Balkans: Varhelyi, 'Open Balkan' accelerates path towards EU

EU commissioner at Ohrid summit - 'region has huge potential'

08 June, 18:15

    Open Balkans Summit in Ohrid, North Macedonia Open Balkans Summit in Ohrid, North Macedonia

    BELGRADE - European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said the initiative 'Open Balkan' can contribute to accelerate the path of the entire region towards full integration within the European Union. "I think that 'Open Balkan' is not only a good idea, that initiative is the possibility for change in the region and for challenges ahead to be overcome. This initiative can represent the possibility of accelerating the path towards the EU", said the commissioner, speaking at the summit 'Open Balkan' ongoing in Ohrid, in North Macedonia.

    Full integration starts from the economy and from society - observed Varhelyi, stressing how the project 'Open Balkan' started from the region and not from the EU or US. Regional collaboration, he continued, is fundamental to progress in the development of transportation, infrastructure and energy connections, and the western Balkans have huge potential in this regard.

    The initiative 'Open Balkan' was activated three years ago by Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia with the objective of creating a common market in the western Balkans, boosting regional cooperation and favoring the process of European integration of the entire region. With Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Albanian and Macedonian Premiers - Edi Rama and Dimitar Kovacevski - the meeting is attended as observers also by the heads of government of Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dritan Abazovic and Zoran Tegeltija.

    Kosovo's leadership is against any involvement in the project, which it sees as an attempt by Serbia to extend its hegemony over the Balkans.

    After initial contacts on Tuesday afternoon and a working dinner, the schedule on Wednesday included several agreements and memoranda in various sectors - from tax to education, from culture to tourism.

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