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Informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the Western Balkans

Alfano: “This evening, I will be holding an informal meeting at Villa Madama with our colleagues of the Western Balkans, as part of our preparatory activities for the Trieste summit meeting on 12 July.

This occasion will provide the opportunity for an extensive discussion of the themes of the Summit and bilateral matters.

In relation to the regional context, despite the fact that problems and tensions still remain in the domestic political situation of certain countries of the area and in mutual relations, we have recently seen a series of very positive developments, to our great satisfaction.

I refer in particular to the agreement reached between the political forces in Albania to hold elections with the participation of all political parties, as well as the progress made in the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia to overcome the political impasse.

These are signs of hope for the Region and the European Union.

These positive developments show the benefits that a stronger, more trusting Union can have on the Western Balkans – like that seen during the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.

This is why Italy has always supported the European perspective of the Region and is a firm supporter of the need to reunite Europe with the accession of the Western Balkans in the EU.

It is a strategic choice and one of great courage and political far-sightedness, essential to guaranteeing peace and security to the continent.

Therefore, the Trieste Summit will be an important opportunity to foster a climate of reciprocal trust and confidence.

It is not only political dialogue, but also concrete action: in Trieste, a new package of infrastructural projects will be announced in the transport and energy sectors, which will help ensure the development of regional connectivity.

There is also increasing consensus as to the possibility of adopting an Action Plan for the creation of a Regional Economic Area.

As regards the specific initiatives of the Italian Presidency of the Process, we have decided to organise a Business Forum in Trieste, dedicated to small and medium enterprises (SMEs); here, we will present financial and real instruments available for their development, in the belief that if a country is to grow, the creation of a dynamic private sector is essential.

There will be approximately 80 businesses from the Western Balkans attending the Business Forum for extremely important afternoon business meetings.

Trieste will also be officially opening the offices of the Secretariat to the Chambers of Commerce of the Western Balkans, a result of high symbolic value that will enable a further tightening of economic links between our country and the Region. 

We have also chosen to introduce the dimension of the prevention and fight against corruption to the Summit through the organisation of a Seminar chaired by our National Anti-Corruption Authority.

It is an essential matter for our societies, as well as an inescapable point of all negotiations for accession into the EU; we all need to be suitably equipped to deal with it.

In this regard, the Seminar works will be focussed on 5 themes: prevention of corruption; informants; conflict of interest; transparency; and public tenders.

Finally, Trieste will also host important forums for civil society and youth, proving that the Process of the Western Balkans is open to the contribution of all Regional players and not limited to the political dimension only.

The agenda is highly ambitious, but we trust in the success of the Summit, in the shared interest of the Western Balkans and the European Union. And this evening’s informal meeting strives to be a contribution towards this success”.

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