The Atlantic Council said that it is hosting an online summit of political leaders from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia later this week to promote regional economic integration to help the Western Balkans recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Building on its efforts and extensive networks in Southeastern Europe, the Atlantic Council convenes this Western Balkans Partnership Summit to facilitate and promote concrete steps among the leaders toward regional economic integration that can stimulate post-COVID-19 economic recovery, boost the region’s long-term competitiveness, and strengthen its attractiveness for investors,” a press release said. “This agreement will demonstrate leaders’ commitment to foster economic growth by pursuing the free movement of goods, persons, and services across the region’s borders. The measure will also set in motion a significant plan for attracting foreign investment and accelerating the effective deployment of COVID-19 recovery funds,” it added.
It added that “the tangible measures agreed at the Summit—linked to and embedded in existing regional initiatives and dialogues—will send an important political message about the Western Balkans’ Euro-Atlantic future at a time of heightened uncertainty”. The bold, practical actions to advance regional economic cooperation that are expected to be agreed at the summit will help the region emerge from the devastating impact of COVID-19 with greater economic development opportunities, the press release said.
The Atlantic Council said that the expected economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Balkans demand urgent regional action to avoid sustained economic stagnation and the potential instability that comes with it.
The press release said that the speakers at the online summit include North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of Ministers Zoran Tegetlija and Montenegrin Economy Minister Dragica Sekulic.