Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Summit 100: Economic networking and stability – key for Western Balkans development

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Economic and infrastructure networking but also political and security integration and stability of the Western Balkans will enhance cooperation and develop the region. Large infrastructure projects are required towards ensuring faster flow of people people and commodities, as well as companies’ adaptation to digitization challenges, heard the opening of the 6. Summit 100 of Business Leaders of Southeast Europe, which opened in Skopje on Monday.

European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc stressed the region’s EU integration is of key significance.

“I would have been very cautious a year-and-a-half ago, but positive winds blow in EU sails today. I hope this will give you strength to continue with the reforms, using the winds with clean energy not walls”, said Bulc.

She stressed the EU has recovered from the crisis and all states have posted a positive GDP, while unemployment has dropped continually.

“I hope you will use this to your benefit”, said Bulc and added that the Western Balkans’ future EU membership is now much more realistic compared to a decade ago.

She said the recently signed agreement on the transport community, trade and cooperation came as a result of the region’s stability and predictability. highlighting that the area should learn from EU’s mistakes.

“Digitization is the generator of change and the Western Balkans can benefit from it in the transport field, reducing the administration numbers by 60 percent”, stressed Bulc and recommended that all Western Balkan states urgently introduce e-tolls.

President Gjorge Ivanov said in his opening remarks that the summit should be a strong voice that attracts and keeps the attention of politicians in the region regarding the priorities for its development.

According to him, political and security networking is required, accompanied by EU and NATO accession, in order to overcome challenges of regional economies – small markets, brain drain etc.

“Success requires networking, digitization and transformation. Adapt to the needs to the new generations and the digital era, because your success will largely determine the success of our region”, said Ivanov.

Summit 100 board chairman and Alkaloid CEO Zivko Mukaetov emphasized that transport and networking are the vital elements for regional cooperation.

He said companies should join forces for easier access to new markets.

“Intensive regional cooperation and building synergies among companies will raise the economies’ competitiveness, securing access to new markets, while being more attractive to foreign investors as a single market”, stressed Mukaetov.

He announced that regional cooperation within Summit 100 would be confirmed through the signing of a memorandum of understanding and cooperation, aimed at stimulating business cooperation and enhancing competitiveness of regional and national economies.

Summit 100 brings together over 150 business leaders from Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo.