"Joined forces to accelerated development and faster membership in the EU"

The MEP said that the General Director for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Gert Jan Kopman, as well as the Ministers of European Affairs and Finance of the countries of the region participated in the meeting.

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From the meeting, Photo: MEP
From the meeting, Photo: MEP
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The growth plan for the Western Balkans offers the possibility for accelerated economic development of the countries of the region and reaching the standards and quality of life enjoyed by the countries and citizens of the European Union (EU), it was announced at the ministerial meeting on the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans held in Kotor.

As announced by the Montenegrin Ministry of European Affairs (MEP), it was assessed at the meeting that this mechanism, together with other EU instruments, will help intensify reform processes and speed up accession to the Union.

"With united forces and with the support of the European Commission (EC), the states of the region will continue to work towards the fulfillment of the set goals that lead to the transformation of societies and their readiness for EU membership," it was said from the meeting in Kotor.

The MEP said that the general director for neighborhood and enlargement negotiations Gert Jan Kopman, as well as the ministers of European affairs and finance of the countries of the region, participated in the meeting.

Opening the meeting, the Minister of European Affairs, Maida Gorčević, said that the Growth Plan is no longer just a well-thought-out initiative, but has formally and legally fully come to life, which was welcomed throughout the region.

"We are aware that, if we want to benefit from that instrument, we must show a clear commitment to implementing key reforms, along with the EU's readiness to help us in key areas and increase project financing, which will be the best incentive to accelerate growth," Gorčević said.

She stated that she is convinced that, if applied with the same ambitious spirit, these reform agendas will transform the societies of the Western Balkans in a true European manner, while simultaneously creating the conditions for increased growth.

Gorčević pointed out that they are the focus of the People's Growth Plan and that all reforms are aimed at improving the quality of life of citizens, in a long-term and sustainable way.

She emphasized the importance of continued EU assistance in the development of infrastructure, which, she said, should be continued and expanded within the framework of the Fund for Reforms and Growth of the Western Balkans.

"Montenegro intends to speed up the development of key infrastructure in the field of transport and energy in the short and medium term, which will have a positive effect on the growth rate," said Gorčević.

As she said, the Government made a decision on the priority list of infrastructure projects that could be financed within the Growth Plan.

Gorčević said that the first priority refers to 44 infrastructure projects in the field of education at all levels.

"I am sure that this decision will contribute to the improvement of conditions in the education system, since this is the best possible investment in the future of young people," said Gorčević.

"During the meeting, the Ministers of European Affairs and Finance of the Western Balkan countries exchanged opinions on joint actions, coordinated policies and initiatives aimed at ensuring success in the implementation of the Growth Plan and the entire EU accession process," the statement said.

It is stated that, in this context, they discussed access to the single euro payment area (SEPA), the improvement of trade and transport facilities between the Western Balkan countries and the EU member states, the Center for Digital Innovation, the Digital Identity Wallet Application and the Alliance for Critical Medicines - improving the supply of critical medicines.

The Minister for European Integration of Serbia, Tanja Miščević, said that they are very grateful to the EU for recognizing the importance of the Growth Plan, as well as the amount of allocated money, and pointed out that money is less important compared to the fact that European integration will be accelerated.

"We went deeply into the exchange of opinions on how to initiate this socio-economic development, and I did not believe that we would reach such a high level of understanding. The Western Balkans is going in the right direction," said Miščević. The state minister and chief negotiator of Albania, Majlinda Dhuka, congratulated the countries of the Western Balkans on the rapid adoption of regulations, which, as she pointed out, is an indication of a new flywheel.

"It is important that we start pointing out the benefits of this process to the citizens and the economy, in order to increase support for European integration. We want words on paper to be translated into action. That's why we need to have synergy at the national, regional and EU level," said Dhuka.

North Macedonia's Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Bojan Maričić, pointed out that there is a high level of enthusiasm and commitment to reforms and that they did not believe that they could do so much in such a short period of time.

"The growth plan will not be just another nice idea, but we will have real benefits, and citizens will feel the benefits even before formal membership in the EU. We showed regional synergy, a high level of understanding and will. We have confirmed that we are indeed one region with a common vision," said Maričić.

Albania's Minister of Finance Ervin Mete said that real progress is visible and that the countries of the region are working on adopting regulations and getting closer to the Single European Market.

"I am happy that the Growth Plan has connected us like this and that our citizens will have real benefits," said Mete.

The MEP stated that the Deputy Minister of Finance of North Macedonia Filip Nikoloski, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Labor and Transfer of Kosovo, Avni Zogiani, the State Secretary in the Secretariat for European Affairs of North Macedonia Drita Abdiu Halili and the adviser to the Minister of Finance and Treasury also participated in the meeting. Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Janjetović.

"Representatives of the Secretariat of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, the Transport Community, the Energy Community, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Chamber Investment Forum of the Western Balkans, GIZ, the Regional School for Public Administration also took part in the meeting," he says. in the announcement.

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