMs in Tirana

Prime Ministers of the Balkan region gathered in Tirana to attend Vienna Economic Forum that kicked off on last Thursday morning at the premises of the Palace of Congresses.
Albanian Premier Edi Rama greeted all the participants in the forum and especially his counterparts Aleksandar Vucic, Isa Mustafa, Nikola Gruevski, Milo Djukanovic and Denis Zvizdic during the official ceremony that was held on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Rama said during the opening of the forum that it is a unique opportunity for the countries of the Balkans for joining their efforts in the path toward European integration as their common objective. He highlighted that regional project with help to bring people closer to each other and Vienna Economic Forum is a chance for moving onward joint commitments.

“We are determined in our approach for the creation of a common market and for the coordination of projects with the countries of the Western Balkan. We have joint projects on infrastructural connectivity and other sectors,” Premier Rama said.

On his part, his Serbian counterpart Vucic said that there is a market of 20 million people and the countries of the Balkan have to do the utmost efforts for creating it. Vucic said that if Brussels doesn’t provide support for these projects, Serbia is ready to finance them. The Serbian Premier stressed that the region and people should be connected through markets and economy.

Some of the most important project related to infrastructure include the construction of a modern railway that will connect Tirana with Shkodra and Montenegro, the conclusion of Albania-Kosovo-Serbia highway and the Trans-Balkan Highway that will connect the region with Austria and Germany.

Vienna Economic Forum held in the framework of the Berlin Summit and with the countries of the region will make about concrete projects.

The leaders avoided traditional disputes and highlighted regional collaboration as an important tool leading to faster EU integration.
Although the meeting emphasized good relations, disputes bubbled away not far from the surface.
Rama attacked Macedonia's "dysfunctional" democracy, for example, while deploring the actions of armed militants in the neighbouring country.

“For Albania... is unacceptable to have the territorial integrity of Macedonia attacked and it is also unacceptable to have dysfunctional democracy there,” Rama said.

Nikola Gruevski of FYRMacedonia meanwhile urged regional leaders to be more careful about what they said.

“Leaders of Southeastern Europe should be prudent and should show responsibility in the statements that they make because citizens follow such statements... which can create situations that are difficult to resolve,” he said.

The Albanian government also sparred with Greece regarding an unresolved problem over the maritime border.

Earlier this month, Albania sought clarification of a Greek plan to lease an area in the disputed seabed between the two countries for oil exploration.

The seabed between Greece and Albania was delimitated four years ago but the Constitutional Court of Albania then nullified the agreement, saying the agreement was predudicial to Albania and as such, unconstitutional. Since then, Greece has said it still wants to implement the agreement while Albania does not acknowledge its existence.

Rama said the request for clarification was “routine diplomatic practice” to which Greek Foreign Ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Koutras answered: “The political leadership of our friendly neighbouring country is lapsing in word and deed, every day. A return to the logic of, and to respect for, legality and international law is the surest path for Albania’s European perspective”.

Albania reportedly angered Greece when Rama included in his coalition in parliament the Justice, Integration and Unity Party, which represents ethnic Albanians of the Cham community, expelled from northern Greece at the end of the Second World War.

Shpetim Idrizi, the head of the party, was elected as deputy speaker of parliament last week. Protesting over the move, Vangjel Dule, leader of a small party that represents the Greek minority in Albania, resigned as deputy speaker.Economic summit in Tirana, cooperation within countries gathers Prime Ministers
Vucic: Region's countries expect greater EU assistance

The countries of the region expect better and greater assistance from the European Union, and if that is not possible, Europe must say so, so that the region can try to cope on its own, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in Tirana on Thursday.

We need money from European funds, we have had enough of seminars, we need money to build roads and railways - if you cannot earmark funds, then say so and we will find the funds, Vucic said in a discussion at the Tirana Talks 2015 conference, organised by the Vienna Economic Forum.

The Tirana conference is a cry from all participants and a call to the EU and the European Commission to analyse the situation, assess it well and evaluate it in the right way, and help us better, as well as more, the Serbian prime minister said.

