Čadež: The Western Balkans is the Region of Potential and Not Problems

Europe should accept, as soon as possible, the fact that the Western Balkans (WB) is not the region of problems and trouble but of potential that no other region in Europe has, said today President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS), Marko Čadež

Photo: Tanjug, Miloš Milivojević

Speaking at the final conference of the Western Balkan 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6 CIF) in Pristina, he said that Europe should take advantage of this fact, especially considering that the European economy imports more than 90% of the raw materials it needs from China. This region does not only have raw materials and reserves, but also has mines that are operating, and there are processors who can do it,” said Čadež. He emphasised that the countries of the Western Balkans must join the European market as soon as possible and announced that the cooperation between the chambers of the region will continue in the coming period.

Photo: Tanjug, Miloš Milivojević

“Our focus in the future will be to convince the EU and other members as soon as possible that this region has to be part of the single market and operate under single conditions,” Čadež underscored. The CCIS President added that the people living in the WB region have a lot to lose, as he says, “the policy is not very useful”. According to him, it is very important for business to build an atmosphere so that politics understands that the economy is the one on which everything depends. “We are the ones who pay taxes, build hospitals, roads, schools, create jobs,” said the CCIS President. Speaking about the results of the project financed by the European Union “EU Support to WB6 CIF”, the total value of which is more than 2.8 million euros, Čadež said that during this project a total of more than 6,000 companies from the entire region underwent the same kind of training, education, and seminars. “Those companies are successful today and can freely market their products on the EU and world markets,” he added.

Photo: Tanjug, Miloš Milivojević

Director of the CCIS Division of Strategic Analyses, Services and Internationalization, Mihailo Vesović, expressed his satisfaction that this kind of cooperation in the region is building a brand that is recognized by the EU, and that this process has brought companies closer, regardless of their size.

“We are still a small market, and in order to be successful and not fall behind the EU, we need to run faster. We attended fairs, meetings, and built a base so that we could access the market more easily. But we were also building the internal market and the supply chain.  We receive these funds not to leg behind a lot, but this is not enough if our governments do not join in”, he said.

Photo: Tanjug, Miloš Milivojević

Speaking at the conference, the President of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, Lulzim Rafuna, said that he is convinced that this mechanism of economic cooperation will contribute to the preservation of peace and stability in the Balkans. “We need cooperation because, with economic development, we influence the social development of our citizens. They will have a higher social standard and a better life. We, as the Investment Forum, are constantly fighting business obstacles and eliminating them, we do not wait for our governments’ moves but exert positive pressure on them” emphasised Rafuna.

Photo: Tanjug, Miloš Milivojević

The Deputy President of the Chamber of Economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirko Bošković, said that investments, new jobs and political stability are very important in order to retain young people in all countries of the region. He also emphasises that the chambers of commerce and industry of the region have proven that successful cooperation is possible. “At the conferences organized in Ljubljana, Belgrade and Hanover, it was shown that the WB region is rich in natural potentials and that the vast majority of them are unused, which in itself opens up space for new investments,” he pointed out.

Bošković said that those conferences were attended by representatives of investment promotion agencies, ministries responsible for investment policy and promotion, regional organizations and international financial institutions, and their goal was to present the comparative advantage of the WB region in relation to other investment destinations in the light of new trends and convergence of supply chains.

“CIF is our tool and a powerful means of improving and strengthening cooperation in the region, to which all of us here today are dedicated. Thanks to this project, we have become recognizable and the trust of our companies in us as chambers is growing. We are increasingly recognized as promoters of the interests of our companies before government institutions.” Boskovic said.

Photo: Tanjug, Miloš Milivojević

The Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro, Nikola Vujović, said that this project provides a good basis for connecting the economies of the countries of the region, mutually but also with the EU. “I expect that in the coming period, we will have similar initiatives, with the support of the European Commission, just as in this case. All this means better preparation of our companies for what is our common goal, which is to be ready for the EU market,” he said.

Thomas Hagleitner from the European Commission, addressing today’s meeting in Pristina via video link, pointed out that the project “EU Support for WB6 CIF” is a vanguard and is very important for the prosperity and development of the entire region.

“This is an opportunity to strengthen business in the region, and if the business process is strengthened, the EU accession process can be accelerated”, he underscored.

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