Map of Central Balkans

© iStock.com/pop_jop

Dirk Wiese, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, is attending the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste today. The fourth Western Balkans Summit is to provide new stimuli to strengthening the regional cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, digitalisation and sustainability.

State Secretary Dirk Wiese said: "The Westen Balkans is an important economic region; it is increasingly becoming a close partner for German business. Today's Summit aims to further expand our successful cooperation and help the region to make more use of its economic potential. For this purpose, a multiannual plan to develop a Regional Economic Area is to be adopted today; this plan aims to deepen cooperation in the region while making the region more attractive for foreign investment. Agreements on additional concrete steps such as establishing a Transport Community and organising an IT summit are planned."

The participants of the Western Balkans Summits include the heads of state and government and the Ministers for foreign and economic affairs of the Western Balkans countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, and the host countries Germany, Austria, France and Italy. In the region, the series of Summits (in Berlin, Vienna, Paris and now Trieste) is also called Berlin Process. Members of civil society have also been invited to today's Summit.

The Summit, which is being complemented by a Business Forum, focuses on measures to introduce the system of dual vocational training, the organisation of an IT summit, and the fight against corruption and organised crime. The establishment of a Transport Community is to further promote intraregional trade.

At around €23.68 billion, the trade volume between the Western Balkans countries and Germany rose to a new record level in 2016. The German federal government also supports the bilateral trade in the context of the "purchasing initiative for the Western Balkans", which was launched in 2014. The initiative helps establish contacts between German companies and possible suppliers in the region.