Asked by forum moderator and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer what the prime ministers from the region expect from the summit on the Western Balkans, to be held in Vienna in late August, Vucic said that citizens need
something tangible, some concrete results.

We will go to Vienna in two months' time and hopefully we will have something to offer and show to (German) Chancellor (Angela) Merkel and ourselves but, most of all, to our citizens, and say: all right, we have made joint projects for building roads and railways, the prime minister said.

On the second day of his official visit to Albania, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic attended the forum enItemNamed 'Vienna Economic Forum - Talks in Tirana 2015' and underscored that forum participants agreed on the key goal embodied in the European path and full EU membership.

The forum covers the return of geopolitical certainty to the Western Balkans, states the release issued by the Serbian prime minister's cabinet.

Vucic underscored that either because of waiting fatigue or another reason, a drop of support has become visible in Serbia concerning the idea of European integration.

Nevertheless, the countries in the region need to work together on the projects which they would present to the EU, and financial support needs to be requested for these projects, Vucic underscored.

He noted that he suggested in the talks with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Djukanovic that they should sign consent for drafting of several joint projects which would be presented to the EU.
Vucic also pointed to Serbia's readiness for the realisation of all processes of integration in the region.


Nikola Gruevski : All countries in region strive towards EU membership

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said in Tirana on Thursday that all countries in the region share a common goal of joining the EU, adding that European integration is a mechanism that speeds up the reform process.

Postponing this process is not the solution, but it rather creates instability, said Gruevski, stressing that the delay in Macedonia's accession negotiations caused harm to the country and the entire region.

If it had not been for the delay, I think that Macedonia would now have been not only a NATO member, but it would also have completed the EU accession talks and many things would have happened in a different way, Gruevski said at the meeting of prime ministers of Albania, BiH, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo.

Gruevski urged the European officials to be careful about the messages they send, as any negative message could have a negative effect on the citizens.

“The EU must show more commitment to this region. More can be done and more energy can be invested to help the region resolve certain issues, and make progress towards joining the Union,” said Gruevski, stressing that both the region and the EU would benefit from this

It is crucial for Macedonia to start the accession negotiations as soon as possible, said Gruevski, and suggested that the resolution of Slovenia-Croatia dispute could serve as an example for the resolution of Skopje's dispute with Athens.


Denis Zvizdic : Regional countries ready to cooperate in all fields

Denis Zvizdic, chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) Council of Ministers, said in Tirana on Thursday that the regional countries stand ready to cooperate in all fields, particularly in economy, with a view to creating a joint market.
BiH has changed its priorities, which means that non-constructive priorities are no longer on the table of the country's Presidency, government or other authorities, Zvizdic said at the meeting of the prime ministers of Albania, BiH, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo-Metohija organized by the Vienna Economic Forum.

The current priorities of BiH are a more dynamic and speedier development, faster fulfillment of tasks on the way to the European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Zvizdic said.
He expressed belief that BiH will be able to submit the EU membership application, adding that the country's is to get the candiDateAdded status by the end of the government's term of office.

The second priority are economic reforms, and the third are the rule of law and good neighboring relations, he said.

If we connect, our ties will make it possible to search for investors together, Zvizdic said.



Milo Djukanovic : Western Balkans will continue with integration

Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said in Tirana on Thursday that there was no doubt the entire Western Balkans would continue integrating into the EU and NATO.

"It is important for all our countries, but also for Europe, its prestige in the future and the stability of the Euro-Atlantic region. This is my response to the dilemmas that can still be easily seen in political dialogue in Europe and are related to enlargement fatigue," he said at a meeting organised by the Vienna Economic Forum, which he attended alongside the prime ministers of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo.

"That dilemma must not be an issue at present," Djukanovic stated, stressing that there could be no stability nor optimal use of potential without a complete unification of Europe, where the next step was the full integration of the Western Balkans.

Djukanovic pointed out that he viewed stability as the key issue in the region, and stressed that the recent incident in Macedonia had shown that it should be given more attention.

Nikos Arvanites