The Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation held today in Skopje concluded with the signing of an agreement and two memorandums of cooperation between Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia.
Rama, Vucic and Zaev also decided to rename the initiative whose ultimate objective is to remove borders and simplify bureaucracies among Western Balkan neighbors, calling it Open Balkan.
Known earlier as the mini-Schengen, the initiative sparked a debate among the countries of the Western Balkans, with Kosovo, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina refusing to join it.
“Our countries are walking on the same path, we share the same vision and European values. This Open Balkan initiative is the initiative that the region needs”, said in his closing remarks, North Macedonia’s premier Zoran Zaev.
Rama said that the three countries had signed an agreement to “stand together in any case”.
“This is the spirit of this initiative and I don’t want to say more”, added Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
For the Serbian President, the agreements signed are a positive thing and will enable traveling across these countries without any obstacles.
“Together we can make things incomparably better than alone”, declared Vucic, adding that the results will be more visible in the upcoming months.
Kosovo, one of the topics left out of the agenda
Kosovo’s declaration that it refuses to join the initiative, labeling it as “the Novi Sad initiative” is one of the topics that was left out of the agenda, even when the three leaders were asked by journalists.
Albanian Prime Minister Rama toughened his rhetoric by the end of the conference, stating:
“On January 1, 2023, the waiting line at our borders will be zero seconds. Others are welcomed to come and join us. If they do, no one will stop them. Enough with the statements that they weren’t invited. All six countries discussed this in Tirana, and the difference was clear, some do want it, and some do not”.
Asked from Euronews Albania, the office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo denied having received an invitation to participate at the forum.
The Serbian president said that “whoever wants to join, is more than welcome”, a statement strengthened even more by PM Zaev.