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President Vučić visits Skopje

The President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, is on a two-day visit to Skopje, where he met with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama, within the cooperation initiative known as "Mini Schengen".

President Vučić emphasized that this initiative was a great idea, which started in 2019, and that it shows that, in accordance with European values and ideas, we are able to take care of our future on our own and to take our destiny into our own hands.

President Vučić said from Skopje that this is a very important visit and announced that three agreements will be signed tomorrow, which include faster flow of goods between Serbia, Northern Macedonia and Albania, assistance, support and joint action in cases of natural disasters, as well as creation of a single labor market, with the abolition of work permits.

"We have an idea to make personalized electronic cards through which we would offer numerous benefits to people from these countries so that, when they come to Serbia, they can have discounts – for train tickets, restaurants and cafes. This is of great interest for Serbia", said President Vučić and added that 4,144 companies in our country do business with Northern Macedonia, and 1,004 companies work with Albania. He pointed out that there are joint plans on the green agenda, industrialization, as well as attracting new investors with a single labor market.

"This is a big step into the future! An important aspect, which contributes to the further consolidation of peace, better and closer political cooperation and cooperation between our peoples, and that brings stability and many things important for the future of the region. Work will be done on mutual acceptance of academic qualifications, but also professional ones. This will bring us even closer, strengthen our economies, so that we can provide a better standard of living for our people", said President Vučić and announced that a joint portal will be created in three languages, in which cultural and historical values will be presented, as well as information on each country.

"It is important that we strive to establish the Balkans without borders, because that is how we can achieve the best results", concluded President Vučić.

On the second day of his visit to Skopje, President Vučić participated in the Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation, where he signed three documents with the prime ministers of the Republic of Northern Macedonia and the Republic of Albania: Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation to facilitate import, export and movement of goods in the Western Balkans, Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation regarding free access to the labor market in the Western Balkans and the Agreement on Cooperation in disaster protection in the Western Balkans. After the Economic Forum, within the Mini Schengen initiative, i.e. Open Balkans, President Vučić expressed satisfaction with the agreements reached today and said that Serbia would be a reliable partner for both Northern Macedonia and Albania on the path of further rapprochement and regional stability for all citizens. He pointed out that the goal of the initiative is to make life easier for citizens and improve the standard of living, and stressed that, if its implementation is successful, from 1 January 2023, there will be no borders for the citizens of the three countries.

"We do not have an easy road ahead of us. These are fantastic ideas, an extraordinary vision. We have to work hard, we have to convince our people to be hard-working, diligent, to deliver all the results on time. When we talked, we thought about how good it would be if those who were never very close, and Serbia and Albania have never been particularly close in history, decided to turn their heads from the past to the future", said President Vučić and stressed that in the last two years, sincere mutual trust has developed and that that is why it is important to show the citizens of the three countries that we are able to make decisions on our own, to take care of ourselves, to improve our lives, to be on the road to the EU, but also to work with everyone and not wait for someone to introduce us somewhere, but to change our destiny on our own. He said that countless possibilities are opening up for everyone.

"We can be the growth engine of this part of Europe, but we have to help businessmen. We work in such a way that we can leave the past behind and look to the future, to our lives, to the progress of the standard of living. People can only benefit from this, there can be no harm", stated President Vučić and added that concrete initiatives will be launched to provide benefits to citizens.

"It is our job, and I am asking businessmen to help us, to put pressure on the chambers, but also on us to work faster. Let us try to open the borders completely. This is a historical task, we will see if we are up to it, and I believe that we are", concluded President Vučić.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, said that a new era of cooperation in the region begins today, which will be an additional impetus to economic cooperation, but also to the relaxation of political relations in the region. He added that the three nations have the same path, vision and European values in front of them.

"We are moving forward on the same path, connected together. Instead of walls, today we built new bridges. For this new regional connection, we have received strong support from the business communities of our three countries, as well as the business communities of other countries in the Western Balkans and beyond. This will be a recognized initiative that will be widely accepted in both Brussels and Washington. This can make a serious contribution to the political relaxation in the region", the Macedonian Prime Minister Zaev pointed out and said that this initiative is open to all countries of the Western Balkans. He stated that more than 350 companies from the region are participating in the Forum, but also about a hundred other representatives of chambers of commerce and companies from outside the region.

"It is clear that only with an integrated and connected region can we move faster towards EU membership. Everything we do is the result of European values, because we strive to improve the four freedoms – movement of people, goods, capital and services", said the Macedonian Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama, pointed out that there will be no progress in the region if the countries do not jointly develop the economy and create prospects for more jobs, especially for young people. He said that we should not turn our backs on each other, as we have done for 500 years, while, on the other hand, EU countries have their own rhythm of movement and conditioning.

"And when the region is integrated into the EU, we will still work the same as now. Now we are establishing this without the EU, and when we become part of the European family, there will be no discussion about whether four freedoms are enabled in our region or not", said the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

29 July 2021

Source: www.predsednik.rs

Photo: Dimitrije Goll

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