Leaders from the Western Balkans and the Region Agree to Deepen Integration and Collaboration
World Economic Forum

Leaders from the Western Balkans and the Region Agree to Deepen Integration and Collaboration

November 12, 2019
  • Leaders from the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – as well as key stakeholders from in and outside the region, met in Geneva today to discuss how to deepen regional economic cooperation and advance growth and stability in the region
  • The participants agreed to continue to explore collaboration on measures including advancing leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and increasing competitiveness and innovation in the region
  • The announcement follows the conclusion of the Strategic Dialogue on the Western Balkans, which began at the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting in 2018

The World Economic Forum brought together 26 heads of state, government leaders from South East Europe , Western Balkans and important partners today to discuss the path forward for strengthening economic growth and stability in the region.

Leaders from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, as well as key stakeholders in the region, met at the Forum’s headquarters in Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland, to continue the dialogue that began at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos. The purpose of the high-level gathering was to foster partnerships that advance regional integration and economic and social progress, to provide an impartial platform to discuss the challenges and opportunities that are shaping the region’s political and economic outlook, and to deepen intraregional cooperation.

The participants agreed to continue to advance cooperation on key measures aimed at fostering inclusive growth, increasing competitiveness and preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These include:

Regional Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Western Balkans will launch a regional Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the region, open to the neighbouring countries. The Centre will work on agile governance of data policy, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, robotics and smart cities.

Competitiveness and Innovation Accelerator (Albania, December 2019/January 2020): In partnership with the Regional Cooperation Council, the Forum will establish its first regional Competitiveness and Innovation Accelerator for the Western Balkans. The accelerator will be part of a global initiative of the Forum that aims to identify and scale selected initiatives that can contribute to increase the diffusion of innovative technologies and business models and build more inclusive and sustainable systems. The accelerator will start working with a kick off meeting of the Leadership Group

The World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting (Davos-Klosters, 21-24 January 2020): The Strategic Dialogue on the Western Balkans will continue with a session with the inclusion of key business voices.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Western Balkans Investment Summit (London, 24 February 2020): The Forum will participate in this Summit to share the outcomes of the Davos discussions with the financial institutions and corporates.

EU Summit during Croatia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU (Zagreb, 6-7 May 2020): The Forum will co-host a high-level session in co-operation with the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union at this Summit as part of the Strategic Dialogue.

Western Balkans Digital Summit (Albania, April 2020): The Forum will support the Western Balkans Digital Summit, with the aim of preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Strategic Intelligence on the Western Balkans: Transformation Maps, the Forum’s Strategic Intelligence platform followed by a large community of business and government leaders, academia and the youth will feature dynamic and an in-depth analysis dedicated to the Western Balkans to map strategic trends and interdependencies

“The World Economic Forum initiated the Strategic Dialogue on the Western Balkans in January 2018 at the Annual Meeting in Davos to provide a trusted and impartial platform to the leaders from the region and relevant partners to further strengthen economic growth and stability in the region. We remain committed to this effort in the future, and we are very pleased to help support concrete initiatives such as the Affiliate Centre on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Innovation Accelerator for the Western Balkans” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

“The countries of the Western Balkans have made important strides towards overcoming their differences by building partnerships based on tackling shared challenges together. Today’s agreement to embark on a coordinated effort to improve economic competitiveness, innovation and technology governance will provide opportunities to the people that live in the region and the businesses that are increasingly looking to the region as a source of growth,” said Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.

The Strategic Dialogue on the Western Balkans will continue at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos, Switzerland.

The participants of the dialogue were:

· Josep Borrell, High Representative-designate of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Vice-President-designate of the European Commission, Brussels

· Majlinda Bregu, Secretary-General of the Regional Cooperation Council, Sarajevo

· Elmar Brok, Special Adviser to the President of the European Commission, Brussels

· Sumantra Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), London

· Thomas Greminger, Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Vienna

· Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva

· Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania

· Elisabeth Udolf-Strobl, Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs of Austria

· Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina

· Ivan Krastev, Chairman of Centre for Liberal Strategies

· Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria

· Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia

· Clement Beaune, Europe and G20 Adviser to the President of France

· Nikolaos Dendias, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece

· Susanne Schütz Director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey and the EFTA States, Federal Foreign Office

· Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary

· Ivan Scalfarotto, Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy

· Zoran Pažin, Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro

· Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of North Macedonia

· Nikola Dimitrov Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia

· Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia

· Miroslav Lajcák, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic

· Marjan Šarec, Prime Minister of Slovenia

· Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey

· Andrew Page Head of the Western Balkans Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom

· Matthew Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Department of State (Special Representative for the Western Balkans)

· Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum

· Børge Brende, President of the World EconomiWEFc Forum

· Martina Larkin Head of Regional Strategies, Europe and Eurasia; Member of the Executive Committee

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