Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that the Adriatic-Ionian Macro-strategy is vital for Serbia and other members from Western Balkans and that it represents one of the supporting formats of the Western Balkans’ approximation to the European Union and of the European integration process itself.
Together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić, Minister Joksimović has co-chaired and hosted the ministerial meeting of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), while she has also participated in the AII Council meeting.
She has emphasised the importance of and commitment to the goals of the Strategy, particularly in the post-pandemic period, bearing in mind that potential projects supported through this Strategy can significantly mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the economies and societies of all members, be they full EU member states or countries in the EU accession process.
As the National IPA Coordinator, Joksimović has particularly stressed the fact that joint planning and coordinated financing through such initiatives are necessary for a sustainable and accelerated development of the region.
What may be an additional incentive and connection is the announced Economic and Investment Package for the region, which the EC will present in autumn and which will include projects related to trans-national networks in the area of energy, transport, digitisation, Green Agenda and sustainable tourism, according to Joksimović.
She has added that this is also an opportunity to jointly identify projects through the Adriatic and Ionian Strategy, which will contribute to economic connectivity to the benefit of the region and primarily the citizens.
Joksimović has underlined that today’s meeting was also dedicated to reaching an agreement regarding the content of the ministerial declaration aimed at steering the implementation of the Strategy for the following one-year period.
The Declaration points to the importance of employing further efforts to minimise the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare systems and citizens’ health, along with restoring social and economic flows in the Adriatic-Ionian region. Furthermore, it particularly underlines the need to include the Strategy’s priorities in the process of EU funds planning for the following seven-year budget period, not only in the WB region but also in EU member states.
To top off the chairmanship, in addition to the ministerial meeting, the fifth plenary forum of the Strategy was planned to be organised in Belgrade, which was supposed to host more than 500 participants from all countries of the region.
Given that, due to the pandemic, it was impossible to organise said forum in the planned period in Belgrade, Joksimović has expressed hope that Serbia will hold the Forum by the end of the year, with the support of the European Commission and Slovenia that is taking over the chairmanship on 1 June.
Ministers of the Adriatic-Ionian countries and representatives of the European Commission have analysed concrete results of Serbia’s one-year chairmanship of this Initiative.
Given that it is located in the hinterland of the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, Serbia has in the past year dedicated special attention to regional connectivity with regard to transport and energy, and has promoted a more intensive youth cooperation and common cultural heritage that makes this region an attractive tourist destination.
To recall, the members of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative are: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and San Marino.